Renault UK Clio Cup stalwart Paul Rivett (Banstead) took his first win of the season with a terrific lights-to-flag performance during round three at Donington Park this afternoon, Saturday, 20th April, to open up a four point lead at the top of the championship.
Making the most of his first pole position start of 2013, the PERHIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver led the field into Redgate and, as the others behind battled, he was able to open up a massive 1.4 second lead on the opening lap alone.
Controlling from the front for the majority of the 14-lapper, the three-time champion did come under increasing pressure during the closing stages but just managed to fend off the charging Josh Files (Norwich) by half a second at the chequered flag.
Into the final tour, the Team Pyro driver was glued to the rear bumper of Rivett’s Clio following a rare error for the leader at the chicane. Files wasn’t able to make it count in his favour though when momentary oversteer allowed Rivett to edge back away. For his efforts, Files did bag the two bonus points for fastest lap and also took a clear win in the Graduate Cup class.
“I thought I had it all under control until I made a little mistake, one mistake in the race and it happened to be at the very end of the penultimate lap coming out of the chicane”, explained Rivett, “That was enough to get Josh [Files] really close but then he made a mistake at Redgate so that gave me the gap back.
“We were comfortable with the race, I knew Josh was gaining but I was happy and just counting the laps down. I knew I didn’t need to push any harder but then he suddenly started to really catch me so then I did have to push a little, in doing so I made that mistake. I’m really happy, my goal was to come out of this weekend leading the championship so hopefully we can hold on to it tomorrow.”
Files didn’t have the best of starts from second on the grid, slipping to fifth through Redgate, but he managed to get a good run through Hollywood and down the Craner Curves to move back into the top two. Punching in a series of fastest laps, Files motored away from the chasing pack and zeroed in on Rivett. Unfortunately for the Pyro driver though, a last lap bid for the lead just eluded him.
“I got the world’s worst start, I was fifth going into the first corner but went through the middle of a couple and Alex [Morgan] was kind enough to give me some room down at the Old Hairpin”, said Files, “I pulled up to [Paul] Rivett and was on him into Redgate on the last lap but just got a bit of oversteer through the middle of the corner, that lost me my momentum and gave him the win.”
Rounding out the podium was Westbourne Motorsport’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), taking his second top three finish of the year. Alex Morgan initially held third, having run as high as second for the first few corners, but Bushell managed to dive past the Pyro driver into Redgate on lap three.
Keeping Morgan and the ultra-impressive Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) at bay, Bushell edged away over the final five laps to take a clear third place. Morgan, meanwhile, had his hands full with fellow Clio rookie Stilp in the fight for fourth and the Westbourne racer was just 0.4 seconds shy at the flag.
Third placed Bushell said: “Starting from fourth, we knew we didn’t have the ultimate pace and [Alex] Morgan just left me one car width into Redgate so I made the best of it. He stayed with me for a good time, I just focused on being consistent and putting in the same lap time and that edged me away. The front two were just that little bit too quick, we’re a couple of tenths off them really.”
Another of the championship newcomers, James Nutbrown, converted his season’s best qualifying performance into a top six result with a fine drive. Having run behind erstwhile points leader James Colburn (Worthing) for almost the entire race, the Spain-based Briton managed to grab the coveted spot on the final lap.
KX Racing’s Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch), facing a tough task from 14th on the grid following issues with his in-car fire extinguisher during qualifying, made a sensational start to climb into eighth place but that was the limit of his progress. He had an entertaining battle with championship returnee Lee Pattison (Liversedge) though, the JHR Developments driver easily winning the Masters Cup in ninth.
Round four of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup, which will be beamed live across the UK on ITV4, in High Definition on ITV4 HD and streamed online at the www.itv.com/btcc website, will take place at 13.35 tomorrow, Sunday, 21st April.
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.
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd3):
1st Paul Rivett, 80pts; 2nd Alex Morgan, 76pts; 3rd James Colburn, 73pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd3):
1st Westbourne Motorsport, 139pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 137pts; 3rd Scuderia Vittoria, 86pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd3):
1st James Colburn, 86pts; 2nd Josh Files, 74pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 68pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd3):
1st Graham Field, 78pts; 2nd Finlay Crocker, 64pts; 3rd Simon Belcher, 56pts