Just seven points cover leader Coates, second-placed Rivett and Dorlin in third with a maximum of 56 to be had from the season’s final two rounds. Rowbottom in fourth is the outsider, currently 49 off Coates.
The all-important two races take place at 16:00 on Saturday (round 17) and 13:30 on Sunday (round 18). These follow Saturday morning’s qualifying session (10:55-11:25) which itself is preceded this Friday with two free practice sessions on the GP circuit.
Ultimately at stake is all the kudos associated with winning Europe’s premier single model saloon car championship which has an enviable track record for producing future touring car greats.
Indeed nine of the British Touring Car Championship’s 16 race winners so far in 2018 have come from the Clio Cup…
Significantly this weekend’s event at Brands Hatch will see the culmination of the 2018 BTCC season, too, making it one of British motor sport’s highest profile fixtures of the year. A mammoth trackside crowd is anticipated with the action also being played out live on Sunday on national free-to-air television (ITV4) and on-line (ITV.com/btcc/races).
Adding to the intrigue surrounding the Clio Cup showdown are the differing levels of experience of the top four and their respective teams.
For three-time Champion Rivett, Brands is his and his WDE Motorsport team’s home circuit and he’d love nothing more than to clinch a fourth Clio Cup title with a landmark 50th race win in the category. Coates, who’s never won a car racing title outright, is with the outfit that has won the Clio Cup more than most, Team Pyro. Dorlin has won championships before with his team Westbourne Motorsport which itself has come close to winning the Clio Cup title in the past. Rowbottom has also won titles with his tiny DRM squad, but not at this level.
It’s a fascinating mix and adding to it is the fact that there are plenty more names – some of them local to Brands – who, with nothing to lose, could be a real thorn in the side for the title protagonists…
Pyro pair Bradley Burns and Jack McCarthy immediately spring to mind – Burns, just turned 17, became the youngest winner in history with a victory double last time out at Silverstone while, prior to that, 18-year-old McCarthy celebrated his first win at Rockingham.
Matrix Motorsport’s Michael Epps has also been getting close to the top step as has WDE’s Dan Zelos, a double podium finisher on the Brands GP circuit last year.
WDE’s Lee Pattison and Westbourne’s James Colburn – proven winners and vastly experienced both – plus exciting 16-year-old talents, MRM’s Jack Young and Nick Reeve are also sure to be right in the hunt. Ditto, if he replicates his strong Silverstone form, MRM’s Brett Lidsey; likewise, his season-opening form on the Brands Indy lay-out, WDE’s Sam Osborne.
The stellar entry list continues with MRM’s Jade Edwards, WDE pair Nic Hamilton and the returning Nathan Edwards, Westbourne’s Ben Colburn, BLG’s Luke Warr and Matrix’s other two drivers Andy Wilmot and Jeff Alden.
Alas, Matrix’s Aaron Thompson has been forced to withdraw from the event due to sudden illness. All at the Clio Cup and Renault Sport UK wish Aaron well in his recovery.
How they stand (points deficits in brackets):
1. Max Coates 277 points; 2. Paul Rivett 271 (-6); 3. James Dorlin 270 (-7); 4. Daniel Rowbottom 228 (-49).
NOTE: All points are provisional pending appeals to the MSA National Court by Paul Rivett/WDE Motorsport.