From its very first year in 2000 right through to its final season of 2019 the championship was regarded as the very best in Europe – possibly the world – when it came to single model ‘saloon car’ racing by a manufacturer.
It’s impossible to say for certain just how many drivers from the Renault UK Clio Cup’s grids during those two decades went on to stardom in motor sport’s higher levels but it is unrivalled by any another championship of its type.
Unrivalled, too, year in, year out, when it came to nail-biting, unpredictable and exciting action on the track – and controversy!
Indeed the winner of the very first race in 2000, Jim Edwards Jnr, was not in fact leading when it was stopped because of another car on its roof. He’d just been passed by arch rival Daniel Buxton but under the rules the result was taken from the order the lap before – when Edwards was leading.
A couple of years later one driver, Jason Templeman, even won a race whilst facing the wrong way – in a winter series round at Donington Park, he and future four-time Champion Paul Rivett clashed exiting the last bend and Templeman was sent spinning backwards across the line still in the lead!
Fast forward to this, the final year and there was just as much drama as pre-season favourites Max Coates and Jack Young clashed on and off the track – often in front of ITV4’s live cameras – and a new star was uncovered in Jamie Bond. Young it was though who took the title, aged just 18 becoming the youngest UK Clio Cup Champion in the process.
Three or four drivers still having a chance of the title at the finale had become something of the norm, though, such was the calibre of driver being attracted. For a real nail-biter, rewind to 2015 when Ashley Sutton (who has since gone on to greatness in the BTCC) became only the second driver to win the crown in his debut season in the championship.
From the 172 through to the 182, 197, 200 and 220 Trophy models, one thing that the Clio Cup never stopped doing was producing future greats – much of this down to teaching drivers how to handle themselves professionally both on and off the track.
Below is a list of some of those to have gone on to exceptional things after a spell in the UK Clio Cup. It is an astonishing roll call that will take some matching and is testament to Renault’s and Renault Sport Racing’s understanding of motor sport, ability to move with the times and enthusiasm for supporting and developing talent.
- Colin Turkington, winter series 2000 – British Touring Car Champion 2008, 2010, 2017, 2019
- Mat Jackson, race winner in 2000 – multiple BTCC race-winner
- Robert Huff, raced in 2002 – World Touring Car Champion, unrivalled number of wins in Macau Grand Prix touring car event
- Jonny Adam, Champion in 2005 – British GT Champion 2017, 2019 and Le Mans 24 Hours GT4 winner, 2019
- Tom Onslow-Cole, Champion in 2006 – 24 Hours Series GT Champion 2016
- Andrew Jordan, race winner in 2007 – 2013 BTCC Champion; 2019 BTCC runner-up
- Dave Newsham, Champion in 2010 – BTCC race-winner
- Jack Goff, Champion in 2012 – multiple BTCC race-winner
- Josh Files, Champion in 2013 – TCR Germany & Europe Champion
- Josh Cook, runner-up in 2014 – race-winner, title contender in BTCC 2019
- Ashley Sutton, Champion in 2015 – BTCC Champion in 2018
- James Dorlin, runner-up 2018 – McLaren GT factory driver 2019
Pics © Jakob Ebrey