All three drivers took a turn in the lead – Coates at the start, Rowbottom in the middle section and Dorlin as the race entered its final laps…
What’s more their squabbling allowed a queue of eight more drivers to latch on to them to make it 11 cars in with a chance of the win.
In the end it was a bit by Rowbottom to reclaim the lead from Dorlin that decided the outcome. Dorlin had bravely guided his Westbourne car past Rowbottom’s Pyro machine around the outside of the high speed Noble bend with several laps to go.
Rowbottom then retaliated with a late braking effort into the chicane but this cost him momentum and allowed Coates to slip by into second. The pair would rub panels through the chicane on the final lap but neither could stop Dorlin from adding to his two wins from Donington Park three weeks ago – the trio covered by just 0.718 of a second at the line.
Dorlin, who also set the race’s fastest lap time for two bonus point, commented: “That was tough – very tough. It was important to defend the inside line into the chicane and in the end that helped me hang on for the win – although there was one occasion when I thought Max was going to make it by on the outside!”
Championship leader Coates said: “I really enjoyed that one – I think all three of us had the measure over everyone else but not enough over one another for any one of us to make a break. The pace was very good though and I’m looking ahead to race two now.”
And added Rowbottom: “That’s our third podium in as many events which is good but I felt the win was one – maybe I showed my hand a bit too early but when James got by there was no way I was settling for second just like that.”
Fourth and fifth were WDE Motorsport pair Paul Rivett and Lee Pattison – the latter having come through from tenth on the grid. Sixth was Pyro’s Jack McCarthy while a career best seventh was MRM’s Jade Edwards.
Westbourne’s James Colburn, Matrix Motorsport’s Michael Epps and Pyro’s Zak Fulk – celebrating his first win in the Graduates Cup class for younger, first year drivers – completed the top ten.
All 19 drivers finished the race. Among them was WDE’s Dan Zelos – he got away slowly from his fifth place on the grid and was classified a frustrated 17th.
Leading positions, Renault UK Clio Cup, Round 5, Thruxton:
1. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), 9 laps in 12m39.993s
2. Max Coates (Team Pyro), +0.323s
3. Daniel Rowbottom (Team Pyro), +0.718s
4. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport), +1.261s
5. Lee Pattison (WDE Motorsport), +1.846s
6. Jack McCarthy (Team Pyro), +2.714s
Fastest lap: James Dorlin, 1m23.029s (avg. 102.15mph)
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