When it came to race wins and being in front in 2018, no one came close to James Dorlin.
The Westbourne Motorsport driver won six of the season’s 18 rounds and led 70 out of a total of 242 laps. They equate to almost 160 out of the 481 miles-plus clocked up… (see below for final end of year stats).
But he did not achieve the highest number of podium results. That honour fell to eventual Champion Paul Rivett who stood on the rostrum 11 times during the season compared to ten for Dorlin and nine for third-placed Max Coates.
Also consider that Rivett suffered two non-scores (a heavy crash at Donington Park and a spin at Snetterton) as did Coates (first lap damage at Rockingham and an accident at Silverstone) while Dorlin escaped with just a single zero against his name (puncture leading to retirement at Croft).
But the one that perhaps really tipped it in Rivett’s favour was his canny consistency: of the 16 races in which he did score, only once was he outside the top four whereas for Dorlin and Coates that statistic read five and six times respectively. That, right there, is a whole bunch of points gained and lost…
As well, Rivett, Dorlin, fourth-placed Daniel Rowbottom and Jack McCarthy were the only drivers to achieve the maximum 28 points in a single race. Dorlin in fact managed it twice (at Thruxton and Oulton where he also took a remarkable fifth win in a row – a feat not managed since 2009).
Notably, Dorlin ended the season with the highest points haul in a single event when he scored a whopping 54 in total thanks to two poles, two wins and a fastest lap at Thruxton (just two shy of the possible maximum of 56). Bradley Burns was next best with his 52 at Silverstone (two poles, two wins).
However, no driver managed the clean sweep of two poles, two wins and two fastest laps. Similarly, no team was able to achieve a 1-2 result during the season, although Westbourne came mighty close at Donington where Dorlin and team-mate James Colburn crossed the line in first and second positions before the latter was demoted by a time penalty…
One statistic alone that perhaps shows just how competitive it was on track is that 11 drivers set the fastest race lap in the 18 rounds. No driver managed it more than twice – among them, with the first two FLs of his Clio Cup career, MRM’s Brett Lidsey.
The one that arguably stood out more than most, however, was Nick Reeve’s – on his debut in wet conditions at Snetterton for the Specialized Motorsport team while still aged just 16 years and three months old.
Similarly seven different drivers qualified on pole position for races. ‘The king’ here was Coates with his grand total of five but it was another MRM driver Jack Young’s pole for the season finale on the daunting Brands Hatch GP circuit that possibly caused the biggest stir.
At 16 years, 11 months and 19 days it made him the youngest driver in history to qualify on pole for a UK Clio Cup round. Previously this was a record that had stood for 13 years yet, in 2018, it suddenly tumbled no fewer than three times – first to McCarthy (at Brands Hatch Indy’s season opener), then his Pyro team-mate Burns (next time out at Donington) and finally Young.
Above all, this was a reminder of just how the Clio Cup has increasingly become an essential part of a young driver’s career path towards touring car stardom… Ditto McCarthy and Burns making for the youngest front row of a grid in championship history when, with a combined age of 35, they qualified first and second at Rockingham. And again at Silverstone when Burns, just turned 17, became the youngest winner in history.
Finally, five new lap records were set in 2018 – four of them in qualifying: to Coates (Croft), Dorlin (Snetterton), Burns (Silverstone) and Rowbottom (Brands GP). The fifth, a race lap record at Donington, also fell to Burns.
At a glance: 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup statistics...
5 Max Coates
4 James Dorlin & Bradley Burns
2 Jack McCarthy
1 Paul Rivett, Daniel Rowbottom, Jack Young
6 James Dorlin
4 Max Coates
3 Daniel Rowbottom
2 Paul Rivett & Bradley Burns
1 Jack McCarthy
Laps Led (out of 242)
70 James Dorlin
53 Max Coates
35 Bradley Burns
33 Paul Rivett
29 Daniel Rowbottom
18 Jack McCarthy
4 James Colburn
Miles Led (out of 481.2435)
159.7987 James Dorlin
99.7485 Max Coates
68.1627 Daniel Rowbottom
58.0912 Bradley Burns
52.5284 Paul Rivett
34.9980 Jack McCarthy
7.9160 James Colburn
7 Paul Rivett
3 Bradley Burns
2 Max Coates, Daniel Rowbottom, James Dorlin, Michael Epps
4 Daniel Rowbottom & Jack McCarthy
3 Max Coates
2 Paul Rivett, Lee Pattison & James Dorlin
2 Paul Rivett, Daniel Rowbottom, James Dorlin, Brett Lidsey, Zak Fulk, Bradley Burns, Lee Pattison
1 Max Coates, Jack McCarthy, Nick Reeve, Jack Young