Firstly meet Chris Hartley and Andy McEwan who trackside fans will hear at the majority of the UK Clio Cup’s round – they are the main circuit commentators and both boast encyclopaedic knowledge.
Then meet Richard John Neill and Phil Glew (himself a former UK Clio Cup Champion) who are equally full of facts about the French cars. It is their voices that will keep those watching the action live on ITV4 fully informed.
The message from all four could not be clearer – this year’s UK Clio Cup looks set for a crackerjack season. They hype, they insist, is very real…
Hartley, in the box at this weekend’s Brands Hatch opener, enthuses: “2017 is going to be utterly fascinating, with at least six drivers having serious title credentials.
“I'm told that teams expect to get a minimum of four flying laps out of the new Michelin rubber in qualifying, which will give us some really engaging battles for pole.
“Consistency is key – not just because all rounds now count, but because the strength in depth means that nobody will be able to dominate, in terms of race wins.”
And adds McEwan: “It seems we've barely had time to catch our breath after the thrilling championship showdown at the end of last year. This season though has the potential to top everything we saw in 2016.
“Picking a champion from a grid so loaded with talent is virtually impossible, but super close racing and a title fight that goes right down to the wire are guaranteed.
“With no dropped scores this year, consistency will be key, perhaps playing into the hands of the more experienced members of the grid. But with another influx of new talent into the championship, one thing is for sure – the Renault Clio Cup is THE place to be for the touring car stars of tomorrow.”
John Neill, whose commentary of the UK Clio Cup now spans more than a decade, is just as upbeat. “Who will win? I don't know. Without a doubt though we’re in for another great year of racing and it’s going to look great live on ITV4 and the Motorsport UK highlights shows.
“Talking to the drivers at the recent Media Day it seems the new Michelin tyres are going to deliver a faster, more responsive race car which they all think will be a good thing. Some have warned that there might be some fun off the start and in the very early stages of the races as the rubber takes a little longer to heat up. Mind you, when were Clio starts anything other than exciting?
“The removal of dropped scores is superb too – every race, every lap, every second of the 2017 Renault UK Clio Cup is going to count!”
Nor is Glew stuck for answer about what potentially lies ahead in terms of action, although picking a winner from such a top quality grid is more difficult.
“With past champions like Mike Bushell and Paul Rivett back again, I predict a fierce championship battle. The ever improving Max Coates who had an impressive debut year in 2016 will for sure be a contender.
“I believe Daniel Rowbottom will shine at times. British karting champion Jack McCarthy has been showing some impressive pace in testing so I can see him upsetting the regulars at times. BARC Clio Cup Series Clio champ James Dorlin has an impressive attitude to the sport so look out for him picking up good points on a regular basis.
“But let's not forget the last minute entry of our exciting ‘media controversial’ character Ash Hand who will 100 per cent be the one to watch! Above all it’s too tough to call and I easily predict more teams and drivers sharing in the race wins. I know RJN and I can’t wait to get commentating on this one – it’s going to be fantastic.”