11/07/2017

Ideal way in for wannabe Clio racers

While the high-profile Renault UK Clio Cup uses the latest fourth generation Clio R.S 220 Trophy model, what became of the all the third generation that preceded them? Cue the excellent club-level Michelin Clio Cup Series that offers even those with road-going versions of the cars a way into circuit competition…
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The championship comprises 14 races – two each at Silverstone, Croft, Rockingham, Donington Park, Anglesey, Brands Hatch and Silverstone again.

In it are two classes: one for the original third generation ‘200’ race car and another for the 197 road-specification car.

                                                                  

In charge is Richard Colburn whose Westbourne Motorsport squad runs front-running cars in both the Clio Cup Series and UK Clio Cup.

He explains: “The road class cars are modified 197s – a suspension kit to improve handing, exhaust kit and the roll cage. Plus the car is lighter because the interior trim is removed. A full conversion costs around £5000…

“It’s entry-level competition and drivers are of all ages from all walks of life – people who’ve raced before to those who’ve enjoyed track days but fancy a go at racing.”

By modern day motor sport standards, competing is not so costly – particularly when compared to the sums of money some motoring enthusiasts might spend on fine-tuning their track day cars.

Colburn adds: “You’re looking at probably £20,000 to take it seriously or half that if you want to just turn up and have some fun. There are a number of ways of doing it to suit all budgets.

“The really good thing about these cars is the Michelin road tyres maintain very good performance for a long time, plus the cars are very reliable – you don’t tend to spend much on parts. That’s a reputation that the cars from Renault Sport have.

“You could pick up one for as little as £9,000 ready to go. All the engines are exactly the same as in road spec.”

While the race class offers an initial way in for beginners to discover their skills, it is the race class for the 200s – used in the UK Clio Cup from 2007 to 2013 – where things start to get that bit more competitive. Here a budget for a full on title attack is close to £40,000.

Driving for Westbourne, 16-year-old James Dorlin won 2016’s title and now, like others before him, is starring in the senior UK Clio Cup – still with Westbourne.

Dorlin comments: “I did two years in the race class and it gave me invaluable experience of driving on a slick racing tyre and of how a limited slip differential works – particularly how this pulls a car around the corners.

“You also learn a lot about the importance of throttle control and trail braking – without those things I don’t think I’d have been on the pace as quickly in the Clio Cup.”

And adds Colburn: “The 200 is still a very competitive car with lap times close to the latest Generation 4 UK Clio Cup model.

“Ultimately these were built professionally by Renault Sport as out and out race cars with the sequential Sadev gearbox, full race suspension, slick tyres, a fantastic chassis… They never fail to put a huge smile on drivers’ faces.”

CLICK HERE for more about the Michelin Clio Cup Series.