South Yorkshire’s Dorlin will arrive at Croft with a scant four point advantage over North Yorkshire’s Coates at the top of the table with three-time Champion Paul Rivett close behind in third, just a further eight adrift.
With a maximum of 56 up for grabs from this weekend’s two races – rounds nine and ten of the 18-round championship – all three drivers will be determined to go into the mid-season break as the one ahead.
Significantly this trio locked out both podiums in the championship’s most recent rounds at Oulton Park in Cheshire – Dorlin winning race one ahead of Rivett and Coates before Coates then won race two ahead of Rivett and Dorlin.
Race one at Croft this weekend will take place on Saturday afternoon (16:00) following a half-hour qualifying session earlier in the day (11:20-11:50). Race two is on Sunday (13:55) and will be broadcast live by ITV4 as part of the channel’s comprehensive coverage of the event which also features the latest rounds of the high profile British Touring Car Championship.
Indeed, Croft marks the only time of the year that the north-east of England is visited by the BTCC, the Clio Cup and its other supporting categories. A huge trackside crowd is therefore anticipated…
For many, Team Pyro driver Coates is the ‘real local’ at Croft – his family’s home (and garage business) is only five miles away in Scorton. However Westbourne Motorsport’s Dorlin, from just down the A1/M1 in Barnsley, can also expect a rapturous welcome.
Dorlin is also ahead on race wins with five to Coates’s two so far in 2018. WDE Motorsport’s Rivett is the other winner to date and both he and Coates have won at Croft in the past (Rivett three times; Coates with a memorable maiden victory in 2016).
However many more drivers on the Clio Cup’s quality entry list are capable of challenging for the top step of the podium, among them Dorlin’s and Rivett’s experienced team-mates James Colburn and Lee Pattison who are already proven race winners.
Adding to WDE’s ranks are three more highly determined drivers – Sam Osborne, Nicolas Hamilton and Dan Zelos whose qualifying form of late has been among the strongest on the grid.
Meanwhile lining up alongside Coates at Pyro are three teenage sensations: 17-year-old Jack McCarthy and 16-year-olds Bradley Burns and Zak Fulk. McCarthy is currently fifth in the standings and Burns, a protégé of top BTCC squad BMR, sixth.
‘Ones to watch’ undoubtedly will be fourth-placed Daniel Rowbottom, former BTCC ace Michael Epps who leads the Matrix Motorsport team’s charge and MRM pair Jade Edwards and Brett Lidsey. All being well, Edwards will be in action despite a much publicised roll at Oulton Park; Lidsey returns to action after missing Oulton so he could get married!
Matrix’s numbers are boosted by another ex-BTCC racer Andy Wilmot, promising youngster Aaron Thompson and team boss Jeff Alden, while Luke Warr appears in his small BLG Racing team’s car. Each has shown flashes of speed during the season and will want to go into the break with strong performances – notably at Oulton, Warr achieved his first championship points so will be feeling confident.