Will Fewkes, Renault Sport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager, says demand for the UK Clio Cup which features at the British Touring Car Championship’s high-profile race events is currently exceeding that of 12 months ago.
“It’s very exciting to be able to say that,” he commented. “The ‘phone has been non-stop with calls from existing and potentially new teams and, interestingly, more drivers than we had during the closed season last winter. There are some very exciting names involved in some potentially very exciting deals at the moment…
“Sure we have delivered another tremendous season in terms of spectacle on the track and for the viewers watching the live coverage on ITV4. But from the feedback we’ve had people have also been impressed with the grid numbers going up again – on average more than 20 per race – and the levels of competitiveness right down the entry list which has again attracted some really outstanding young talent as well as the more experienced driver.
“We had four different winners in 2015 which everyone will remember – this year that’s increased to seven and three of them were winners for the first time. That’s also meant six different teams winning – that number was three in 2015. There have been more drivers overall – 11 in total – either on pole position, on the podium, leading races or setting fastest laps and quite a few more on top of that qualifying on the first few rows of the grid and adding to the unpredictability.
“We’ve definitely had quality and quantity in 2016 and it was very interesting to hear comments made to us by the media who are at the race events, one in particular when they said ‘Everyone is talking about it again – people are coming to these events to watch the BTCC and also the UK Clio Cup. That’s what it means to people again.'”
Much of the renewed enthusiasm for the UK Clio Cup, believes Fewkes, is down to the hard work put in behind the scenes by an experienced and efficient organisational team that was adjusted prior to the 2015 season. He said: “The effects of that started to become clear quite quickly in 2015 and have continued into this season but we are not resting on our laurels – we all have a clear direction in how we want the championship to go and know there’s more work to be done.”
Adding to the workload is the recently announced new UK Clio Cup Junior championship – aimed at 14 to 17-year-old drivers in cars almost identical to those used in the senior UK Clio Cup.
“Already the orders for new cars are coming in as they are for the senior championship,” added Fewkes. “It’s very positive and I don’t say that lightly. Personally I find it very interesting to see how teams are using the fact the same car can be used in both championships to be on both grids.
“It’s working for them as a business model and it’s enabling them to attract some seriously interesting young drivers – three of our past champions, Phil Glew, Ashley Sutton and Paul Rivett I know were blown away by just how good some of the youngsters were at our recent sampler day for the Junior car. It’s a very good sign…
“Keeping the momentum going is always important in any sport and if we can continue the way we are going then I believe the Renault Sport brand in the UK could be set for one of the best seasons it’s had since it started running two championships back in the late Eighties.”
“Piecing together and managing two championships is a challenge but it’s one that everybody in the Renault Sport UK team relish – we’re all real racers at heart.