Britain’s best aspiring touring car racers are primed to do battle at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this weekend, 29th/30th March, when a quality grid of up and coming talents line-up for the opening two rounds of the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup.
Marking the start of a new era for Renault UK’s flagship championship, the 18-round season is the first to feature the new, fourth generation turbo-powered Renault Clio racer which is based on the latest Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC roadcar.
With a new title sponsor in place, Courier Connections, and a champion’s prize package including a classic Renault 5 GT Turbo road car and the use of a road-going Clio Renaultsport 200 for one year, the 2014 title will be as hotly contested as ever.
Leading the entry in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship feeder series is returning three-time champion Paul Rivett (Banstead), the most experienced and successful Renault UK Clio Cup driver in history embarking on a new challenge as both a competitor and team manager with newcomer entrant WDE Motorsport.
Alex Morgan (Reading), last year’s Vice-Champion, will undoubtedly be one of Rivett’s main rivals in only his second season of saloon car action and the ex-Formula Renault single-seater racer also has the boost of running with support from the KX Akademy as part of a four-car SV Racing entry.
Rapid team-mates Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), Ash Hand (Nuneaton) and Josh Cook (Bath) are also part of the KX Akademy for 2014, Renault UK Clio Cup race winner Whorton-Eales being retained on the bursary programme, which is led by double BTCC champion Jason Plato, for a second year.
Reigning champion entrant Team Pyro, which carried Josh Files to the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup and Eurocup Clio titles, will be aiming to try and claim its sixth national crown in seven years with Brands Hatch local Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), who topped the official pre-season test at Rockingham, and new team-mate Rob Smith (Telford) bringing strong Clio Cup experience.
Category regular James Colburn (Worthing) will be targeting a repeat of last season’s opening round at the weekend, the Westbourne Motorsport driver having claimed victory during the corresponding fixture in 2013. Colburn is partnered this season by Devon Modell (Maidstone), another Brands local, a line-up which should certainly provide consistent front-running performances and results.
Former category Vice-Champion Lee Pattison (Scholes) is determined to go one better in the first season featuring the new racing Clio, returning with JHR Developments, and along with Rivett he will also be battling for Masters Cup class title success.
Jordan Stilp (Potterspury), one of last season’s most impressive rookies, has joined 20Ten Racing and the 19-year-old will be targeting a maiden podium finish. At the other end of the age scale, Clio Cup newcomer Craig Milner (Matlock) teams-up with Stilp while Mark Howard (Westborough) makes a return to Renault racing with Mark Fish Motorsport, 21 years since winning the Renault 5 Turbo title.
Pre-event testing for the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit weekend will take place on Friday, 28th March, with qualifying and the opening race of the season following on Saturday, 29th March, at 11.20 and 16.25 respectively. Round two, which will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with streaming on the www.itv.com/btcc website, begins at 15.30 on Sunday, 30th March.
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.