Britain’s premier one-make saloon car championship, the Renault UK Clio Cup, will make a welcome return to the North East this coming weekend, 22nd/23rd June, as the second half of the 2013 season gets underway at Croft Circuit near Darlington.
Fresh from announcing a new three-year deal to remain a cornerstone of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship support package until the end of the 2016 season at least, Renault UK’s flagship category will arrive in North Yorkshire with two fantastic races in prospect.
The last time Renault Clios were in action at Croft in 2011, Paul Rivett (Banstead) departed with the championship lead and the multiple title winner – who went on to claim his third main season crown that year – heads the way once more ahead of rounds nine and 10 of the current campaign.
Carrying a 22 point advantage into Croft, the Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver took his third win of 2013 just over a week ago during round seven at Oulton Park in Cheshire before claiming his fifth podium of the season in round eight.
KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria’s Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) bagged his second victory of the year in the live televised Oulton Park encounter and appears to have well and truly put his early season misfortune firmly behind him. Although only seventh in the championship ahead of this coming weekend’s action, the always tenacious Hodgetts will be a very real threat for more success.
Second in the championship behind Rivett is the hugely impressive Alex Morgan (Reading) who has proven to be a fantastic addition to the championship, and to ‘tin top’ racing, this year. Formerly a single-seater competitor in the ranks of Formula Renault, Morgan took a four year-plus break from action prior to this season to complete his University studies and begin a career in law.
Despite having never raced front-wheel drive before resuming his involvement in motorsport this year in the Renault UK Clio Cup, Morgan has been on the podium at each circuit so far this season and will be aiming to keep that record going at the weekend. His last races at Croft were in 2007 when competing in Formula Renault UK.
Team Pyro team-mate Josh Files (Norwich) slipped to third in the standings at Oulton Park after a tougher than expected outing. With four podiums so far this year, the Graduate Cup class leader is well overdue a first outright victory – especially when considering he won on his Eurocup Clio series debut last month in one of the new fourth generation Clios, which will race in Britain in 2014.
Leading the next group of drivers in fourth place is Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) who is consistently scoring healthy points each weekend. Beginning the year with a fantastic victory in round one at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, he added another podium in round two but has since been kept off the rostrum.
Josh Cook (Bristol), who took his second podium of the year last time out at Oulton Park, is fifth in the title race and just four points ahead of JHR Developments team-mate Lee Pattison (Liversedge) who will be hoping for some local support from a partisan Yorkshire crowd.
With the Clio Cup not making the trip to Knockhill in Fife with the BTCC in August, this coming weekend’s action at Croft will also be the nearest to a ‘home’ event for Scotland’s Finlay Crocker (Bathgate) and Ronnie Klos (Market Harborough). The Scuderia Vittoria drivers are presently third and fifth in the Masters Cup, which is headed by reigning class champion Simon Belcher (Swindon).
Pre-event practice at Croft will take place this coming Friday, 21st June, with qualifying and round nine following on Saturday, 22nd June, at 10.50 and 16.15 respectively. On Sunday, 23rd June, round 10 will get underway at 15.50 and will be broadcast live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and streamed online at www.itv.com/btcc
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 Rd8):
1st Paul Rivett, 207pts; 2nd Alex Morgan, 185pts; 3rd Josh Files, 176pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd8):
1st Team Pyro, 359pts; 2nd Westbourne Motorsport, 272pts; 3rd Scuderia Vittoria, 267pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd8):
1st Josh Files, 213pts; 2nd James Colburn, 203pts; 3rd Jake Giddings, 179pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd8):
1st Simon Belcher, 204pts; 2nd Graham Field, 191pts; 3rd Finlay Crocker, 139pts