Team Pyro’s Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) took his fourth successive, sixth in total, victory in round eight of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup. The 22-year-old finished almost five seconds ahead of JHR Developments’ duo Paul Rivett (Banstead) and Steven Hunter (Dronfield) at Thruxton on Sunday, 18th May in a race broadcast live on ITV4. However, the result of round eight remains provisional pending further judicial review, including a protest concerning the legality of Winrow’s start.
Winrow led into the first corner from Hunter, the JHR Team Principal making a surprise one-off racing appearance at the Hampshire venue, before Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford) passed Hunter for second at the Complex. Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Austrian driver Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood) then relegated Hunter to fourth at Village, while Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Effingham) and JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing’s Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) both saw their races end on lap one.
Mardi Gras Motorsport’s Árón Smith (Rathfarnham), starting from the back of the grid after an infringement in qualifying, wasted little time repairing some of the damage by surging to 17th at the end of the opening lap, as Rivett gained three places to fifth. In the midfield shake-up caused by Robinson’s spin at Allard, APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) climbed five places to 11th, but TCR’s Nick Adcock (Bromyard) lost out on lap two to plunge to 24th.
Rivett soon found a way past his Team Manager at Club chicane, Hunter not defending too strongly as his team member with the best title chance came past. Out in front, Winrow was setting a strong early pace as Smith gained another place in midfield passing P9 Raceshop/Range Storage’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) for 15th. The Irishman would eventually finish 14th, one place ahead of team-mate Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) who suffered the same penalty in qualifying. Contact between Pyro’s Chris Rice (Beverley) and Amery Motorsport’s Jonathan Shepherd (Sandbach) ended the former’s race on lap three, with Shepherd finishing 24th.
Lap four saw Clio Cup racing at its best on the fastest circuit in the UK. The trio of Glew, Lanik and Rivett came through the 120mph Village bend side by side, with Hunter and TCR’s Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) also looking to pick up the slipstream. As the thousands in attendance and those watching on television held their breath it was Rivett who used the experience of a double former Clio Cup champion to pass two cars and emerge in second place through Church corner, although all drivers showed tremendous skill and respect.
Glew lost out in that five-way tussle for second place and on the following lap lost three more places to ninth as Coastal Racing’s Carl Bradley (Morecambe) came through at the Complex, although there was contact that would earn Bradley a formal reprimand from the Clerk of the Course and a two-point penalty. Glew almost immediately passed EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) but had looked on course for better than an eighth place finish.
In the second half of the race, Coastal Racing’s Stephen Tyldsley (Guiseley) led a great scrap for ninth place involving Gaffney, Osborne, Full Speed’s Glenn Bell (Portadown) and Mardi Gras’ David Dickenson (Keatingstown). By this stage, on lap nine, Winrow’s lead over Rivett was more than four seconds. Meanwhile, Amery Motorsport’s David Shepherd (Sandbach) was on course for his second seventh place finish of the weekend, comfortably his best performance of the season.
An error from Lanik on lap nine that saw him run wide at the Complex allowed both Hunter and MacDowall to pass through Segrave, but two laps later Lanik was able to redeem himself with an almost identical pass on MacDowall at the same corner, although MacDowall does score two bonus points for setting the NGK fastest lap of 1min 24.221s (100.70mph). The final lap saw Tyldsley and Glew swap places twice in the race for eighth, Glew overcoming handling problems following the contact from Bradley to cling on to the place.
As the chequered flag waved, Rivett and Hunter who crossed the line in formation but Winrow came home 4.768s ahead of the JHR pair. Commenting on the race, the Team Pyro ace said: “Races are never easy because you always have to concentrate fully on every lap, especially here where it is so fast. My goal is always to open a gap early on with some fast laps and I was able to do that this afternoon. It helps when there is a battle behind and it’s great to be on the top step of the podium.”
Second-placed Rivett, commenting on his incredible double pass at the fastest part of the circuit, said: “Phil and Niki just slowed a little, maybe only a couple of miles per hour, but that’s the sort of small mistake I’m waiting for. Momentum is crucial and I was able to get past and defend into the chicane easily. You can’t think about the risks or crashing and everyone involved drove brilliantly. Second is a good result for me after two non-finishes at Donington Park and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Third-placed Hunter, appearing on the podium on the day of his son’s second birthday, said: “It’s exceeded my expectations massively to be on the podium in both races because I’ve never raced the car before. It’s a nice present for my son and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend. I always said it was a one-off to fill in for Mark Hazell and that’s the way it still stands now.”
Rounds nine and 10 of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup take place on 31st May/1st June at North Yorkshire’s Croft circuit. Carl Bradley, Jonathan Shepherd and Chris Rice all received formal reprimands and a two-point licence endorsement, which is also deducted from their championship points total.
2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup provisional drivers’ standings – round 8
1 Ben Winrow GBR Team Pyro 254 pts
2 Paul Rivett GBR JHR Developments 165 pts
3 Phil Glew GBR Full Speed Racing 135 pts
4 Carl Bradley GBR Coastal Racing 127 pts
5 Mike Robinson GBR Total Control Racing 105 pts
6 Árón Smith IRL Mardi Gras Motorsport 105 pts
7 Robert Gaffney GBR EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing 88 pts
8 Alex MacDowall GBR Total Control Racing 87 pts
9 Gavin Pyper GBR Mardi Gras Motorsport 83 pts
10 Derek Pierce GBR JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing 79 pts
For all the latest ELF Renault Clio Cup Championship news visit the official Renault Sport UK website www.renaultsport.co.uk
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