Renault UK Clio Cup regular Josh Files made a remarkable debut in the 2013 Eurocup Clio series at the world-famous Imola Circuit in Italy over the weekend, 11th/12th May, by winning his maiden race in the category and adding second place in round two to take an early lead in the championship.
Featuring the brand new fourth generation turbo-powered Clio Cup racecar which will arrive in the UK category in 2014, the pan-European series boasts some of the continent’s finest one-make racing drivers. Files, though, proved more than a match in his Team Pyro engineered car to underline the strength and quality of the domestic series.
Marking his first ever visit to the former Italian Grand Prix venue the 22-year-old, from Poringland near Norwich, was blindingly quick from the off and concluded the opening practice session nearly a full second quicker than his closest challenger.
Going on to qualify fifth fastest for the damp season-opening race, Files first had to negotiate the stalled car of reigning Eurocup Clio champion Oscar Nogues before embarking on a sensible first few laps in the “horrendously bad” conditions while his slick-shod Clio came to him.
As soon as he was confident to push harder, the British youngster sliced past the cars ahead and quickly moved into the podium positions before eventually taking the lead on lap nine. Able to pull away at the front without any trouble at all, Files went on to win his first ever Eurocup Clio race, and maiden encounter in a 1.6-litre turbo-engined fourth generation Clio, by three seconds.
Notably, he had to forego the pre-season Eurocup Clio test at Motorland Aragon in Spain as it clashed with his racing commitments in the Renault UK Clio Cup at Donington Park in April. Despite the lack of track time compared to his rivals in the new car, Files has now written his name into the record books in Eurocup Clio as the first ever winner in the latest version of Renault’s pocket-rocket.
“The weekend was a huge challenge”, reflected Files, “Race one was really good, [Oscar] Nogues stalled at the start so I had to take evasive action and it was horrendously wet for running on slicks. The other cars had more grip early on, they had an edge on us for the first few laps, but when my car came to me we seemed to be able to just drive past them all without too much trouble.”
In race two, which took place in starkly contrasting weather to the first with track temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, Files hounded the vastly experienced Massimiliano Pedalà throughout but wasn’t given an opportunity to try and make a clean pass. Defending faultlessly until two corners from the finish, Pedalà did make a slight mistake on the brakes but it wasn’t enough to open the door.
“Pedalà defended so well, everything I threw at him he fended off”, commented the Briton, “I finally forced him into a mistake at the second to last corner – he locked-up and went wide, so I went for the undercut into the last corner, but I just timed it wrong.
“It could have been two wins but a win and a second place, and the championship lead, is amazing from our first weekend. It was also my mechanic Richard’s birthday on Sunday and Dickie, the mechanic for my team-mate David [Dickenson], had his birthday on Monday. The win was a nice present for both of them!”
New Clio is “mega” says Eurocup points leader
Files’ first experience of the fourth generation Clio came in late April when Barwell-based Team Pyro gave the car its British track debut at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk. Shattering the previous lap record by almost two seconds, with a time of 2m07.001 seconds (84.15mph), Files said the Clio had become “a proper touring car.”
In the few short weeks since then, multiple Renault UK Clio Cup title winning squad Pyro – led by Mark Hunt – has made huge progress with the car and Files is convinced a return visit to Snetterton would deliver an even more sensational lap time.
“The new Clio really is a mega car”, he said, “We’ve made big inroads with it since our first test at Snetterton, the Team Pyro boys have done a fantastic job. I think if we went back to Snetterton tomorrow we’d be able to take another second at least off the lap time we did in April.
“We haven’t made any big changes, just small ones which have made a massive difference. The great thing in the races at Imola was the car was every bit as quick at the end as it was at the start. I can’t wait for Spa now in a few weeks, we’ll go there with the same mind-set as we did for last weekend – aim to be in the top 10 and if we get more than that we’ll be very happy.”
Eurocup Clio returns to action at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium three weeks from now, over the weekend 1st/2nd June. One week later, Files will be back behind the wheel of his third generation Clio Cup car for rounds seven and eight of the Renault UK Clio Cup season at Oulton Park on 8th/9th June.
Drivers and teams who wish to register their interest for the new Clio in advance of the 2014 season in the UK are invited to visit www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/cliocup2014/orderingacar
Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.