The big question arriving the North Yorkshire circuit was could a new track surface lead to someone finally breaking Jonny Adam’s race lap record that had stood since 2004?
The answer was an emphatic 'yes'. But not before two other records – one that had survived even longer than Adam’s race record – had been broken.
A year after setting a new qualifying lap record, home hero Max Coates took advantage of the new grip levels to shatter his 2018 time by a full second.
In fact the top seven in qualifying were all able to better his 1m31.195s pole position lap from 2018. But, after a fierce exchanging of times with arch rival Jack Young, it was Team HARD's Coates who set a time – 1m30.107s – that will now stand forever…
It was the same two drivers who, in a league of their own, then figured at the front in Croft’s opening race of the weekend and who ultimately contributed to the first of two big records being broken.
Initially there was little to separate them on track but then Young aquaplaned off the track and into a spin. He still finished second but his off had left him 21.864s adrift of Coates at the flag – this becoming the biggest winning margin in Clio Cup history (the previous record had been Daniel Buxton’s victory over Marc Nordon by 11.277s at Snetterton in 2001)!
Sunday's race was to be the Clio Cup’s last appearance at Croft and it was in this that Adam’s race record finally succumbed. His remarkable time of 1m31.501s in his ‘Gen 2’ Clio 182 from 15 years ago went as early as lap two as Coates circulated in 1m30.555s.
This was then bettered another four times but the record was not to be Coates’ – instead it fell the way of MRM's Young who in the closing stages set a 1m30.218s (Coates managed 1m30.219s!) before lowering that even further to 1m30.200s on the very last lap.
Young had crossed the line in first position but a time penalty for a false start then relegated him to fourth in the final classification. That result means no one driver has now finished every race on the podium.
Rewind to Saturday's race and two other names stood out with personal best results, chiefly Jamie Bond who took his first top-three finish. The Team HARD driver had been fourth starting the final lap but a nicely-judged move on MRM's returning Nathan Edwards exiting Tower Bend ensured he took the final podium position behind Coates and Young.
Edwards could still be content with fourth – the same position in which he had qualified and both marked personal bests for him (impressive given he had not raced since 2018’s final rounds).
Meanwhile Bond, still in only his second Clio Cup event, then added a second podium result in Sunday’s race with another third when Young’s penalty was taken into consideration. Fourth position on the grid for that one had also marked his best qualifying performance to date.