Stefan Hodgetts wins round eight of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup at a mild and sunny Oulton Park, rounding off a perfect weekend for him and the Scuderia Vittoria team.
Having secured double pole position and yesterday’s round seven victory, Hodgetts (Redditch) held off an aggressive field to lead from lights to flag to take home a healthy collection of points. Backed by One Call Insurance and Scuderia Vittoria, the 29-year old was clearly over the moon with his return to the series.
‘It was another tough race. Whenever you have Paul or the Pyro guys behind you it’s going to be tough. To be honest the work was done yesterday having been very lucky in qualifying sticking it on the front made life a lot easier round here because it’s a very difficult track to overtake in the Clio’s.’
Hodgetts continues, ‘It’s been a fantastic weekend for the Scuderia Vittoria team. To come straight in and get those points has lifted their spirits and it’s mega. Hopefully we can keep going and keep plugging away to get the results.’
In usual Renault Clio Cup fashion, the safety car made a couple of appearances, the first being on the opening lap for a beached Nic Hamilton (Tewin) down at Cascades, who ran wide whilst battling with Finesse Motorsport Ltd’s Jake Giddings (Wisbech). Having been rescued by the stewards, Hamilton was able to briefly continue,before retiring two laps later.
After two laps behind the safety car, the race was again given the green flag. Paul Rivett pounced straight onto the back of Team Pyro’s Josh Files (Norwich) in a bid to take the second spot on the podium, but before he could threaten forposition, the safety car made its second appearance, this time for a retired William Davison (Salisbury).
Afterseveral laps under safety car conditions, the race got underway again and this time it was who Files pounced onto the back of leader Hodgetts into turn one but was unable to find a way past. Files continued the pressure throughout the race pushing Hodgetts hard whilst defending a threatening Rivett, eventually having to settle for second place.
‘It was good,’ said Files. ‘I got an all right start, not the best in the world but never the less good enough. I took a few posts out on the first corner taking off my wing mirror. Paul [Rivett] chased me down hard, it was quite tough. Stefan [Hodgetts] and Paul were as fast as me but we always had that gap between us so nothing ever really happened. I managed to reel Stefan in a few times and give him a few taps here and there to remind him that I was stillthere.’
Having clipped the barrier and forcing him into retirement yesterday, Rivett (Banstead) looked to make up for lost ground and went out today with only one thing on his mind, a step on the podium. He got the jump on championship leader Jack Goff (High Wycombe) off the line into turn one where he would then hold off the 21-year old to finish in a strong third place.
‘We started in the order we finished at the end of the day,’ said Rivett. ‘It’s a tough circuit to overtake, especially in the Clio’s but it’s a great circuit to drive. The PER HIRE Stancombe Vehicle Engineering car has been great all weekend as per usual, apart from my mistake yesterday. It would have been nice to put the new paint colours on our car on the top step of the podium, but it wasn’t to be this weekend. Stefan has driven a couple of great races and has done really, really well.
‘I was hoping for fastest lap in that one, ‘ continued Rivett. ‘I knew I wasn’t going to get past [Files] in a hurry so I held back a little bit to see if I could fastest lap and I think I had it, but Adam Bonham took it on the last lap. It’s a shame we didn’t get those last two points.’
As for the Rookie Trophy, it looked set to be MBR’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) who would take to the podium, but a mistake on lap twelve saw him surrender hisRookie lead to yesterday’s third placed man, Josh Cook (Bath). Having won yesterday’s Rookie Trophy, Cook battled hard with Total Control Racing’s new driver James Dixon (Maidstone) to hold on to fifth place in a heated race between the two that lasted the whole of the 15 lap race.
‘It was quite a difficult race,’ said an exhausted Cook. ‘It was hard to get a nice rhythm with the two safety cars, but it was the same for everybody. Mike Bushell locked up going into the hairpin. It was an okay race and it was really difficult holding off Dixon. On the last lap I made one little mistake locking a wheel which made me run a little deep so he closed on the back of me, butoverall it was a good race.’
Elsewhere, lap ten saw three retirements. Contact between Ignas Gelzinis (Lithuania) and rounds five and six winner James Colburn (Worthing) ended both their hopes of finishing the race. Scotsman Finlay Crocker, who started the race from the pits, ran wide at Island Bend forcing him into a second retirement of the weekend.
As for the ELF Masters Trophy, it was the KÄRCHER sponsored driver Simon Belcher (Swindon) who took home the honours for a fourth time this season having finished in eighth place. He battled with Scuderia Vittoria’s Vic Covey (East Lothian) for position with just 0.129seconds separating the two at the chequered flag.
‘It was fantastic,’ exclaimed Belcher. ‘It was my best qualifying of the season with the tenth place; I was really chuffed with that. I was disappointed yesterday having been taken out on the first corner so I really wanted to make today pay and to come away with eighth place was absolutely fantastic. Another Masters win and more importantly I’m here to progress up the grid so to have a best qualifying and race finish is brilliant. I love Oulton Park, it’s a great track, I can’t wait to come back here again next year.’
The championship now takes another break, resuming at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit on August 11-12, where the tight title battle is set to continue.
Round 8 Classification
1. Stefan HODGETTS Scuderia Vittoria Laps 15 25:32.018
2. Josh FILES Team Pyro +0.479
3. Paul RIVETT PER HIRE/SVE +1.085
4. Jack GOFF Team Pyro +1.683
5. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing +4.984
6. James DIXON Total Control Racing +5.335
7. Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport +10.217
8. Simon BELCHER Handy Motorsport with Pyro +11.111
9. Vic COVEY Scuderia Vittoria +11.240
10. Aaron WILLIAMSON Finesse Motorsport Ltd +12.088