Stefan Hodgetts claimed a double race victory this weekend, his second of the season, but it was Jack Goff who stole the headlines after winning the 2012 AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup Driver’s Championship.
Rewind six months ago when the season got underway here at Brands Hatch, Goff (High Wycombe) went onto win the opening race and claim runner up in race two. Since then the Team Pyro driver has had a faultless season, scoring consistently throughout and finishing everyrace, a feat only achieved by three other drivers. The ex-MG Trophy Cup driver has two race wins this season under his belt and has finished in the top ten at every race minus one.
The Team Pyro driver has had the full support of his family with him at every race who have given him that much needed boost to secure his first Clio Cup title.
The young driver certainly has the skills to compete in the big leagues and has his fingers tightly crossed that next season we will see him competing with the likes of Matt Neal and JasonPlato in the BTCC.
‘I’M CHAMPION!’ exclaimed the delighted Team Pyro driver. ‘It’s been up and down all year to be honest. We’ve led the championship from the start which is absolutely fantastic.’
‘As for the race it was absolutely treacherous out there and I always kept one eye on my mirrors to make sure where Paul (Rivett) was and the other eye on the track ahead of me. I counted down the laps and with every noise I could hear I was like ‘what’s that? I hope that’s not a car going passed me. The team did a fantastic job as usual so a huge thanks to Team Pyro.’
‘As for next year, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will be on the Touring Car grid competing with the big boys, but you never know so wait and see.’
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for Goff; the championship went down to the wire at the final race of the season here at Brands Hatch. Throughout the 16 rounds of the championship he has had to battle with some of the toughest drivers the series has ever produced, none more so than three-time champion Paul Rivett.
The two have both produced some stunning drives making an exciting season but it was Goff who pipped Rivett (Banstead) by just 19 points to take his maiden title. Rivett was unable to collect his fourth Clio Cup drivers’ title but the PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver has driven superbly throughout, securing six race wins, more than any other driver.
‘It’s been one of those seasons,’ said Rivett. ‘You take away one of our DNFs and we would have won thechampionship. If the throttle cable hadn’t of snapped yesterday we would have done it. If the track rod hadn’t have gone here at the start of the year we would have done it. If I hadn’t have clipped the tyre barrier at Oulton Park we would have done it. But Jack has done really, really well as he’s finished every race. He’s a worthy champion and well done to him.’
‘We just didn’t have the luck with us this year and that is something you need in racing. We still won more races than anyone else this year and I still feel that I’m the man to beat in Clio’s. I don’t know if I’ll be back next year, I’d like to be back racing in the Clio’s next year but at the moment I don’t know whether I’ll be here or racing at all. We will have to wait and see on that one.’
‘Also I’d just like to thank PER HIRE for making this season possible and a big thanks to Stancombe Vehicle Engineering for producing a superb car all season long.’
As for the race winner Hodgetts, it was his fourth win of the season and finishes the season seventh in the standings having only joined at Oulton Park. The KX Akademy sponsored driver wrestled with his car in the wet conditions to bring the car home first, but it wasn’t without ease as he had Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) constantly snapping at his heels.
At various points throughout the 14-lap race Bushell briefly took the lead from Hodgetts, only for Hodgetts to then snatch it back. The two traded paint on several occasions, much to thedelight of the sold out Brands Hatch crowd but it was Hodgetts who held hisnerve to claim his winner’s trophy and bottle of champagne.
‘A double win, one in the day, one in the night,’ said Hodgetts. ‘Since Oulton we’ve had four wins which I think is more than the champions had, it’s only Rivett that has had more than me. Since joining in June it has been a lot of fun, brilliant to be part of theScuderia Vittoria team who have shown that they can make a Clio go very fast.’
‘Watch this space regarding next year,’ continued Hodgetts. ‘We will certainly have a go. We will try and raise some money for it and if we did a full year we will make a few heads roll that’s for sure.’
Second placed and Rookie Trophy winner Bushell was delighted with his second visit to the podium this season. Having recently joined forces with Westbourne Motorsport, the partnership seems to have done wonders for the ex-Ford Fiesta ST Championship driver after lining up sixth for today’s race. Bushell’s second place finish moved him into fourth in the overall Rookie Cup standings.
‘It’s been a fantastic weekend,’ said a speechless Bushell. ‘I’ve finally been able to show what I’ve been meaning to do all year and that’s winning podiums. Hopefully off the back of this I can go into next year and be right up there in the championship hunt. This second place has rounded off a great weekend after a bad first half of the season.’
As for the Rookie Cup, the top honours went to 20Ten Racing’s Josh Cook. The 21-year old has stood on the podium eight times to collect the Rookie trophy this season, two podiums of which were for race victories achieved a fortnight ago at Silverstone. Cook (Bath) finished third in yesterday’s penultimate race and fourth today after being unable to pass third place Dixon.
