The 17-year-old joined the UK Clio Cup grid with the Derby-based squad for the final two events of 2015 – at Silverstone and Brands Hatch – and quickly started showing flashes of speed.
20Ten has enjoyed a number of race wins and other podium results in the UK Clio Cup these past two years and Team Principal Simon Hunt clearly believes Watkins is an exciting prospect. He commented: “Silverstone and Brands Hatch were all about Sam getting a taste for what the UK Clio Cup is about and he adapted well.
“As his experience of both the car and the touring car-type racing in the UK Clio Cup builds I can see him emerging as a real front-runner as the 2016 season progresses. Certainly I’m very happy to have been able to hang on to him as we look to build on our positive results.”
Watkins, who has previously raced in Ford Fiesta Juniors, said: “I learnt a huge amount at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. This is all about racing on the big stage alongside the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) so now I know what to expect in 2016.
“The biggest thing is being confident in a racing situation – the UK Clio Cup is where drivers come to show what they are made of before the step up to international touring car, sportscar or GT competition so inevitably things get very competitive. But having now tested the water I feel ready for what lies ahead and am really looking forward to getting back on track with some pre-season testing.”
Renaultsport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager Will Fewkes added: “It’s great to see Sam returning for a full season in the UK Clio Cup after showing some very promising form in his first two events. 20Ten also have a sound reputation for bringing on new talent and this is a driver-team combination that could just spring a surprise or two in 2016. It will be interesting to see how they progress together during the course of a full season…”
All of the Renault UK Clio Cup’s races will again take place at the BTCC’s high-profile events in 2016 meaning huge trackside crowds plus live free-to-air television coverage on the ITV4 channel for its teams, drivers and sponsors.