Charlie Ladell reckons he will only get stronger as the 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup progresses having, he says, seen a marked improvement in his performance in the season’s opening half while also admitting there are still some ‘rough edges’ to neaten up…
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As announced last week Ladell will move back to the WDE Motorsport squad having contested the season’s first five events with the Team Cooksport squad.

One of the Clio Cup’s more spectacular drivers, the Ipswich youngster has finished every race inside the top ten – only three times has he been outside the top six as four fifth place results and three sixths testify. He’s seventh in the standings, though, but is determined to improve on that come season’s end.

He said: “I want to be on the podium outright from the moment when the season starts again at Knockhill (in mid-August). Moving to WDE… there’ll be a new set up on the car. It’ll feel like a new car. I’m looking forward to going there.”

A blow-by-blow account of each round so far reveals some interesting details which are never at first apparent.

He recalled: “Brands Hatch… I had good pace on the Friday but then had a steering problem in qualifying. Still I came through from 15th to fifth by the end which I was really happy with. But it was also the closest shave I’ve had as well – I was seriously lucky not to get involved in the Grundy-Holland shunt that stopped race one.

“Donington… The pace was not so great. It was my first time there in a Clio Cup car and I struggled and also never got a tow off my team-mate (Rory Collingbourne) after I’d given him one as he span when it was my turn to get into his slipstream! I struggled with the set-up in the first two races but in race three we’d found something which made it quite a bit better. But then – and totally my fault – I hit Dan Holland’s car and a time penalty relegated me down the result.

“Thruxton… again I never got a tow of my team-mate. I qualified reasonably well but it wasn’t where I wanted to be. In race one I had a good battle with (Cooksport team-mate) Jon Maybin and Jack Mitchell. I felt I should have got him for sixth but made a mistake. Race two was a lot better – I picked off three or four people and finished fifth and had some good pace in the end.

“That race was also my best so far this year. I pulled off a perfectly executed move on the exit of the chicane past Rory (Collingbourne). It really helped me get that fifth place.

“Oulton… I struggled with front-end set-up in race one but still defended well to take sixth and in race two I got my first Graduate Cup win with fifth overall after a really big fight with Paul Rivett, Brett Smith, Mitchell and Jon (Maybin).

“Croft… we found some half decent pace and qualified sixth overall so I was really happy with that. The first race I found myself having to keep Ant (Whorton-Eales) behind for fifth which was very hard work. In race two I got up to fourth but then the car had a fuel surge problem – basically it was cutting out along the straights – so that cost me at least one place but I should have had another fifth.

“The last corner on the last lap at Croft I made my biggest mistake so far. I gave Mitchell a whiff of a chance down the inside and he got me on the run to the line by a nose. I should never have given him the opportunity…”

The results chart does not fib, though. At 18, Ladell clearly has the potential to emerge as a real thorn in the sides of the main title protagonists in the season’s remaining eight races at Knockhill, Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch.

“I’m aiming for fifth in the championship,” he added. “There are only four points between Mitchell (fifth), Jordan Stilp (sixth) and me in seventh. Hopefully I can even come away from Knockhill with that position – I had genuine front-running pace there last year.

“I’m getting stronger all the time in qualifying and compared to last year I feel my pace is a lot better in qualifying and the races. The consistency is there – I’m always in or around the top five – and I’m happy with my races. It’s been quite a clean season for me and I really believe the move back to WDE will help me to bigger results.”