Double former champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) got his 2008 title hopes back on track with victory in round nine of the ELF Renault Clio Cup at Croft circuit on Saturday, 31st May. The 2002 and 2004 champion, racing for JHR Developments, led home Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford) in a season’s best second place with Team Pyro’s championship leader Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) in third.
After the race, a protest by Winrow regarding an overtaking move by Glew on the first lap was upheld by the Clerk of the Course. The Clerk imposed a time penalty to reverse the finishing positions, placing Winrow second and Glew third.
Earlier in the day, an appeal to the Stewards of the Meeting saw Winrow given a 30-second penalty for a false start in round eight at Thruxton, reducing his lead in the drivers’ standings to 54 points at the start of the race. Rivett’s win and Winrow’s second place brings the margin down to 48 prior to round 10 on Sunday, 1st June.
At the start of round nine, Rivett made a clean getaway from pole position to lead Winrow into the first corner. Team Pyro’s Neil Waterworth (Rochdale), replacing Jeff Smith for one event, moved from seventh to fourth but was given a drive through penalty for a false start. Further down the order, JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing’s Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) had the best start, gaining four places to lie 12th.
The 28-car field navigated the first corner Clervaux and then Hawthorn, but a three-car incident involving Full Speed’s Peter Felix (Allestree), JHR’s Mark Hazell (Llanhennock) and Mardi Gras Motorsport’s David Dickenson (Keatingstown) saw the Safety Car deployed. At the end of the lap, Glew passed Winrow for second at the Hairpin making contact with the rear of Winrow’s car. Winrow was inadvertently tapped by Bradley with the result being damaged steering for the championship leader.
The race restarted on lap four with Rivett immediately opening a half-second gap over Glew with Winrow a similar distance behind in third, coping with damaged steering. In midfield, P9 Raceshop/Range Storage’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) gained two places on lap five by passing Pyro’s Chris Law (Guernsey) and Total Control Racing’s Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple).
Behind the leading trio, before fourth-placed Waterworth served his drive through penalty, Coastal Racing’s Carl Bradley (Morecambe) was defending vigorously from Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Austrian driver Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood). Just behind, APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) was engaged in a similar tussle with Double Six Racing’s Rob Boston (Doncaster).
In the race for 11th place, Ridley-Holloway tapped Mardi Gras’ Árón Smith (Rathfarnham) at the Hairpin, the Irish driver taking to the grass and losing his front bumper. Despite losing aerodynamic efficiency, Smith fought well to finish in a battling 11th place. JHR’s Steven Hunter (Dronfield), attempting to come through from the back of the grid after an electrical problem in qualifying, locked his brakes into the Hairpin to lose ground as he went for 17th place.
On lap seven of the extended 14-lap race, Rivett increased his lead over Glew to one second having already posted the NGK fastest lap of the race on lap five at 1min 33.489s (81.82mph). Lanik continued to press Bradley, particularly closing up under brakes at Tower Bend, but great defence from Bradley prevented him finding a way past. Just behind, Law had a great run at Smith through Barcroft but was unable to pass and lost out to Team Wood Racing’s Lea Wood (Hereford), who also passed Ridley-Holloway.
As Lanik and Bradley continued the fight for fourth, with Waterworth back in 18th after serving his penalty, Osborne and Boston closed to make it a four-way battle. Boston got alongside Osborne on the run to Clervaux, but ran slightly wide out of the chicane and took to the grass. Losing momentum allowed Mardi Gras’ Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) to pass for seventh with Boston rejoining in eighth.
On lap 11, Smith came into the Hairpin in 11th place at the head of an incredible train of 11 cars as the Clio Cup drivers once again provided thrilling entertainment throughout the race. On the penultimate lap, Pyper passed Osborne at Tower for sixth place but both were slow out of the corner allowing Boston to pass Pyper through Jim Clark Esses for the second time in the race. Osborne, Pyper and TCR’s Nick Adcock (Bromyard) came out of the Hairpin as one to start the final lap before Adcock took eighth place behind Osborne.
On the slowing down lap, Pyper made contact with the rear of Adcock’s car, an. incident that led to his exclusion from the classification. This carries a four-point licence endorsement, a penalty also applied to his championship score. The four points is doubled to eight as it is his second offence of the season.
Behind the finishing order of Rivett, Glew and Winrow, Bradley held off Lanik to the flag for fourth place, while Pattison completed the top 10 behind Pyper. In the overall standings, Pierce drops out of the top 10 after his fire extinguisher went off in the car forcing him to retire on lap four, while Full Speed’s Glenn Bell (Portadown) had a fuel pump issue that caused him to stop on lap seven.
While drivers swapped places behind, Rivett drove a flawless race to take victory by 1.452s. Commenting on his lights-to-flag win, Rivett said: “It was a perfect race from my point of view, I can’t remember having a ‘moment’ or making even a slight error anywhere. After the restart, I opened a gap to Phil and then eased off to manage the distance but never felt under threat.”
Second-placed Winrow said: “I feel everyone finished in their rightful place in the end. It’s a bit disconcerting when the steering wheel doesn’t point straight and it’s a shame we couldn’t take the fight back to the front two. Third on the road wasn’t where I wanted to be but given the damage, which is my first of the season, it was great to stay in the podium places and hopefully I can lead from the front tomorrow.”
Third-placed Glew said: “At the end of the race I was delighted to be back on the podium because it’s been a long time coming since Brands Hatch. The team did a great job with the set-up and I managed to qualify well, which really helps in the race. I don’t think I caused the main damage to Ben’s car because I was trying to avoid him but that’s the decision that’s been made. I start third on the grid again tomorrow so that’s another chance for a podium finish.”
Round 10 of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup takes place on Sunday, 1st June, scheduled to start at 15.45.
2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup provisional drivers’ standings – round 9
1 Ben Winrow GBR Team Pyro 251 pts
2 Paul Rivett GBR JHR Developments 203 pts
3 Phil Glew GBR Full Speed Racing 159 pts
4 Carl Bradley GBR Coastal Racing 151 pts
5 Árón Smith IRL Mardi Gras Motorsport 117 pts
6 Mike Robinson GBR Total Control Racing 110 pts
7 Niki Lanik AUT Y4HR Miracle Drywash with SVE 97 pts
8 Robert Gaffney GBR EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing 96 pts
9 Alex MacDowall GBR Total Control Racing 95 pts
10 Lee Pattison GBR P9 Raceshop/Range Storage 80 pts
For all the latest ELF Renault Clio Cup Championship news visit the official Renault Sport UK website www.renaultsport.co.ukbuilt br Racecar