ELF Renault Clio Cup championship leader Ben Winrow recorded his seventh win of the season in round 13 at Snetterton on Saturday, 12th July. The Team Pyro ace made light of mid-race rainfall to lead home Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford) by just 0.363s. At his home venue, series returnee Matt Allison (Norwich) was just behind the leaders in third for Robertshaw Racing.
From pole position, Winrow immediately came under threat from the fast-starting Steven Hunter (Dronfield) of JHR Developments. The pole-sitter held his lead and was soon being chased by EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) as he came up from third on the grid with Glew tucked in behind. In midfield, a slide by Pyro’s Jeff Smith (Wellingborough) saw him collect Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Effingham), both retiring from the race.
As the top three edged clear, Glew made a bid for second place and took the position on lap three. In eighth place, Mardi Gras Motorsport’s Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) led a train of three cars including TCR’s Fulvio Mussi (Colchester) on his return to the championship and Pyper’s team-mate Árón Smith (Rathfarnham). Behind Smith, TCR’s Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) also led a three-car group as the Clio Cup drivers served up thrilling action throughout the field.
Having dropped to seventh on lap two after starting second, Allison began his comeback by setting the fastest lap to that point on lap three and passing Double Six Racing’s Rob Boston (Doncaster). Pyper and Mussi swapped places twice in as many laps, while APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) passed MacDowall as the midfield battle began to warm up. At the head of the field, Glew was beginning to close the gap on Winrow to just over one second.
Lap six saw Allison pass Hunter for fourth place before a brief rain shower caused several drivers to slide off the track at the Esses, where oil had been dropped by the preceding race. As the leader, Winrow was the first to suffer but managed to keep control, while Glew slewed even further onto the grass before recovering in third behind Gaffney. Just outside the top 10, Osborne and MacDowall both slid and collided as they rejoined the circuit, causing both to retire.
One of the beneficiaries was JHR’s Paul Rivett (Banstead), who moved up to eighth behind Árón Smith by keeping a smooth line through the chicane. The Safety Car was brought out to recover two stricken cars, while Coastal Racing’s Stephen Tyldsley (Guiseley) also retired on the seventh lap. His team-mate, Carl Bradley (Morecambe), found himself in 10th having started an unfamiliar 22nd on the grid.
The restart came on lap 12 and Glew immediately passed Gaffney for second as Rivett lost two places to P9 Raceshop/Range Storage’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) and Bradley. After initially dropping back, Pyper picked up the pace to make it six for the lead with Pattison heading the chasing pack in a race extended to 19 laps due to the Safety Car.
Lap 14 saw Gaffney edged out of the podium places by Allison at the Bomb Hole and although he tried to hit back, the teenager couldn’t re-pass the former race-winner. Hunter took advantage to close the gap, forcing Gaffney to defend his fourth place. Meanwhile, Glew had closed the gap on Winrow with the gap at less than half a second starting the final tour of the 1.95-mile circuit.
With the top five running nose-to-tail there was no margin for error and all five drivers lapped within two-tenths of a second of each other, negating any chance of overtaking. Winrow set the fastest lap of the race, a new lap record, at 1min 18.213s (89.84mph) on the final lap to secure the victory, with Glew just holding off Allison through Russell Chicane for the last time.
Now with a 55-point lead in the drivers’ standings, Winrow commented: “It was a very up and down race with cement dust on the track covering the oil and then the rain coming that caught most people out. I was never able to get a big lead but Phil and Robert swapping places helped me keep the lead so it’s turned out perfectly.”
Second-placed Phil Glew said: “Having been third for the last four races it’s great to move up one place and hopefully I’ll go one better in tomorrow’s race. I had a massive moment at the Esses but managed to catch it and get back past Robert and I’m really happy with second.”
Third-placed Matt Allison said: “I was a bit wary of the start because it was my first in the new car and I was right to be because I didn’t make a good one and was about sixth by the first corner. I’m a bit disappointed because I felt I had the pace in the car to win but I did well to come back through and hopefully I can improve the start tomorrow.”
Round 14 takes place at Snetterton circuit on Sunday, 13th July and is scheduled to start at 14.25.
2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup provisional drivers’ standings (incl. dropped scores) – round 13
1 Ben Winrow GBR Team Pyro 346 pts
2 Paul Rivett GBR JHR Developments 291 pts
3 Phil Glew GBR Full Speed Racing 245 pts
4 Carl Bradley GBR Coastal Racing 175 pts
5 Robert Gaffney GBR EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing 149 pts
6 Alex MacDowall GBR Total Control Racing 147 pts
7 Gavin Pyper GBR Mardi Gras Motorsport 144 pts
8 Árón Smith IRL Mardi Gras Motorsport 142 pts
9 Mike Robinson GBR Total Control Racing 141 pts
10 Niki Lanik AUT Y4HR Miracle Drywash with SVE 139 pts