Dorlin, starting from pole position, held the lead into the first bend but by the end of the opening lap Rowbottom was already up into second position and challenging him.
For several laps they traded the lead – and mirrors – before Dorlin’s Westbourne car slithered straight on under braking for the Wilson hairpin, tumbling down the order.
This left Rowbottom with a three-second lead but in the closing stages this was whittled down as four drivers behind – Bradley Burns, Michael Epps, Lee Pattison and the returning Ash Hand – urged on each other as the fight for the remaining podium places heated up.
DRM driver Rowbottom was able to hold on, however, for his and his team’s first victory in the Clio Cup. He becomes the fourth different winner in 2018…
Hand, 2015 championship runner-up, was able to muscle his way through to take second on the road for the Matrix Motorsport team's first podium result. Team Pyro’s Burns was third just ahead of Matrix’s Epps and WDE Motorsport’s Pattison who was followed across the line in sixth by team-mate Dan Zelos.
Later, though, Hand was given a time penalty for his part in an incident during the race which relegated him behind Zelos to sixth. It means that Epps instead is credited with giving Matrix its first top-three finish in the Clio Cup...
Rowbottom beamed: “I can retire now! Boy that was tough work – it was a great scrap with Dorlin until he went off and then it was a case of concentrating every inch of the way from there on to the end. But finally we’ve got it!”
Of the main title protagonists, WDE’s Paul Rivett was seventh ahead of the recovering Dorlin who finished eighth just clear of WDE's Sam Osborne. Pyro’s Max Coates was 11th behind Westbourne's James Colburn (both lost ground after running off the track together on the opening lap) but he still holds the championship lead by just a single point from Rivett with Dorlin in third, a further 16 adrift…
A number of drivers starred elsewhere in the treacherous conditions. Jack Young, making his debut with MRM, held third early on before retiring with a mechanical gremlin and Nick Reeve – another to run off the track on the opening lap – set the race’s fastest lap in his and the Specialized Motorsport team’s first outing.
After starting 22nd, MRM’s Brett Lidsey was 13th but could have been in the top ten had he not briefly run off the road near the end. WDE’s Nic Hamilton was right behind him in 14th having come through from 20th.