James Colburn took the top step of the podium for the first time this season in the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup at a damp and windy Thruxton circuit.
Bolting off the line as the lights went out, Colburn (Worthing) flashed past Team Pyro’s pole sitter Adam Bonham (Kibworth) and second place man Josh Files (Norwich) to take the lead into turn one. While the front two broke away from the pack, a heated battle for the top spot continued right up until the chequered flag.
‘It was awesome,’ gleamed Westbourne Motorsport’s Colburn. ‘I got a great launch off the line in between the two in front of me and we managed to keep it from there fortunately. Josh was putting me under massive pressure and I built a gap first of all which allowed me to get some more heat into the tyres as we went out with cold slicks on the rear and brand new ones on the front. It was a bit hairy out there for the first few laps, but we managed to cope with it. Josh then caught me back up and was right on my rear bumper for the whole of the race, I would pull away a little but then he would catch me up. It was a great race and a great victory for the team.’
Colburn continued, ‘I’m on pole tomorrow, so hopefully we can stay in the lead. If it’s wet we should be comfortable as we are fast in the wet and take it from there.
On several occasions it looked as though Files would take the lead from 19-year old Colburn, right down into the final chicane but unfortunately was unable to make a move settling for second place.
‘It was good fun,’ exclaimed Files. ‘It was a bit slippy at the start but overall good fun. James was really quick, getting a mega start at the beginning; I’ve never seen a start like it to be honest. He then drove away during the first few laps thought, how am I going to catch him? Soon I realised I had more pace than him and reeled him in but just couldn’t get past him. He made the car as wide as possible and that was enough for me not to get past even with a few love taps.’
It was not the best of days for pole sitter Adam Bonham, who looking for his first win was swamped by Colburn and Files off the line dropping him down to third, for where he would spend the majority of the race out on his own. Lacking race pace, teammate Jack Goff (Stokenchurch) began to close the gap but not enough to threaten for position.
A disappointed Bonham, ‘Not the best of races. I was really happy with qualifying pole, but I got an awful start and dropped back to third. We then didn’t seem to have the pace. The front two pulled away from us, fourth place Gelzinis wasn’t very quick either, he held them up and dropped back. But when Jack came through, he was a lot quicker than me I just hung on until the end.’
In drying conditions, the majority of grid were out on slicks continuing to set fastest laps, with Files setting the fastest early on, with a 1.24.220s, coming within six-tenths of the lap record set by Martin Byford back in 2007.
Juta Racing’s Ignas Gelzinis (Lithuania) held position at the start leading a heated battle for fourth with Goff and James Dixon (Maidstone) chasing hard for several laps. Unfortunately a mechanical problem caused the young Lithuanian to almost come to a halt on the start finish line on lap ten, rejoining down in twelfth position.
Another heated three-way battle developed between 20Ten Racing’s Josh Cook (Bath) and Westbourne Motorsport’s Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), but it was MBR’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) who got the best of them on the final corner to take home Rookie glory in eighth position.
‘Best result so far,’ said a delighted Bushell. ‘I managed to finish the first race and hopefully I can finish the second. I think I was only a tenth of a second behind Luke Wright. I had a good race with Josh Cook and I think he’s a little disappointed that I managed to pip him to the line.’
Having qualified in a strong seventh place, Total Control Racing’s Nic Hamilton had an unfortunate spin on lap one, dropping him down to sixteenth but fought back to make up two places by the chequered flag.
For the third time this season, KÄRCHER sponsored Simon Belcher (Swindon) took home the ELF Masters Trophy. After an early spin, leaving him in twenty-third, he charged back up the field finally finishing in seventeenth overall.
‘It was a flying start,‘ said Belcher. ‘I think I made it up to ninth at the beginning and then made a rookie error spinning at the chicane. I saw 23rd on the pit board and I wasn’t going to settle for that and knew some overtaking needed to be done. I got my head down and managed to finish 17th in the end. I’m quite happy with the drive.’
Tomorrow’s grid sees race winner Colburn line up on pole with third place Adam Bonham in second, who will no doubt be keen to make up for the disappointment in race one. Tune in live on ITV4 for all the action from Round 6 of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup taking to the Hampshire circuit Sunday at 13.00 April 29.
Round 5 Classification
James COLBURN Westbourne Motorsport Laps 12 17:05.223
Josh FILES Team Pyro +0.178
Adam BONHAM Team Pyro +5.689
Jack GOFF Team Pyro +6.081
Paul RIVETT PER HIRE/SVE +9.455
James DIXON Scuderia Vittoria +10.097
Luke WRIGHT Scuderia Vittoria +16.995
Mike BUSHELL MBR +17.079
Josh COOK 20Ten Racing +17.169
Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport +22.184