The Air Asia Renault UK Clio Cup burst into life with Team Pyro’s Jack Goff taking the honours in an incident packed opening round at Brands Hatch today.
‘Coming into the race I had the first race at Brands Hatch last year at the back ofmind, I had a DNF there,’ said the Clio Cup returnee. ‘I wanted to make sure I had a nice clean race today and got off the start well and took it lap by lap and it came to us. It’s nice to get the first win out of the way, especially in the first race of the year. Confidence is high now.’
As the lights turned green for Round 1, pole sitter Josh Files (Norwich) lead the 25 car grid away with an aggressive start from teammate Goff, but it was Paul Rivett who showed his experience jumping into second at Druids from third and going on to take first from Files after a large slide into Graham Hill losing him three places.
‘We had a great race until just at the end but the race before was brilliant and I got a pretty good start. I was fairly equal to Josh into the first corner, tuckedback in behind him on the way up to Druids and he got a bit sideways into Graham Hill, which allowed me to slip through into the lead and I think Jack, and I think Jack flew into second. Then after that I felt that I could hold my pace very well, just kept a nice gap to the guys back there, said the reigning champion.’
TotalControl Racing’s Nic Hamilton (Welwyn Garden City) was also a victim on the first lap, losing control of his Vodafone sponsored Clio at Clearways ending up in the gravel but rejoining at the back of the pack. He later made an impressive comeback fighting his way up the pack finishing in thirteenth place.
After a frantic first lap, Files pushed hard to make up his lost places passing Scuderia Vittoria’s 19-year old Luke Wright (Shaftesbury) to take third, then set his sights on Jack Goff’s HSL Group sponsored car, who himself was pressurising leader Rivett.
Back down the pack, it was Scuderia Vittoria’s One Call Insurance sponsored Clio driven by Scotsman Finlay Crocker (West Lothian) who led the ELF Masters Class from Silver Fox Racing’s Mark Tilbury (Kent) for 18 of the 20 lap race.
Strict regulations however, damaged Crocker’s ELF Masters winning hopes after first receiving a five second penalty and then a drive-thru penalty for exceeding the track limits. This handed the lead to Silver Fox Racing’s Mark Tilbury (Whitstable).
As the top three began to pull away from the rest of the pack, they fought a close battle as Goff closed the gap on Rivett to just three-tenths of a second, with Files close to the exhaust of Goff.
Aaron Williamson (Spalding) had a burst of speed midway through the race gaining three places and a fastest lap in just three laps to take fourth from Wright.
Rivett looked to have secured the top step on the podium as the gap to Goff increased to one second, but all was too good to be true as his track rod end broke on penultimate lap forcing him to retire and opening the door for Goff to take the chequered flag with a hotly pursuing Files in second.
‘We stayed out of trouble,’ said Goff, ‘and chipped the laps off one by one and Paul had his unfortunate problem. I had five DNFs last year and Paul didn’t have any so he’s unfortunate to have his first one on his first race. He has to take it from here now and I’m sure there will be more drama along the way.’
A disappointed Rivett, ‘The PER HIRE Stancombe Vehicle Engineering car has been absolutely great all race long, but unfortunately let us down with a lap and a half to go. The track rod end broke but it’s just one of those things with racing unfortunately.’
Finesse Motorsport Ltd.’s Williamson took an impressive third in his first full season in the championship and the Rookie Trophy.
‘We are pleased with the race today,’ said the Ginetta convert. ‘Qualifying sixth was a dream come true, we wanted to be in the top ten as a realistic chance, we make fortune out of other people’s misfortunes and it played to our advantage. We had a couple good battles and a good pass of Luke Wright, which I’m still made up about. To see how close these cars all are, it’s good to be in a championship where the cars are all equal. Over the years we have hard races, and to be part of this championship is fantastic.’
Completing the podium and taking the ELF Masters Trophy was Silver Fox Racing’s Mark Tilbury who finished fourteenth overall after starting from twenty second.
‘I’m lucky to be here. It was a last minute decision and I’m very, very happy with that, didn’t expect for that,’ said a delighted Tilbury. ‘I sat at the back at the start and thought I’d take it easy, there is always a little bit of mayhem, stay clear of it. Really not a bad start, had a little off, but not too much. I was being patient and I let Nicolas Hamilton through because I knew he was faster than me. I’m overjoyed.’
Elsewhere, Scuderia Vittoria’s James Dixon took fastest lap with 52.593s whilst
Westbourne Motorsport’s William Davison made a notable performance making up six places finishing eleventh on his Clio Cup debut.
Tomorrow’s grid, established by a drivers second fastest lap time in qualifying sees Files start on pole position with Paul Rivett alongside him, who will no doubt bekeen to make up for the disappointment in race one. On row two, race winnerJack Goff lines up alongside Team Pyro’s Adam Bonham.
Round 2 of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup takes place at 3pm Sunday 1st April.
Round 1 Top 10 Results
1. Jack GOFF Team Pyro 20 Laps 17:47.034
2. Josh FILES Team Pyro +0.490
3. Aaron WILLIAMSON Finesse Motorsport Ltd +6.045
4. Luke WRIGHT Scuderia Vittoria +7.106
5. Adam BONHAM Team Pyro +7.414
6. James DIXON Scuderia Vittoria +8.009
7. Kim ANDERSSON Team Pyro +8.906
8. Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport +9.156
9. Mike BUSHELL Mike Bushell +9.573
10. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing +10.053