Alex Morgan underlined his status as one of the UK’s top saloon car racers during the second event of the 2014 Eurocup Clio season at the Nurburgring in Germany on Sunday, 13th July, after securing his maiden category podium finish with the runner-up spot in round four of the championship.
The 27-year-old, who more regularly competes in the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup, managed to agree an eleventh hour deal with Italian team Rangoni Corse a couple of days prior to the race meeting and was a podium contender from the outset – brilliantly flying the flag for the UK.
“I did everything I needed to this weekend”, said an elated Morgan, “We were in the top three in every session before the first race and I’m just really relieved to have gone out there and had such a good result. We’ve not had the best of runs lately in the UK championship, so it’s great to show I can do it in Europe against a grid of drivers just as competitive as those in the UK.”
Lapping in the top three throughout practice and qualifying, Reading-based Morgan was second fastest behind reigning Renault UK Clio Cup and Eurocup Clio Champion Josh Files (Norwich) in the opening collective test and then third quickest in session two – within 0.3 seconds of Files.
Qualifying second to team-mate, and Eurocup Clio points leader, Oscar Nogues for race one of the weekend, Morgan looked well placed for a podium challenge. Starting on a wet but drying track, the Rangoni Corse team opted for treaded tyres which ultimately proved to be the incorrect decision with Nogues slipping to seventh in the end and Morgan having to settle for 10th position.
Files, also running wet-weather rubber, qualified fifth and finished sixth for Team Pyro with similar struggles as the surface dried out while Scottish team-mate Finlay Crocker (Bathgate, West Lothian) was 17th having qualified 18th fastest.
Sunday morning’s round four qualifying session was on a wet but drying track with Files dominating, taking pole position by almost 0.8 seconds with his final lap on slicks. Morgan qualified in third place, ahead of Nogues, with Crocker qualifying with the 17th best time.
Moving into second almost straight away, Morgan was nudged back to third on lap five after a Safety Car period but hit back a couple of laps later. He then pulled five seconds clear of Eric Tremoulet to claim a richly deserved second place, as well as a one-two result for Rangoni behind winner Nogues.
“Unfortunately, in race one, we had to follow what the team leader did with tyres so the race was a bit frustrating”, explained Morgan, “In race two, the car felt unbelievable at the start but after the Safety Car I didn’t have any front-end grip and had to give Oscar a bit of space. It was a really good race though and second place was great, full credit to the team for a great job.”
Files, who had an unfortunate spin into Turn Three on lap one, mounted a superb recovery to climb back into the top six. On the final lap though, at the NGK Chicane, an attempt to grab fifth resulted in contact which then flipped his Clio onto its roof. Thankfully, the British driver emerged unscathed and unaided. Crocker, meanwhile, claimed a competitive top 15 result.
Returning to the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup, rounds 11 and 12 of the British season will take place at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk over the weekend 2nd/3rd August.
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Official website: www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/cliocup BUILT BY RACECAR
Full results and timings available at www.tsl-timing.com