In a restarted race (following an opening lap roll for Brett Lidsey) the battle for the lead came down to Rivett and Coates. The latter had led the opening lap before being passed by Rivett in a classy move into Paddock Hill Bend.
With four laps to go Coates, setting the race’s fastest lap time, made his bid to re-pass Rivett into Druids Bend. Their cars made contact and, while Rivett’s was unaffected, Coates’s had clearly taken on damage that meant his pace suddenly slowed.
Swiftly both James Colburn and Sam Osborne were onto him and, despite his resolute defence, both then got either side of him going along Cooper Straight on the penultimate lap.
Colburn went through as Osborne was delayed and suddenly, entering the final lap, there was a queue of eight cars all trying to pass the hobbled Coates for the final podium place.
In a dramatic final few corners, Rowbottom and Lee Pattison were able to squeeze by as the dejected Coates took fifth followed immediately by Michael Epps, the unfortunate Osborne, Dan Zelos, Jade Edwards, James Dorlin – these two having swapped position several times throughout the race – and Jack McCarthy who had run as high as third early on.
It was Clio Cup racing at its exciting best and, as they crossed the line in a blanket finish, positions third to tenth were covered by little more than two seconds.
Meanwhile the podium order – Rivett-Colburn-Rowbottom – meant it was three different teams in the top three positions: WDE Motorsport, Westbourne Motorsport and Team Pyro.
Sixth for Epps on his and Matrix Motorsport’s debut and ninth for MRM’s Edwards also meant all five teams were represented in the top ten…
“That reminded of Clio Cup races of old when I used to win by quite a decent margin,” commented three-time Champion Rivett who had broken almost five seconds clear of Colburn at the end.
“I was really pleased with my move on Max but I don’t feel the move he tried on me was really on – I’m just glad my car survived the contact. But what a start to the season for WDE on their home track.”
Colburn said: “That got a bit hairy at the end! It was clear Max was in trouble but I knew it was important not to make any rash moves – but at the same time I had to get a move on with it because Osborne was right in there and everyone else was closing in. I’m just relieved with the way it worked out.”
Rowbottom added: “Starting P9 I didn’t really have high hopes for that one but somehow ended up in the right place at the right time at the end to scrape a decent result out of it. Getting decent points on the board on this first weekend is important so I’m satisfied with that result.”
The Clio Cup drivers will be back on track at 13:30 tomorrow for round two of their season. The race will be shown live on ITV4.
Leading positions (provisional): 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup, Round 1, Brands Hatch:
1. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport), 17 laps in 15m05.909s
2. James Colburn (Westbourne Motorsport), +4.727s
3. Daniel Rowbottom (Team Pyro), + 5.688s
4. Lee Pattison (WDE Motorsport), +6.637s
5. Max Coates (Team Pyro), +6.855s
6. Michael Epps (Matrix Motorsport), +6.978s
7. Sam Osborne (WDE Motorsport), +7.113s
8. Dan Zelos (WDE Motorsport (WDE Motorsport), +7.419s
9. Jade Edwards (MRM), +7.674s
10. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), +7.705s
Fastest lap: Coates, 52.411s
Leaders for 1 bonus point: Coates & Rivett
CLICK HERE for full result.
CLICK HERE for overnight points table.