Pattison and Newsham share spoils at Thruxton

·         Wins for Lee Pattison and Dave Newsham with Newsham going top of championship.

·         Jake Packun secures maiden Clio Cup podium to lead Graduate Cup.

·         First outing for new championship Safety Car – New Mégane Renaultsport 250 Cup.

·         Round two broadcast live on ITV4.

JHR Development’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) and Team Pyro’s Dave Newsham (Inverness) took a win a piece during the opening rounds of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Hampshire’s Thruxton circuit on 3rd/4th April.

Racing in his third season, 35-year-old Pattison picked up his first win in the one-make series since 2008 during Sunday’s round two broadcast live on ITV4. Meanwhile returning driver Newsham, 42, who finished fifth in 2009, scored a lights-to-flag victory in Saturday’s season opener to move top of the points table thanks to a fourth place in round two.

Total Control Racing’s Sam Tordoff (Leeds) and Elite Motorsport’s Jake Packun (Bolton) both enjoyed double podiums over the Easter weekend with Tordoff finishing second in round one and third in round two – results mirrored by 20-year-old Packun.

The weekend also saw winners in the championship’s two new classes – the Graduate Cup for drivers aged under 23 and the NGK Masters Cup for those aged over 35. Tordoff and Newsham picked up the respective honours in round one with Packun and Pattison enjoying the silverware in the second round of the 20-race season.

Welcome return for Pattison...

In front of a packed Thruxton crowd as well as a live television audience, Sunday’s round two saw Newsham line the start gird as the Michelin pole sitter with Packun alongside him on the front row – his best ever qualifying position. Tordoff and Pattison sat on row two with Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) and Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Surbiton) behind them. Team Pyro’s David Dickenson (Keatingstown, IRE) became the first driver to be effected by the championship’s new grid penalty system introduced to promote clean driving. A two point penalty in Saturday’s race meant he dropped two grid places to start 12th.

After completing their formation lap behind the championship’s new Safety Car – a New Mégane Renaultsport 250 Cup – the 12-lap race got underway. Newsham made the best start to lead the field into Allard closely followed by Pattison who had been able to get the hop on Packun and then Tordoff. Robinson had also made up ground by the end of the first lap to lie in fifth at the expense of Colburn, the youngest driver in the field at 17, who slipped down four places to ninth.

The opening stages also saw JHR Development’s Fulvio Mussi (Abberton, Essex), who raced in Clios in 2008, move into the top five only to drop well down the order after a spin at Church. Lap five saw second place Pattison close enough to Newsham’s car to mount a challenge for the lead but the experienced former Legend’s racer quickly closed the gap.

At the halfway stage the front-runners of Newsham, Pattison, Tordoff – now in third – and Packun were beginning to edge away from the midfield. Then on lap 10, Pattison briefly took the lead through Noble only for Newsham to fight back at Church while behind Packun and Tordoff had once again swapped places. 

The next lap a fuel surge in Newsham’s car caused him to lose power which was enough for Pattison to take the lead with Packun in second, Tordoff in third and the Inverness racer now in fourth.

In the midfield, series newcomer Jack Goff (High Wycombe) racing for Team Pyro was enjoying a great battle with Westbourne Motorsport’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) for eighth and ninth places.

With no change on the final lap, despite nose-to-tail racing between the top four drivers, Pattison took the chequered flag, along with the NGK Masters Cup honours, with Packun securing second and the Graduate Cup win. Tordoff – who was later awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Event – rounded off the podium spots. Packun also secured the NGK fastest lap for the race to earn two bonus championship points as well as set a new lap record – 1min 24.079s (100.87mph average).

A post race investigation by the Clerk of the Course saw Dickenson drop one place to 11th for an infringement with Colburn.

Newsham leads in the rain...

The opening round of the season saw Newsham take up the Michelin pole position, after lapping inside the lap record (0.258s) during Saturday’s qualifying, with Pattison alongside him and Tordoff and Packun on row two.

Facing a damp 2.350-mile track, drivers opted to begin the extended 14-lap race on wet tyres. As the lights went out, Newsham got a good start but so did Pattison with the two going side-by-side into Allard with Newsham just holding on to the lead. Tordoff had also started well getting the better of Packun to move into third, while just behind the front-runners Mussi had also made up ground from 11th on the grid to move into sixth by the end of the opening lap.

The early stages saw close racing between the top four drivers with Tordoff able to get passed Pattison to move into second allowing the 20-year-old Leeds racer to turn his attention to closing the gap on race leader Newsham. A few laps later Pattison again lost out this time to a determined Packun with Colburn also taking advantage to pinch fourth place.

By the halfway stage Newsham led from Tordoff, Packun, Colburn and Pattison but it wasn’t long before Mussi broke his way into the top-five dropping Pattison further down the order.

Meanwhile in the battle for the lead Tordoff was now catching Newsham closing the gap to just 0.185s with just three laps to go. Newsham duly responded but the final lap of the race saw the two drivers run side-by-side with Tordoff just edging into the lead through Noble only for Newsham to take the lead back as the pair headed into Club for the final time.

Taking a defensive line, Newsham kept Tordoff in his mirrors for long enough to take the chequered flag by a margin of just 0.395s which together with the NGK fastest lap secured him maximum points. With Tordoff in second, Packun finished third leaving Colburn and Mussi to round off the top five. The standings also meant Newsham and Tordoff collected the Masters Cup and Graduate Cup honours respectively.

Commenting after his race win Pattison said: “I’m very happy with the win especially after a disappointing day on Saturday. In round two I was able to put pressure on Newsham particularly through the first complex where he seemed slower. I chose my moment and with a bit of luck I was able to grab the lead and stay there.”

Round one winner Newsham said: “It’s been a good weekend for us and I’m pleased to start the season off with a win. In round one I had to keep one eye forward and one eye looking in my mirrors because Sam was driving superbly plus I was struggling a little from understeer. It was a great race and it’s a shame I couldn’t repeat it in round two which was hampered by a fuel surge.”

Double podium winner Tordoff said: “Pattison put up a good fight in race one and then after that it was touch and go between me and Dave. I was faster up to Noble but Dave was quicker after that. I just needed a few more laps. Round two was another good race and overall I’m really pleased with my consistency this weekend as that’s what wins championships.”

Packun added: “It’s been a great start to the year for us and I’m delighted with my first podium in round one especially as I’m not strong in the wet. Over the winter BTCC driver Paul O’Neil has been coaching me and it’s undoubtedly paid off and now I’m just looking forward to the next rounds.”

Rounds three and four of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Rockingham Motor Speedway on 24th/25th April.

2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin provisional drivers’ standings – round 2:

1st Dave Newsham         GBR    Team Pyro                                                              56 pts

2nd Jake Packun             GBR    Elite Motorsport                                          55 pts

3rd Sam Tordoff              GBR    Total Control Racing                                       53 pts

4th Lee Pattison              GBR     JHR Developments                                    50 pts

5th Tom Carnaby            GBR    JHR Developments                                         34 pts

6th Mike Robinson           GBR    Total Control Racing                                       34 pts

Masters Cup – round 2:

1st  Dave Newsham        GBR      Team Pyro                                                            56 pts

2nd Lee Pattison              GBR     JHR Developments                                   50 pts

3rd Jeff Smith                  GBR      Team Pyro                                                            26 pts

Graduate Cup – round 2:

1st  Jake Packun             GBR    Elite Motorsport                                          55 pts

2nd Sam Tordoff             GBR    Total Control Racing                                       53 pts

3rd  Tom Carnaby           GBR    JHR Developments                                         34 pts

ELF Renault Clio Cup races available to view online at  built by Racecar