Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) won his second successive race with victory in round three of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup at Rockingham International circuit on Sunday, 13th April. The Team Pyro racer made a great start from Michelin pole position and set the NGK fastest lap on route to victory ahead of Mardi Gras Motorsport’s Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) and JHR Developments’ Paul Rivett (Banstead).
The start of the race saw Winrow edge clear of Pyper as the Scot defended his second position. JHR’s Richard Cannon (Chesterfield) made a superb start to climb to fourth from 11th on the grid, while APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) moved from 17th to 11th. JHR’s Mark Hazell (Llanhennock) retired after contact with Amery Motorsport’s Jonathan Shepherd (Sandbach), an incident that saw Hazell penalised by the Clerk of the Course.
Action at Deene Hairpin on lap two saw Coastal Racing’s Carl Bradley (Morecambe) pass P9 Raceshop/Range Storage’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) and the pair swapped places twice at Tarzan later in the lap. At the rear of the field, Pyro’s Jeff Smith (Wellingborough) ran wide at Gracelands, hitting the barrier with some force to bring out the Safety Car and eradicate Winrow and Pyper’s already considerable advantage over the rest of the field.
As the cars formed a train behind the safety car, Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood) was up from 27th on the grid to 18th, while Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Effingham) had the reverse situation of falling from seventh on the grid to 19th.
At the restart, Winrow expertly backed up the field enabling him to retain the lead ahead of Rivett and the two of them managed to rebuild their advantage. Lanik continued to gain ground by passing Valtra with FSR’s Peter Felix (Allestree) at Deene hairpin, before Felix returned the favour on the following lap.
The battle for 10th place saw EPS UK with Solutions Racing’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey), Mardi Gras’ Árón Smith (Rathfarnham), APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) and Amery Motorsport’s David Shepherd (Sandbach) arrive at Deene hairpin together, with Smith passing Gaffney and Shepherd losing out as he dropped to 17th during the course of the lap.
The leading trio were now evenly spaced, while Smith was able to break free of the chasing Osborne and Gaffney and then pass JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing’s Derek Pierce (West Kilbride). On lap eight, David Shepherd dropped a further four places after contact with Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford), with Lanik caught up in the incident to also fall four places to 21st.
On lap 10, Carl Bradley finally managed to pass Richard Cannon at Yentwood having been within a handful of car-lengths for much of the race. Cannon, suffering with a steering problem after tapping team-mate Rivett on the opening lap, soon came into range of Double Six Racing’s Rob Boston (Doncaster) but was able to keep him at bay until the final lap when the Double Six scholarship winner clinched fifth place.
With four laps remaining, the action throughout the field continued to thrill the thousands of spectators. TCR’s Mike Robinson, having regained two places after a poor first lap, out-braked himself into Deene hairpin allowing Felix and Lanik to pass. Lanik then passed Felix for the third time in the race to finish in 16th. On the last lap, Árón Smith passed TCR’s Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple) for eighth place.
At the head of the field, Pyper began to reel in Winrow’s lead by a few tenths of a second per lap, with Rivett following in third, but ran out of time before he was able to apply real pressure. Winrow’s final winning margin was 1.728s, with Rivett just over half a second behind.
Commenting on his victory, Ben Winrow said: “My start was pretty good and I could see Gavin drop away slightly and that let me get a bit of a gap early on. Unfortunately the Safety Car took that away from me but I was soon able to get back up to speed and the car felt great, as it has all weekend.”
Second-placed Gavin Pyper said: “I had to defend a bit at the start but nothing too dramatic. My pace was pretty similar to Ben’s so it was difficult to gain any ground but it’s great to be on the podium after the disappointment of not finishing the second race at Brands Hatch.”
Third-placed Paul Rivett said: “It was a slightly lonely race for the most part and although I did start to catch the guys in front towards the end, unfortunately it’s not much good at the end! It’s a third straight podium though and that’s a great way to start with the championship in mind.”
2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup provisional drivers’ standings – round 3
1 Ben Winrow GBR Team Pyro 94 pts
2 Paul Rivett GBR JHR Developments 85 pts
3 Phil Glew GBR Full Speed Racing 54 pts
4 Árón Smith IRL Mardi Gras Motorsport 52 pts
5 Gavin Pyper GBR Mardi Gras Motorsport 42 pts
6 Derek Pierce GBR JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing 42 pts
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