More than a month since the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup was last in action, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship feeder category makes its annual visit to rural Norfolk this coming weekend, 2nd/3rd August, for rounds 11 and 12 of the season at Snetterton 300 Circuit.
With the competitors and teams refreshed and ready to resume battle after the long break since the previous event at Croft in North Yorkshire, action as hot as the unusually warm British summer will undoubtedly be on the cards as the 2014 campaign enters its most important phase.
Only eight races remain in this year’s series – the first featuring the latest fourth generation 1.6-litre turbo-charged Clio Cup – and going into the Snetterton rounds Josh Cook (Bath) continues to lead the championship standings for SV Racing with KX, holding a 15-point advantage over Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing).
Cook, who has three race victories and four other podiums to his credit, was the dominant force prior to the visit to Croft but a luckless weekend there, during which he posted his first retirement of the season after unfortunate contact, meant his points cushion was pretty much halved.
Championship mainstay Colburn, whose campaign has really started to flourish since he claimed his first 2014 victory at Thruxton before adding another at Oulton Park, also encountered misfortune at Croft during the opening race of the weekend but bounced back with a runner-up spot in round 10.
The Croft weekend was all about one driver, though – Jordan Stilp (Potterspury). Having produced a season best qualifying performance at the North Yorkshire venue during his maiden campaign last year, Stilp was relishing the return visit and utterly dominated. Starting off by claiming pole position for both races, he took two superb wins, his first in the championship, and set fastest lap in each.
Off the back of such a spectacular set of performances in the North East, the 20Ten Racing driver heads into Snetterton an impressive third in the title race having scorched up the standings from seventh position.
The fight over third place in the championship is actually incredibly tight with Stilp, VitalRacing with Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and SV Racing team-mates Alex Morgan (Reading) and Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) covered by only 15 points.
Morgan, who won the opening two rounds of the season at Brands Hatch, was in action in the Eurocup Clio series at Germany’s Nurburgring during the UK championship’s summer break and secured his maiden podium finish in the pan-European category with Italian squad Rangoni Corse.
Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes), who is seventh in the overall standings, heads the Masters Cup class with a healthy 39-point lead over WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Banstead), with 20Ten Racing team-mates Mark Howard (Westborough) and Craig Milner (Matlock) third and fourth.
Snetterton marks the arrival of a fifth contender into the Masters fight, circuit racing newcomer Paul Knapp (Farningham). The former rally driver, who makes the leap into BTCC support package action with new Clio Cup entrant JamSport, has just three races in club-level saloon cars under his belt.
In the Graduate Cup class for younger competitors, Colburn moved ahead of Cook by five points at Croft with Stilp now in third place ahead of Whorton-Eales and his team-mate Ash Hand (Nuneaton), the latter having enjoyed an outstanding weekend last time out with two superb outright podiums.
Following the usual free practice sessions on Friday, 1st August, qualifying for rounds 11 and 12 of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season will get underway at 11.20 on Saturday, 2nd August, with the first race of the weekend following at 16.40. On Sunday, 3rd August, round 12 will start at 11.10 and is expected to be shown as-live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD later during the lunch break.
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (after Rd10):
1st Josh Cook, 237pts; 2nd James Colburn, 222pts; 3rd Jordan Stilp, 207pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd10):
1st James Colburn, 258pts; 2nd Josh Cook, 253pts; 3rd Jordan Stilp, 244pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd10):
1st Lee Pattison, 300pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 263pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 200pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd10):
1st SV Racing with KX, 524pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 381pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 350pts