Leading Renault Clio UK Cup team Scuderia Vittoria ended the series’ official Media Day test session at Brands Hatch on a high with James Dixon heading the 23-car field.
On his local circuit and on the eve of his 22nd birthday, the Kent ace lapped comfortably beneath last year’s pole position as he fired a warning shot to the Clio opposition that he will take a lot of stopping in 2012.
Dixon, who switches to Scuderia Vittoria for a crucial season in his career, delighted co-team principal Danny Buxton – himself a former Clio champion.
“James was quickest on old tyres, then stayed quickest for a long time even as the others switched to new tyres. Then he put on his new set and found four tenths of a second and went fastest in both sectors of the lap.
“He is very very mature, he never gets flustered, he’s incredibly smooth and obviously very fast.
“We’re working on a measured approach to winning a championship this year, and that starts now. We’re not getting carried away, but it’s the first box ticked: P1 on the Media Day. Done!”
Buxton was also very impressed with Finlay Crocker and Vic Covey Jr, the Scottish duo both lapping within one second of team-mate Dixon’s best on their step up from the Scottish Mini Challenge.
“Finlay we think should have been in the top eight, but unfortunately he had an incident on his run on new tyres, which prevented him showing what he can do.
“Vic is building his confidence well. If he can work on finding time on new tyres he’d be in the top eight too, and his progress towards front-running pace is coming right in time for the first race of the season.
“I was very pleased with both Finlay and Vic, as stepping up to Clios is a real challenge and they’re making strong steps in the right direction. They should both be up there and in the mix for the opening round.”
Ronnie Klos, who like Crocker and Covey is backed by One Call Insurance, was absent from the test.
Scuderia Vittoria is also delighted to confirm that Dorset teenager Luke Wright, one of the most promising drivers from the 2011 Clio Cup, will remain with the squad for this season. “He has been ultra-quick in every test he’s done so far, and we’re really looking forward to having him back in the team for a championship challenge,” said Buxton.
Wright was one of the 2011 season’s best qualifiers. He also took a sensational double win with Scuderia Vittoria on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in an event that brought together competitors from the UK series and the hotly-contested Dutch championship.
The team and all five drivers are now looking forward to the opening round of the Clio Cup at Brands Hatch on March 31/April 1. Once again it will feature as one of the most popular elements of the British Touring Car Championship package, and will enjoy live television coverage on ITV4.