Zelos and Pidgley sure top results will come sooner rather than later

Ciceley pair Dan Zelos and Ollie Pidgley both reckon it is a case of when and not if results in the Renault UK Clio Cup begin to reflect their pace as they head into this weekend’s two races at Oulton Park.
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Like Ciceley team-mate Max Coates, both are new to the UK Clio Cup in 2016. Coates’s greater racing experience, however, has perhaps showed and he has been a regular threat at the sharp end of the grid – indeed he took a pole position for only his third race in the category, at Donington Park.

By contrast 18-year-olds Zelos and Pidgley have just one top ten finish to show between them from the season’s first six rounds.

Zelos qualified third on his debut at Brands Hatch only to crash out at the first bend and there was more misfortune at Thruxton where he started the two races from strong sixth and fifth places on the grid.

“For me it’s just a case of better luck,” said Zelos. “OK, at Brands, my first race in it, I probably had a few nerves and I was straight in the gravel!

“At Thruxton after race one I hated myself because Ciceley were going to have to repair the car again but they didn’t mind. That helped me keep my chin up and I’m going to Oulton with another strong qualifying and then two big results as my target."

And Zelos has received some words of wisdom from Adam Morgan – Ciceley’s star driver in the British Touring Car Championship and Team Principal of its UK Clio Cup squad.

“He's told me it took until Oulton in his first BTCC season until he finished finish a race," added Zelos. "In all honesty, I’d rather be determined and take a few knocks than simply be running around in the midfield and collecting a few points here and there.

“I’ve come from Ginetta Juniors and suddenly I’m up against drivers who’ve got touring car experience. It is a big jump but I’m enjoying it massively – particularly with a team like Ciceley.

“I certainly know I’m in the best one-make ‘tin top’ championship in Britain.”

By contrast Pidgley says qualifying has been his weakness and is confident that his race pace and craft can carry him to much stronger results if he can start higher up on the grid.

He explained: “The Dunlop tyre we use in the UK Clio Cup is an amazing tyre in what it can do but it definitely has a short peak period. I never have a problem wondering if I'm fast enough – it’s about learning how to bring the tyre in at just the right moment in qualifying and making that peak performance last a whole lap without error.

“It’s nice that it has an edge to it and certainly the drivers who’ve been about longer can probably get the most out of it as in timing exactly when to push them in qualifying. It’s a very interesting area for a young driver to learn about.”

Pidgley, who comes from a background in karting and Formula 4 single-seaters, says the UK Clio Cup is delivering everything a driver could wish for in terms of competitiveness and close on-track action.

“It reminds me of karts in many ways – you can either get stuck in or watch it from behind the fence. You’d better be ready for the odd bent wing mirror,” he continued.

“Qualifying well is vital. People you don’t expect to then suddenly bang in a lap and go P5 or whatever. Even at Thruxton, where the times are normally a bit spread out, just a few tenths of a second made a big difference to your grid position.

“I actually believe Oulton this weekend will present more overtaking opportunities than at Thruxton. It is possible to put people under pressure and set them up two or three corners before going for the move. I’ve generally tended to move forwards in the races so I’m looking forward to it.”