Winrow Wins Again .....


Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) extended his championship lead with victory in round five of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup at Donington Park on Saturday, 3rd May.

The Team Pyro racer qualified on ELF/Atol pole position and although he briefly lost the lead on lap one he recovered to take the win. Robertshaw Racing had probably its best day in Clio Cup racing as J&D Pierce with Robertshaw Racing’s Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) took second place and EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) was third, both men taking their maiden Clio Cup podiums.

As the red lights went out to start the race, Pierce made the better start from the outside of the front row to pass Winrow into Redgate corner. A slight mistake heading into McLeans gave Winrow enough room to re-pass for the lead, before JHR Developments’ Paul Rivett (Banstead) nipped by Pierce at Goddards chicane to end the lap in second.

The leaders were immediately picked up by the Safety Car, deployed after an incident that saw JHR’s Richard Cannon (Chesterfield) and Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood) make contact, with Amery Motorsport’s David Shepherd (Sandbach) unfortunate to spin off while taking avoiding action. Cannon hit the concrete trackside barrier, making his participation in round six highly doubtful.

When racing resumed on lap six, Mardi Gras Motorsport’s Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) immediately put pressure on fourth-placed Gaffney, allowing the top three of Winrow, Rivett and Pierce to break away. As Winrow edged away, the chasing pack began looking to pass with Pierce attacking Rivett before coming under pressure himself from Gaffney.

The race for sixth place was equally close between Coastal Racing’s Carl Bradley (Morecambe), Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Effingham) and P9 Race Shop/Range Storage’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge). Meanwhile, Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford) had surged from 17th on the grid to 10th to run behind team-mate Glenn Bell (Portadown).

On lap eight, Rivett out-braked himself into Goddards’ chicane suffering from a ‘spongy’ brake pedal. He rejoined the circuit still in fifth place but contact with Pyper saw Rivett drop to 10th and Pyper forced to pull off the circuit in retirement. Just behind, Robinson passed Bradley for sixth, which became fourth following the contact in front.

Lap 10 saw Team Pyro’s Chris Law (Guernsey) drop to 11th after going across the grass at Goddards. On the following lap, Solutions Racing with Dewsport’s Alex Dew (Bampton) passed TCR’s Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple) at Goddards. Mike Robinson, now with a clear track ahead, set the fastest lap to that point as he closed in on a podium position.

Rivett, attempting to salvage a strong result after his earlier incident, was running just ahead of TCR’s Ray MacDowall (Carlisle) and Law. At the head of the field, Winrow set the THB Clowes Fastest Lap at 1min 18.987s (89.20mph), a new lap record, also securing two bonus championship points.

Lap 13 saw Rivett’s race end in damaging fashion when, on the run out of Coppice, Law made contact with the rear of his car spearing Rivett across the track and into the safety barrier. The incident saw Rivett’s car damaged beyond repair for the rest of the weekend, while Law was excluded from the classification by the Clerk of the Course.

As the race neared its conclusion after 17 laps, extended by three laps due to the Safety Car spell, Ray MacDowall and Law swapped places twice in the final laps as Mardi Gras’ Árón Smith (Rathfarnham) defended 12th place from Ridley-Holloway. The race for the final podium place kept spectators on the edge of their seat until the final lap, Gaffney just holding on by 0.288s having defended well in the closing stages.

While there was action aplenty throughout the field, Winrow cruised to a third win of the season by a comfortable 1.864s ahead of Pierce with Gaffney a further 1.5s behind.

Commenting on the race, Winrow said: “I bogged down a bit at the start and Derek got by me but I was able to get back in front quickly. Once the Safety Car went in I tried to build a gap to Paul and was quite pleased to see him go from my mirrors. Having said that, it’s easy to get complacent so I concentrated on keeping a good pace and keep up the results I’ve had so far this year because there’s a long way to go.”

Second-placed Pierce said: “Testing on Thursday went really well and the car’s been spot-on all weekend. It was a silly mistake to leave Ben just enough room to get through but it’s still a great result for me and I can’t thank the team enough.”

Third-placed Gaffney said: “I’ve switched teams this weekend and it’s been perfect for me. Without my sponsor EPS UK I wouldn’t be here and to get my first podium in Clio Cup is fantastic. When I saw Paul and Gavin make contact and drop back I knew I had to get my head down. Mike was catching me but I knew where to defend and hold him off.”

Round six of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup takes place on Sunday, 4th May, scheduled to start at 13.30. It is due to be broadcast live on ITV4 as part of the channel’s coverage of the British Touring Car Championship meeting.

2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup provisional drivers’ standings – round 5

1 Ben Winrow            GBR             Team Pyro                                             158 pts

2 Paul Rivett               GBR            JHR Developments                                117 pts

3 Phil Glew                 GBR            Full Speed Racing                                    81 pts

4 Derek Pierce           GBR            JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing         79 pts

5 Carl Bradley            GBR            Coastal Racing                                         78 pts

6 Árón Smith               IRL              Mardi Gras Motorsport                             75 pts

ELF Renault Clio Cup races available to view online at bilt by Racecar

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