Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) clinched his second ELF Renault Clio Cup victory in succession with a lights to flag win at Silverstone National circuit in round 17 on Saturday, 30th August. The Total Control Racing man beat JHR Developments’ pole-sitter Paul Rivett (Banstead) off the line and held off almost continuous pressure for 18 laps to take the chequered flag.
Team Pyro’s Newly-crowned champion Ben Winrow (Earls Barton), in what will be his final race as he looks towards raising funds to enter the British Touring Car Championship in 2009, pipped Range Storage with Robertshaw Racing’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) for third on the final lap.
Hodgetts wasted no time in asserting himself on the race by pulling a car length clear off the line to lead Rivett into Copse corner for the first time. Rivett tried to regain the lead at Becketts but Hodgetts forced the double former champion wide as they joined the National Straight.
Winrow slotted into third ahead of Pattison followed by TCR’s Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) and Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood), who had got ahead of Double Six Racing’s Rob Boston (Doncaster). Mardi Gras Motorsport’s Gavin Pyper (Fleckney), TCR’s Mike Robinson (Effingham) and APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) completed the top 10.
Further down the order, Amery Motorsport’s David Shepherd (Sandbach) and Team Pyro’s Jeff Smith (Wellingborough) came together forcing Shepherd into retirement and condemning Smith to spend the race adrift of the field in last place. Meanwhile, Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford) was caught up in two separate incidents, the second with JHR’s Mark Hazell (Llanhennock) and EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey), which ended the race of the driver lying third in the overall standings.
Lap two saw Pattison pass Winrow for third place with an opportunistic move at Brooklands. Pattison, aiming for a first podium in Clio Cup racing, set the fastest lap to that point on lap three before Winrow responded with a new lap record for the latest Clio Cup race car of 1min 06.274s (89.02mph).
As the top four paired off, the closest battle on track saw Robinson pass Boston for seventh on lap five after overcoming Pyper on the second tour. TCR’s 12th placed Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple) was coming under pressure from Coastal Racing’s Carl Bradley (Morecambe), succumbing on lap seven before losing two more spots to Mardi Gras’ Árón Smith (Rathfarnham) and Full Speed’s Chaz Small (Braunston) as he ran wide at Becketts.
Lap 12 saw Rivett make another bid for the lead round the outside at Becketts but once again Hodgetts defended as Rivett clipped the kerb and dropped back towards Pattison and Winrow. They were joined by MacDowall as it became a four-way battle for second place and then five-way for first as the pacy Rivett brought the train of cars up to Hodgetts’ bumper.
Two laps later, Winrow made a rare error to run wide at Copse allowing MacDowall and Lanik past, although he re-passed Lanik at Brooklands. By lap 16, the new champion was back in fourth after a neat move at Luffield and once again chasing Pattison for third, while Lanik slipped behind Robinson and Boston. In midfield, a tap in the rear by Árón Smith on Osborne saw the latter drop two places to 13th on lap 13, eventually finishing 14th having been as high as 10th on lap one.
Lap 16 saw Bradley pass Pyper for ninth, a good result having qualified a below-par 16th. The closing laps saw Winrow inexorably reel in Pattison, who was struggling with damaged steering after an earlier skirmish between the pair. In heart-breaking fashion for Pattison, the inevitable happened at Becketts on the final lap as Winrow took the final podium place to put a seal on the championship victory in familiar style.
Despite having the slower car of the pair and suffering from illness, Hodgetts held off Rivett for the victory with MacDowall and Robinson rounding out the top six. Commenting after the race, Stefan Hodgetts said: “There’s nothing too technical about starts, I just went for it and came out ahead. I had to defend quite hard and at one point I tried to back Paul up into the chasing pack to try to make him defend rather than come at me. We struggled a bit for pace so there’s work to do but I’m obviously delighted to get the win.”
Third-placed Winrow, who plans to not contest the final two rounds at Brands Hatch, said: “It’s great to end the season on the podium although bizarrely, this is my worst finishing position of the year. The fact that is the case is quite incredible and it’s been a fantastic campaign overall thanks to Pyro. In the race, Lee was very quick in the first six laps but I could see him struggling in the second half. I made an error that gave me more work to do passing Niki and Alex but I was glad to snatch third on the last lap.”
2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup provisional drivers’ standings – round 17 (incl. dropped scores)
1 Ben Winrow GBR Team Pyro 468 pts
2 Paul Rivett GBR JHR Developments 355 pts
3 Phil Glew GBR Full Speed Racing 307 pts
4 Carl Bradley GBR Coastal Racing 236 pts
5 Mike Robinson GBR Total Control Racing 216 pts
6 Niki Lanik AUT Y4HR Miracle Drywash with SVE 191 pts
7 Alex MacDowall GBR Total Control Racing 187 pts
8 Árón Smith IRL Mardi Gras Motorsport 183 pts
9 Robert Gaffney GBR EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing 179 pts
10 Gavin Pyper GBR Mardi Gras Motorsport 165 pts