Still aged only 17, Price became one of the UK Clio Cup’s youngest race winners on record at Brands as he triumphed in Sunday’s race there, the very last round of the 2016 season.
In doing so he ensured he snuck ahead of Paul Streather for a fine sixth overall in the final drivers’ standings – in fact he was only seven points away from usurping Lee Pattison for fifth!
His win also meant that 2016 ended with seven different winners from its 18 races. Only once has a season produced more winners (eight in 2013). Other than that one has to go back nine years, to 2007, for the last time as many different faces stood on the top step of the podium…
Brands Hatch’s other winner was Paul Rivett who prevailed in the Saturday race at the Kent circuit. In it he also set the race’s fastest lap for two bonus points to secure the hallowed maximum score – only the fifth time it had been achieved in 2016 with a pair each having gone the way of title protagonists Ant Whorton-Eales and Mike Bushell earlier in the year.
Quirkily, Rivett’s and Price’s wins ensured that for the seventh year in a row the driver leading the points table after the penultimate rounds then failed to take a victory at the season’s final event (the ‘jinx’ was last broken in 2009 by Phil Glew, Champion that year)!
As has been the case for much of 2016, Bushell was again the man to beat in qualifying at Brands Hatch where he notched up two more pole positions to take his total for the season to 12. Consider that since the UK Clio Cup resumed at Snetterton in late July only once was he beaten to the pole, by Max Coates for the first of two races at Silverstone. A remarkable run…
Brands also saw Rivett’s young team-mate Charlie Ladell end his season on a high as he equalled his career best result of third – he’d first managed it at Donington Park back in April. Accident damage meanwhile cruelly prevented Ollie Pidgely from racing – a great shame after he’d qualified a best-ever fifth and then fourth on the grid for the two races…
Just as he had 12 months ago, Luke Kidsley set the final round's fastest lap (albeit ending it in rather more dramatic fashion)! The same race also saw the small PP Motorsport squad equal its best race result to date as James Colburn came home in fifth (Anton Spires had done likewise at Thruxton in May). Elsewhere Rallycrosser James Grint made his debut at Brands, establishing ‘bests’ of 19th in qualifying and 14th in a race.
Finally, Bushell’s exits from both races at Brands’s season finale meant just three drivers managed to complete every race in 2016 – Coates, Pattison and Rory Collingbourne. Streather had been on course to join them arriving at Brands but was also a retirement in the weekend’s opening race.
It is perhaps worth pointing out that prior to Brands Bushell had in fact finished every one of the previous 30 UK Clio Cup rounds he had contested – 16 in 2016 plus rounds five to 18 in 2014. Surely some sort of record?