Great Fightback In First Clio Race Of 2012 For TCR's Hamilton‏

Total Control Racing's Nicolas Hamilton enjoyed a strong start to the 2012 AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup season at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit today, Saturday, 31st March, by claiming a 13th place finish during the first race of the year - all after battling back superbly from 24th position on lap one!Forced to mount a tremendously determined fightback following a robust opening lap, having lined up for the opening round of the new season at the head of the eighth row, Hamilton underlined his ever-improving pace by lapping within just 0.4 seconds of the race winner's best.Bundled back to the tail of the field on lap one, the Disabled Motoring UK ambassador - younger brother of FIA Formula One World Champion, Lewis - set about carving his way through the order but with the racing as close as ever the task wasn't an easy one.Still in 20th position at mid-distance Hamilton, who celebrated his 20th birthday earlier this week, made big gains during the second half of the race and charged back into the top 15 before grabbing two further positions during the closing stages.Team-mate Rob Smith, embarking on his first ever saloon car race today, made good initial progress from 18th on the 25 car grid to move into the top 15 by the end of lap one. Lapping strongly in the thick of the midfield action, the 19-year-old looked on course for a potential top 10 challenge but on lap six disaster struck when Smith's Clio was pitched into a spin at the exit of Surtees.Rejoining at the tail of the field before sensibly pitting to check for damage, Smith headed back into the race to gain some essential track time and mileage but any hope of a points finish were dashed unfortunately as he circulated three laps down on the leaders.Smith's unexpected spin certainly came as a surprise but after running slightly wide at Druids Hairpin a couple of corners before the incident at Surtees, it's believed some minor damage to one of the tyres may have led to the excursion."Both lads had a lot of hard work to do in today's race, but we've been a bit on the back-foot all weekend to be honest", said TCR team principal Lee Brookes, "Nic did a great job to come back through and finish where he did, his pace was very strong too. It was very unfortunate for Rob how the spin happened, he'd been doing a good job up to that point."For round two of the 2012 AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup, which is scheduled to take place at 15.00 tomorrow, Sunday, 1st April, Hamilton will line-up 15th on the grid while Smith will start his second ever Clio Cup race from 19th position. The race will be screened live on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4, on ITV4 HD and will be streamed online at itv.com/touringcars

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