‘I managed to secure the title yesterday, which is really, really good,’ said Cook. ‘For today’s race I lined up 12th, which wasn’t ideal, but luckily the conditions were pointing in our favour. The car was fantastic and I managed to get up to fourth but Dixon drove a fantastic race, he didn’t put a foot wrong as I pressured him at nearly every corner. I tried to pass him at every gap and opportunity I saw but I wasn’t able to do it. Overall I’m very happy with a third and fourth this weekend.’
‘My season has been up and down,’ continued Cook. ‘It’s a shame we had a couple of DNFs otherwise we would have been higher up. We’ve finished fifth in the championship, which isn’t bad for our first season, especially with the amount of DNFs we’ve had but I’m really happy winning the Rookie title. I’m looking forward to a break now so I can take a step back, do a bit of testing and hopefully come back next season.’
Rounding out the top three was Total Control Racing’s James Dixon (Maidstone). The 22-year old came into this weekend still within arm’s reach of snatching the driver’s title but conceded that it was between rivals Goff and Rivett. Dixon finishes the season third in the driver’s table in only his third season in the Clio Cup.
‘It was alright,’ said Dixon. ‘Another podium and a handful of points to finish third in the championship is something I’m really pleased about. During the race I had bent steering throughout and knew I was never going to win it, I was lucky I managed to keep hold of third. It’s a good end to the season really.’
‘I’ve finished every race, which is really good,’ continued Dixon. ‘Overall I’m very happy with this season, it would have been nice if we had a better start to the year but Jack’s done a good job so a huge well done to him, and to Paul for finishing runner up. We will have to see where we go from here.’
Completing the podium was ELF Masters Trophy Championship winner Simon Belcher (Swindon). The Handy Motorsport with Pyro driver secured his tenth Masters Trophy race win of the season finishing 46 points ahead of nearest rival Finlay Crocker (West Lothian) in his debut season with Clio’s, Belcher has only one DNF to his name and has aimed to break into the top ten all season long, on which he achieved on three occasions. His dominant form in the Masters Trophy has moved him up to 12th in the overall driver’s standings.
‘We tied up the championship yesterday, which was really nice,’ said the KÄRCHER sponsored driver. ‘Yesterday I drove a conservative race because I wanted to wrap up the championship and then go into today’s final race and just enjoy myself.’
‘It was a bit of mayhem out there today. On the first lap I fell back a bit and then I thought to myself I’m third in the Masters; I can’t end the season having won the championship and finish the race in third. So I got my head down, Finlay went off and I managed to pip Ronnie Klos (Market Harborough) during the race to take the Masters win. To end the season on the podium ten out of sixteen rounds is something I’ve got to be happy about.’
‘We now need to focus over the winter on building our pace up so we can not only pick up Masters podiums but overall podiums as that is our aim for next year.’
The final race of the season saw three retirements, but it was pole sitter Josh Files (Norwich) who grabbed the attention of many. The Team Pryo driver locked up at Clearways sending him into the tyre barrier and his Marie Curie sponsored Clio over onto its side. Thankfully Josh was able to escape from the stricken vehicle unharmed.
Another driver to catch the soaking wet crowd’s attention was Finesse Motorsport’s Jake Giddings. Having encountered a problem at the start, the ex-Ginetta Junior Championship driver approached this final race with a do-or-die attitude and stormed his way through the field. He ducked and dived in his black and yellow Clio to cross the line tenth collecting a handful of points.
As for the Entrant’s title, that went to Team Pyro. The team fielded four drivers this season, Adam Bonham (Kibworth), Josh Files, Kim Andersson (Sweden), replaced by David Dickenson, and championship winner Jack Goff. The team, lead by Mark Hunt, have scoredconsistently throughout the season having fended off the Scuderia Vittoria team to claim the top position.
The curtains have now come to a close on the 2012 AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup. The season has yet again delivered exciting bumper-to-bumper racing that draws huge crowds. This spectacular season may be at end but the Clio Cup returns to Brands Hatch on 30/31st March 2013.
Round 16 Classification
1. Stefan HODGETTS Scuderia Vittoria Laps 14 28:04.361
2. Mike BUSHELL MBR/Westbourne Motorsport +0.357
3. James DIXON Total ControlRacing +5.589
4. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing +6.065
5. Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport +11.185
6. Jack GOFF Team Pyro +13.963
7. Adam BONHAM Team Pyro +14.433
8. Paul RIVETT PER HIRE/SVE +16.614
9. James COLBURN Westbourne Motorsport +17.238
10. Jake GIDDINGS Finesse Motorsport Ltd +17.717
11. Vic COVEY Scuderia Vittoria +19.707
12. Simon BELCHER Handy Motorsport with Pyro +20.590
13. Ronnie KLOS Scuderia Vittoria +24.057
14. David DICKENSON Team Pyro +24.199
15. Ignas GELZINIS Juta Racing +38.760
16. Nic HAMILTON Total Control Racing +38.994
17. Rob SMITH Total Control Racing +39.142
18. Finlay CROCKER Scuderia Vittoria +40.093
19. Tautvydas BARSTYS Juta Racing +40.646
20. Mark TILBURY Silver Fox Racing +1:14.737
21. Graham FIELD 20Ten Racing +1:16.183