Just to be clear, Ray is a seasoned competitor who goes racing for fun but still takes it seriously.
Indeed, he won 2018’s MSVR Trackday Championship title outright with son Jordan (races are a two-driver affair) and they are on course to defend that crown in 2019.
Success with the Clio Cup has helped keep sponsors The Autogroup, Lomax and Apple Care Centre on board and for 2019 – with the exact same car – have expanded their programme to also race in the MSV Supercup (in which they have quickly established themselves as title challengers).
Ray, aged 52 and with plenty of club racing experience, says such a busy schedule is only achievable with the right type of car.
“At Oulton Park we actually did two races back to back – we had about 20 minutes to change to refuel, change tyres and remove some ballast to keep within the regulations. Then it was start up the car and back out on track,” explained Ray.
“There is no way we’d have dared to attempt something like that unless we knew the car could do it.
“But the Clio Cup is so versatile and reliable – since we bought it from new we’ve clocked up about 5,000km and the only expenditure has been the usual entry fees, tyres, fuel, oil and routine maintenance.
“Actually, I tell a lie – we recently had to replace a wheel bearing. It cost about £60 from R.Sport (Renault Sport’s official UK importer)! But that has been it.
“I honestly believe this is one of the very best cars for anyone racing in a club level ‘tin-top’ championship in the UK. Whatever class you put it in, it is going to be competitive…
“More are now starting to creep into the MSV championships and more are soon going to be on the market with the UK Clio Cup ending later this year.”
Ray used a 182 Clio Cup from 2002 some years ago before switching to another make.
But he says he is glad to now be back in a Renault and benefiting from Renault Sports legendary expertise and parts service.
He added: “The car is still effectively as it was when we took delivery of it new from R.S – the only things we’ve altered are the cambers to get a race set-up and make some modifications for the championships we do.”
These include fitting Toyo R888R tyres and, because of its paddle gearshift and turbocharged engine, adding ballast to help equalise its performance with other cars in the same class.
Ray continued: “It has run faultlessly since day one and we found R.S were more cost-effective if ever we’ve decided to invest in a few spares such as bumpers or brake pads. Their advice because of their involvement in the UK Clio Cup is priceless…
“We used to run a Clio 182 which was a very good car but you’d be sweating a lot when you climbed out of it!
“I did switch to a different manufacturer for a few years but really regretted that because the car was so unreliable and was taking up all my time fixing it.
“The Clio Cup car by contrast is so simple to maintain and pretty easy to drive – I’m in love with it.
“Best of all it means no long nights working on my race car any more. I’ve got my time with my family back in the evenings.”