As we went to press the championship was heading to Thruxton in Hampshire (6-7 May) – the fastest track on the calendar for its fifth and sixth rounds alongside the British Touring Car Championship.
The first four rounds – two at Brands Hatch; two at Donington Park – had been won by four different drivers. As predicted in our March newsletter the qualifying and race lap records had been smashed at both those circuits…
Ultimately it has been the more experienced hands showing the rest of them how it’s done but not without a scare or two from some of the younger, newer names.
Former championship runner-up Lee Pattison, 2014 title-winner Mike Bushell, 2016 sensation Max Coates and three-time Champion Paul Rivett were the winners of those first four rounds.
Bushell, driving for Team Pyro – the benchmark team during the past decade – also shattered the qualifying record around Brands’s short Indy circuit where the race record fell too, to the spectacular Shayne Deegan in his small SDR Motorsport team’s car.
At Donington it was the turn of another emerging name, Dan Zelos (team-mate to Pattison and Rivett in the WDE line-up) to do the business in qualifying. Pyro’s 16-year-old ‘wonderkid’ – yes, 16! – Jack McCarthy then set a new race record only for it to beaten in race two by Daniel Rowbottom, again driving for self-run team, DRM.
Much of the reason for these greater speeds is undoubtedly a faster, more durable Michelin tyre that the UK Clio Cup has switched to for 2017.
McCarthy, straight from a stellar career in karting, was something of a revelation on his debut at Brands Hatch. Likewise Westbourne’s James Dorlin, last year’s BARC Michelin Clio Cup Series Champion who the wet overtook ten cars in one lap, and Deegan who has only contested three UK Clio Cup events before.
Deegan though was in the wars at Donington, his spinning car triggering a spectacular multiple pile-up that swiftly did the rounds on social media as well as being covered during ITV4’s live coverage of the action.
Donington brought added drama for the ITV4 viewers when, on a damp track, Rivett agonisingly slithered into team-mate Pattison and knocked them both off.
Arriving at Thruxton, Bushell led the points table from Ciceley’s Coates, Rivett and Pattison with Dorlin and McCarthy a superb fifth and sixth overall…
VIDEO & LINKS
CLICK HERE to re-live some of the drama from Brands Hatch. Our clips include:
- In-car with Shayne Deegan recovering from a huge slide
- Ditto in-car with Max Coates – this has gone viral in its own small way
- Race round-up: Bushell takes his first win at his home track
- Race round-up: Action, drama, unpredictability galore at Donington Park
As ever keep up to date and get involved with the action-packed UK Clio Cup via its website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
UK Clio Cup races coming up soon along with the BTCC include – Oulton Park, Cheshire (Sat 20/Sun 21 May) and Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire (Sat 10/Sun 11 June). More details here.