Highly rated ‘tin top’ ace Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) heads an impressive list of 10 drivers who have already signed-up for this year’s Michelin Clio Cup Race Series it is officially confirmed today, Friday, 23rd January, marking a fantastic start to 2015 for the flourishing one-make championship.
Joining 16-year-old Alex Reed (Horsham) at top team SV Racing, Whorton-Eales will dovetail a title bid in the 13 round Race Series with continued participation in the sister Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship-supporting Renault UK Clio Cup.
Both Whorton-Eales and Reed made one-off appearances in the Michelin-backed series last year at Snetterton, and SV Racing team principal Danny Buxton says the squad is working hard to further expand its Race Series entry before the start of the season in April at Rockingham.
Another impressive line-up has been confirmed at Westbourne Motorsport with title contender Luke Herbert (Chichester), who finished third overall last year with multiple podiums, and fellow podium finisher Sam Randon (Ashbourne). Randon joins the team for his second year in the headline Race Series, having been a front-runner and class winner in the Road Series two years ago.
Leading squad 20Ten Racing, which has capacity to field a four car entry in the headline class, will run podium finisher Brett Lidsey (Dartford), who continues the association he began with the team last year in the Race Series, and Tom Barley (Crayford). The front-running VW Cup racer will aim to build on the strong impression he made during a one-off outing in Clios last year with 20Ten.
Privateer entrant Paul Streather (Hinckley), undoubtedly the stand-out driver during his maiden Race Series campaign last year, makes a welcome return at the wheel of his immaculately prepared third generation normally aspirated Renault Clio. Having just missed out on a top three finish in the championship in 2014, Streather will start the new season as a very real threat to the pro teams.
Championship regular Pete Bennett (Blundeston), meanwhile, forms part of a planned three-car entry for top team Finesse Motorsport alongside category rookie Adam Hatfield (Cranworth) who debuted in the category last year at Brands Hatch.
Aside from the established teams, a new name set to be part of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series grid is Ricky Davies who arrives in the championship with newcomer entrant SZ Motorsport. Davies has prior racing experience in club level BMW competition but is completely new to Clios.
“To be able to confirm our first 10 drivers for the Race Series before the end of January, and with a field of such quality too, we’re absolutely delighted”, said championship promoter Simon North, “It’s a fantastic start to the year and the addition of a high-profile driver like Ant [Whorton-Eales] to the grid for the full season brings excellent momentum and even greater positivity to the championship.
“As well as the professional teams, it’s fantastic to see Paul Streather returning as a privateer. He and his close-knit group of friends and family did a fantastic job to take the fight to the experienced competitors last season. I’ve no doubt he’ll be a serious contender again.”
As well as those competitors already confirming participation in the popular Race Series for the coming season, a number of other drivers and teams are in discussion with more deals expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
Total Control Racing, which claimed the inaugural Race Series title last year with Mike Robinson (Surbiton), also intends to return to the championship as does Team Pyro which steered David Dickenson (Wicklow) to the Vice-Champion’s position.
Notably, race-winning Renault UK Clio Cup squad WDE Motorsport – which is managed by multiple champion Paul Rivett – has confirmed its intention to join the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series for the first time and, like TCR and Pyro, is keen to hear from interested drivers.
The first group of competitors confirmed for the increasingly popular and expanding Michelin Clio Cup Road Series category, which features race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 roadcars, will be announced shortly.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices with further support for the Road Series from Monster Sport Europe.