Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire will host the eagerly awaited final two rounds of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series season next weekend, 20th/21st September, where the inaugural champion of the all-action category will be crowned.
With seven victories, including the last four back-to-back, Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Surbiton) is the champion elect and will arrive in the North East just over a week from now holding a significant 52 point lead at the top of the standings.
Having enjoyed a sensational campaign, with a total of nine podiums from the 10 races contested, Robinson, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday the day after the race meeting, is all but certain to secure his first car racing title. As with motorsport at any level, though, absolutely anything could happen in rounds 11 and 12 to derail that prospect.
Closest rival David Dickenson (Wicklow), who competes for Team Pyro, is the only driver who can prevent Robinson from winning the coveted crown and the accompanying prize test in a new fourth generation Renault Clio from the sister Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup.
Having led the championship at the start of the year after winning round one at Rockingham and bagging another podium in race two, the Irishman added his second win in three races during the first of the Oulton Park encounters in May but driveshaft failure in round four led to a no score.
It took until round seven at Brands Hatch for Dickenson to return to the podium and since then he has added two further rostrum visits to his tally, taking his haul for the year to six so far – but with Robinson’s unbroken streak of four wins the points gap has continually increased. Dickenson does face an incredibly tough challenge to try and pinch the title, but it’s by no means impossible.
The battle for third in the championship is a much closer fought affair and, in actuality, Westbourne Motorsport’s Luke Herbert (Chichester) and impressive first year privateer Paul Streather (Hinckley) can both still usurp Dickenson for the Vice-Champion’s position.
Herbert is currently 23 points behind the Irishman in the standings while fourth placed Streather is a further 22 adrift of Herbert when the category’s single ‘drop score’ ruling is applied. Having scored in every race of his maiden Renault Clio season, Streather’s consistency does actually play against him.
Fifth in the championship is Pyro’s Brett Smith (Wellingborough), who only debuted in the series in time for round five where he claimed a runner-up spot and then sealed a superb maiden victory in only his second race in the category. From the six races contested, he has taken five podiums.
The top six is completed by Smith’s team-mate, rookie car racer Ollie Pidgley (Downton) who is the lead driver in the Sport Class for inexperienced competitors. Pidgley is currently 20 points behind his fellow Pyro racer.
Rounds nine and 10 last month at Snetterton proved decisive in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series with Westbourne’s Anton Spires (Milton Keynes) wrapping-up the championship with two races to spare – and all on his 22nd birthday too.
It’s been a truly remarkable year for Spires who, at the wheel of his race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 roadcar, has won seven of the 10 races and never finished off the class podium. Even though he has to ‘drop’ 27 points as his lowest score of the campaign, such is the youngster’s advantage over his rivals the championship is done and dusted.
Nic Harrison (Stretton, Burton-on-Trent) is locked in a tight battle with lady racer Sarah Franklin (Kettering) over the Vice-Champion’s position and privateer Jake Honour (Devizes) is by no means out of the running either.
Harrison, driving his self-run CGHimports.com Clio, is tied on points with Franklin but on drop scores his advantage stands at 18 points. Honour, meanwhile, who has had a luckless season despite being a double winner at the beginning of the campaign, is more than 40 points shy of Harrison – but in terms of the maths, he can still end the year as Road Series runner-up.
Day one of the Croft weekend will be all about qualifying, with the round 11 and 12 session for the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series taking place at 13.20 on Saturday, 20th September. On Sunday, 21st September, race one will begin at 12.40 with the season finale beginning at 17.10.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices.
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series Driver Standings (after Rd10 inc. drop score):
1st Mike Robinson, 282pts; 2nd David Dickenson, 230pts; 3rd Luke Herbert, 207pts
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Driver Standings (after Rd10 inc. drop score):
CHAMPION: Anton Spires, 296pts; 2nd Nic Harrison, 215pts; 3rd Sarah Franklin, 197pts
Official website: www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/cliocupseries
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Cliocupseries built by Racecar
Full results and timings available at www.tsl-timing.com