Scuderia Vittoria's Dixon stays in Clio Cup title hunt

Scuderia Vittoria ace James Dixon stayed in the hunt for the AirAsia Renault Clio UK Cup title with two top-six finishes and a fastest lap at Thruxton.Kent racer Dixon made great progress through the field in both races, the second of which took place in torrentially wet conditions, and as a result is fourth in the championship as the teams head into a month’s break before the next round.After a wet qualifying session, Dixon and Scuderia Vittoria team-mate Luke Wright rose up the order to finish sixth and seventh on a dry track in the first race.In wet conditions in race two, Dorset teenager Wright led Dixon as the two made their way into the top six. But, with his windscreen steaming up, Wright blindly went off the track with four laps remaining. After dropping down the field, he elected to call it a day and retire to the pits.Meanwhile, Dixon got the bit between his teeth and charged up to fourth place, catching the leading trio by a second per lap in the closing stages and finishing less than two seconds behind the race winner.“I was driving to the conditions early on,” he said, “but by halfway through I thought it was actually possible to win it. I grabbed some balls from somewhere! After that, I fired it up the inside of a few people to get a good result.“I’m actually really happy to get the fastest lap. It showed we had the pace all weekend, if only I’d managed to put my sector times together in qualifying to nail a good grid position. To come from eighth and 10th on the grid to get those results and some decent points, it shows that all we need is to start from further up the grid.”Meanwhile, One Call Insurance-backed Scuderia Vittoria also enjoyed good showings from its three Scottish drivers, who are all relative newcomers to the Clio Cup.The team’s Vic Covey Jr scored his best Clio result to date with a fine eighth in race two, following on from 13th in race one. Finlay Crocker was running well in the first race before running off track and doing extremely well do avoid a big accident. He got back on to finish, and then in race two he drove a strong race to take 11th place and his second victory in the Masters Cup category. Ronnie Klos was leading the Masters Cup in race one when he was forced out with suspension damage, but claimed third in the class in race two, with a fastest lap quicker than the overall top three.Team director Danny Buxton said: “We haven’t had an overall win or a podium, but I feel that this weekend has been really positive. In terms of the championship we’re just about still in there pitching, and James did a great job. If only he could have nailed qualifying – if he’d got his best sectors together he would have been on the front row.“Even so, we’ve not shown our true potential with James yet. He was thrown in at the deep end with a team that was new to him on the eve of the season, but approaching the second phase of the season he’s only just over a race win off the points lead. Knowing his ability, I’m looking to James to unleash his attack, and I certainly would put money on a One Call-backed Clio winning the championship.”Buxton, a former Clio champion, added: “Luke would have been up there on the grid, but he had misting-up problems in qualifying and in the race. This particular car is one he hadn’t driven before in the wet and we just couldn’t stop this problem happening. But he did a good job in the dry race to bring it home behind his team-mate.“Vic had a great weekend and showed fantastic development. I’m really pleased with how he went on a track where he had such a big accident in pre-season testing. I feel he has made a big step forward and has crossed a bridge psychologically with his tremendous performance.“Finlay made a fantastic save in the first race – he nearly had the mother and father of all accidents! – and we’re really pleased with his drive from 22nd to 11th overall in race two for his Masters win. He overtook so many cars and, if he can qualify in the top 12, which we know he’s capable of, he can finish in the top six.“Ronnie made a top effort – with a few laps to go he made it five of our cars in the top 11 before he went off briefly, and his fastest lap ahead of the top guys shows he’s got a lot of potential. He hasn’t raced for eight years, so bearing that in mind he’s well ahead of the schedule of progress we set for him.“Our three Scots are all driving each other on, and their competitive spirit is making for some exciting times for us!”“But as far as the conditions at Thruxton were concerned, I do not envy any of those guys. In race two it was the worst conditions I’ve ever seen. My advice was that it was going to be a race of attrition, and that to stay on track would gain them places. I’m so proud that, apart from Luke through no fault of his own, they all brought it to the finish.”As part of the ultra-popular British Touring Car Championship package, the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup enjoyed live coverage of its second race at Thruxton on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, and was streamed live at itv.com/touringcars. The series now moves on to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the fourth race weekend on June 9/10.

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