The Championship battle is heating up. As the mist cleared on Round 13 for a dramatic action packed race, it was 20Ten Racing’s Josh Cook who grabbed the headlines leading a seven car nose-to-tail train to take the chequered flag and his first AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup win of the season.
Having lined up on the grid in fourth for this morning’s race, which was delayed due to heavy fog conditions, Rookie Championship leader Cook avoided the spins and cars running wide ahead to battle his way to the top on the opening lap. The Bath driver was able to pull out a substantial lead between him and second placed man Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch), but the KX Academy driver closed the gap and put Cook under intense pressure for the majority of the race. Cook was able to keep a cool head and keep the experienced Hodgetts behind him to take the chequered flag to the delight of the 20Ten Racing team.
‘It was an interesting race,’ said a delighted Hodgetts. ‘I was able to get a great start up into third, overtook for second into the second corner up the inside of Bonham and then Paul (Rivett) had a moment up ahead on cold tires. That put me into the lead and managed to pull a bit of a gap, but Stef was able to catch back up. He gave me a little tap at one point, but it wasn’t intentional. He drove fantastically well and was fair, hard but fair. 20Ten Racing have done a fantastic job with the car and finger’s crossed we can keep it together for race two.’
Just 0.209secs separated the race winner and Scuderia Vittoria’s Stefan Hodgetts, who had a disappointing qualifying yesterday after only putting his car eighth for today’s race. The experienced driver was also able to avoid the drama up front and slip into second place to take his fifth podium of the season.
‘It was good,’ said a thrilled Hodgetts. ‘Having started from eighth and coming up second, which is a good result. The boys did a great job after working hardlate last night as we didn’t have a fast car yesterday in qualifying, but they worked hard and we’ve got a good car for today and hopefully we’ll get another podium this afternoon. We’re already looking at that one. I start a bit higher up so I’ve got to go win that one. I found the conditions perfect. There was a bit of fog and it was cold, but we’re in England’
Rounding off the top three was Cook’s Rookie title rival Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield). The Westbourne Motorsport driver lined up seventh and almost secured secondafter a brief move on Hodgetts but Stefan fought back reclaiming the position. 18-year old Ant didn’t want to give up the place easily and continued to pressure Hodgetts but in the end Whorton-Eales had to settle for third place for his fourth podium of the season.
‘It was interesting,’ said Whorton-Eales. ‘Having started seventh, I battled up to third and then into second at one point and there were cars everywhere up front with some going sideways, it was very slippery out there this morning as it has been so cold. Let’s see what we can do this afternoon.’
Elsewhere, it was a race to forget for title rivals Jack Goff (High Wycombe) and Paul Rivett (Banstead) as both faltered and, after a coming together mid-way through the race, the pair finished in eleventh and seventh respectively. With Gofffinishing behind rival Rivett, his championship lead is now cut to just nine points. PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Rivett lines up on pole again for today’s second race, whilst Team Pyro’s Goff lines up three rows back in seventh.
As for the ELF Masters Trophy, it was yet again Handy Motorsport with Pyro’s Simon Belcher (Swindon) who took the honours for the eighth time this season.
‘I’m slowly filling up the cabinet at home,’ said an upbeat Belcher. ‘It was a good race. I wasn’t able to get the qualifying that I wanted as I’m still aiming to get in the top ten every time in the session, but it didn’t quite come together yesterday. I knew that for today I had to keep my head down and not make any mistakes and eventually, hopefully, we would move up the grid, which we did. To finish fourteenth is a reasonably good result from starting sixteenth and another Masters win. We are getting very close to that championship win and it will be nice to end my rookie year with a Masters title.’
‘Out on the track it was very, very greasy. I knew it was going to be so we made a couple of changes to the car to try and help me out a little bit, but you just had to use your head for the first couple of laps and try and keep it on the track and be there at the end of the race to take the result.’
With the sun breaking through the fog, today’s second race looks set to be a bright and sunny one. The cars will rev their engines for the second time today at16.25 for Round 14. Follow all the live action on ITV4 and ITV4HD and also online at www.itv.com
Round 13 Classification
1. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing Laps 18 19:51.023
2. Stefan HODGETTS Scuderia Vittoria +0.209
3. Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport +0.441
4. James DIXON Total Control Racing +0.751
5. Adam BONHAM Team Pyro +0.958
6. Josh FILES Team Pyro +1.183
7. Paul RIVETT PER HIRE/SVE +1.461
8. Ignas GELZINIS Juta Racing +4.772
9. Rob SMITH Total Control Racing +5.445
10. James COLBURN Westbourne Motorsport +5.784