As early as Saturday morning the history books were being re-written as Jack McCarthy and Bradley Burns qualified fastest and second fastest overall.
Aged just 18 and 17 respectively it meant, with a combined age of just 35, they became the youngest front row of a grid ever seen in the Clio Cup.
Consider that had Rockingham been a week earlier in the calendar, that combined age would have been only 33 – Burns had only turned 17 earlier in the week and McCarthy 18 that very same Saturday morning!
They were immediately followed in third on the timesheets by Max Coates to make it a Team Pyro 1-2-3 at the front of the grid – for any team to achieve this is rare, although Pyro only has to go back to qualifying for 2017’s final round (Mike Bushell-Burns-Lucas Orrock) since it last did this!
Come Saturday afternoon there were more flickers on the Clio Cup’s statistics chart, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.
Coates’s retirement from the weekend’s opening round was – get this – the first time he had suffered a DNF in a Clio Cup race. As has been well documented, he had finished all 47 races that he had previously started but that remarkable unbroken run is now over.
There were smiles elsewhere after Saturday’s race, however. Daniel Rowbottom swept to his and his small DRM team’s second win in three races and, unlike his victory in race one at Snetterton, this time he did it with a maximum score having also bagged the bonus points for not only leading but also setting the fastest lap.
Behind, MRM’s Jack Young (unlucky on his debut at Snetterton) achieved a personal best result of seventh and Matrix Motorsport’s Aaron Thompson his highest finish so far in 2018 with a tenth. Notably MRM also took its biggest points haul in a race in the Entrants Trophy – a score of 17 thanks to Young’s ten being added to by seven for team-mate Brett Lidsey in ninth…
In race two the PBs kept on coming. Most high profile of all was McCarthy’s race win – his first in the Clio Cup. What’s more, he also did it with a maximum score (win and all the bonus points).
He was made to fight hard for it, though, by Michael Epps whose second place was also his and the Matrix outfit’s best to date (beating the breakthrough third place achieved just a fortnight earlier at Snetterton).
Seventh place was Sam Osborne’s equal best finish to date in 2018 while a haul of 45 points for Pyro – McCarthy’s first place added to by Coates’s third – matched its highest score of the season.
Still, though, no team has yet managed a 1-2 finish – and thus a perfect score of 47 – in 2018…