Renault UK Clio Cup title race heads North East to daunting Croft Circuit

North Yorkshire’s daunting Croft Circuit marks the mid-way point of the Renault UK Clio Cup’s 2016 season when it joins the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship for its latest hotly-contested rounds at the popular track near Darlington this coming weekend (Sat 18/Sun 19 June).
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Croft’s BTCC event marks the biggest motor sporting fixture by far for across the North-East with tens of thousands of fans journeying to it via the M1, A1, A66 and other main routes to see the star touring car drivers – normally the reserve of ITV4 – in their own back yard.

The majority of those names have come from backgrounds in Renault Sport racing in Britain – including Jason Plato and Yorkshire’s Sam Tordoff, current leader of the BTCC and who contested the UK Clio Cup not so long ago…

This year arriving at Croft picking a winner from the UK Clio Cup grid is nigh on impossible. Five different drivers have won the eight rounds held so far and another four names have carved out podium results for themselves – including, in Oulton Park’s races last time out, Croft ‘locals’ Max Coates and Senna Proctor.

Both have strong links to the BTCC – Coates races for touring car squad Ciceley Motorsport’s junior UK Clio Cup team; Proctor has the backing of Plato’s BMR outfit.

Proctor’s Team Pyro team-mate Mike Bushell it is, though, who leads the standings outright but his margin over nearest rival, JamSport’s Ant Whorton-Eales is just 14 points – Croft’s two races carry a maximum of 68.

Furthermore there is potential needle between these two arriving at Croft after two heated races between them at Oulton where each eventually took a win. WDE Motorsport’s triple Champion Paul Rivett, Team Cooksport’s Lee Pattison and fifth-placed Coates will all surely be looking to capitalise.

Likewise Finesse Motorsport’s Paul Streather, the winner of Brands Hatch’s opening round and currently sixth, WDE’s Charles Ladell – on a high after returning to front-running form at Oulton – Pyro’s Josh Price, Proctor and Team Ecomotive with Finesse’s Daniel Rowbottom who complete the top ten.

Significantly Rowbottom will arrive at Croft for official testing on the Friday (17 June) fresh from his wedding the day before! Coates, meanwhile, leads Proctor and Price in the Graduates Cup for young drivers in their first full season of UK Clio Cup competition.

And the list of those capable of getting in among the leaders and earning a first podium for themselves is seemingly never-ending. Watch as well for: Pyro’s David Dickenson, PP Motorsport’s Anton Spires, Cooksport pair George Jackson and Rory Collingbourne, JamSport’s Luke Kidsley, Finesse’s Jake Giddings, WDE’s Rory Green and Ciceley duo Ollie Pidgley and Dan Zelos. Completing the entry is JamSport’s ever-enthusiastic Graham Field who races in the Masters Cup for older competitors.

The Renault UK Clio Cup runners will first be on track at Croft for two 40-minute practice sessions on the Friday (17 June) at 11.15am and 3.45pm. The 30-minute qualifying session to determine the starting grid order for the two races takes place on Saturday (18 June) at 11.20am and is followed by the first of those races that afternoon, at 5.15pm. The second race is on Sunday (19 June) at 3.45pm and being shown live on ITV4 as part of the channel’s bumper BTCC coverage.