30/09/2018

Dorlin provisional Champion with win no.6 in dramatic season finale

James Dorlin has become the provisional Renault UK Clio Cup Champion in style with victory in a nail-biting final round of the 2018 season at Brands Hatch today. It’s also his team Westbourne Motorsport’s first Clio Cup title.
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Dorlin led all the way from the start, handling two Safety Car periods and also pressure from an assortment of drivers to eventually cross the line over four seconds clear.

The win was Dorlin’s sixth of the season and with chief rivals Paul Rivett and Max Coates finishing behind Daniel Rowbottom in third and fourth (their positions revised after a judicial investigation) it was enough for him to clinch the crown.

Dorlin’s title, though, is provisional, pending an appeal to the MSA National Court by Rivett and his WDE Motorsport team…

Meanwhile an elated Dorlin said: “This is the biggest achievement of my career so far, without a doubt.

“To win at this level in front of the British Touring Car teams, crowds and ITV cameras and because of the very high level of competition that the Clio Cup attracts means it carries massive credibility.

“I had all sorts thrown at me during the race but I knew so long as I kept the lead and it wasn't Max in second then it was coming my way. Any pressure actually helped me stay focused and winning was the only thing on my mind.

“It’s great to get the title with a sixth win and I have to say a massive ‘thank you’ to my team Westbourne Motorsport who I’ve come through the system with and sponsors Vantage Motor Group and GardX. And of course my family who’ve been with me all the way since I first started racing.”

The race – broadcast live to the nation on free-to-air TV (ITV4) – had action galore and was a fitting finale to one of the most exciting Clio Cup seasons on record.

Team Pyro’s Bradley Burns and DRM’s Rowbottom challenged Dorlin for the lead initially. But Burns (already confirmed as Graduates Cup Champion) soon retired in the pit lane following a second grassy moment – this delaying Rowbottom and allowing Coates, also with Pyro, and Matrix Motorsport’s Michael Epps past into second and third.

Epps then passed Coates exiting Westfield Bend and was soon pressing Dorlin for the lead before the Safety Car was called into action after WDE’s Nic Hamilton crashed exiting Sheene Curve.

Epps would keep up the pressure on Dorlin after the re-start as Coates was kept busy holding off Rowbottom, Rivett and his WDE team-mates Dan Zelos and Sam Osborne.

A second Safety Car period was then required when Jack McCarthy’s Pyro car became stranded at Stirling’s Bend and the race – and title outcome – would finally come down to the final three laps of the season.

Ultimately Dorlin was able to break clear as the battle for second position became even more frenetic with Rowbottom and Coates finding a way past Epps who then fell further back after a dramatic tangle with Zelos at Surtees Bend. Rivett looked like he might grab second as Rowbottom and Coates tangled at Druids Bend only to somehow recover and re-emerge ahead of him.

This all left Dorlin clear for a comfortable victory – his first since Oulton Park in June – while Rowbottom, who set the fastest lap for two bonus points, just held off Coates for second as Rivett, Osborne and Epps followed in fourth, fifth and sixth.

Later, however, Rivett was promoted to third ahead of Coates after an investigation into an incident between the pair. Similarly Westbourne’s James Colburn and Zelos would be elevated a place each to sixth and seventh as a time penalty demoted Epps back to eighth.

Elsewhere Ben Colburn added to Westbourne's delight by taking his first maximum score in the Graduates Cup (this after having achieved a maiden top ten result in Saturday's race). But there was disappointment for Jack Young who, having started from his first pole position, was almost an immediate retirement when his MRM car cruelly developed a problem away from the line...

CLICK HERE for race result.

CLICK HERE for final points standings (provisional).