06/06/2019

Why we’re getting all revved up for Croft’s Clio Cup action

North Yorkshire’s Croft Circuit is always a favourite venue on the Renault UK Clio Cup calendar – here are three good reasons to get excited about what lay in store there in just over a week’s time.
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1. Nowhere else, it seems, boasts a more knowledgeable, enthusiastic and appreciative trackside crowd. No matter where a driver finishes, each is applauded on the cool down lap.

Much of that applause will this year be aimed towards the three locals on the Clio Cup grid: Max Coates, Ethan Hammerton and Finlay Robinson.

Coates, who lives just down the road in Scorton, has won twice before on home ground. A victory (or two) this time around would surely rank among his finest achievements as he seeks to strike back in the title race following a difficult time last time out at Donington Park…

For Northallerton based Hammerton and Harrogate’s Robinson, this will be their first experience of racing in front of their local BTCC crowd.

Rumours that Coates and Hammerton have been spending the sizeable gap in the calendar teaching ‘southern’ team-mates Jade Edwards and Jamie Bond the local lingo could not be confirmed as we went to press…

2. After the speed he showed on his debut at Donington, Bond is our second reason to get excited about Croft. A late deal meant he had little time to prepare for Donington’s races, but the amiable sun bed store manager immediately looked at home with a fourth place and a fastest lap.

With some testing under his belt since, could he be on the podium at Croft and even challenge for wins?

Likewise, Ben Colburn? The Westbourne driver pulled off a blinder of a move on Hammerton to earn himself a breakthrough top-three result at Donington and at Croft his confidence will be on a high.

3. Finally, Croft’s race lap record has stood longer than any other, dating back, remarkably, to 2004 when Jonny Adam circulated in one minute, 31.509s in his TCR-run Clio 182.

Some point to a new track surface at the time, others to a lack of tighter track limits rules that we see today, although that is perhaps doing Adam – a true Clio Cup great – an injustice.

For 2019, Croft has undergone a total resurfacing and some are predicting gains of over a second as a result. If Adam’s record can’t be beaten, it will stand forever, this being the Clio Cup’s final season.

Notably, only last year was Dave Newsham’s qualifying lap record (1m31.452s) set in 2010 beaten – by Coates it transpired, with a time of 1m31.195s.