Total Control Racing continued its success in the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK at Donington Park, with the team's quartet of drivers all enjoying a positive weekend at the Leicestershire circuit. Leading the way once again was James Dixon, taking a win and a podium for the Wednesbury squad.
Thursday practice saw TCR lock-out the top two places with Dixon and series rookie Tom Grice. The duo continued their pace during qualifying, with Dixon taking two pole positions, his first of the season and Grice setting the third fastest time for both races.
Stockbury-based Dixon was unable to convert his pole position into a win, with championship leader Paul Rivett jumping him at the start and holding him off throughout the race. Dixon did take the Graduate Cup win, with the result also moving him into second in the points.
Grice missed out on a maiden podium finish after getting caught in an incident with Lee Pattison yards from the start. He managed to continue and took fifth place at the finish, just 0.7 seconds off fourth. Fellow rookie Nicolas Hamilton out qualified three rivals to line up fifteenth and converted this into a seventeenth place finish. Team-mate Mark Proctor was one to pass the teenager, the former BTCC racer taking fifteenth place.
Commenting on race one, TCR team principal Lee Brookes said: “James definitely had a chance of the win, he did everything right in qualifying and it was all about the start in the end. Second is still a great result though and keeps him right in the championship hunt. Tom did pick up a bit of damage early on so to race as well as he did, and finish top five was a great effort. He's had great pace all weekend.
“Unfortunately for Mark qualifying proved to be a bit of a problem but he's got his first finish of the year under his belt so hopefully he'll build from that. Nic did his best qualifying by far and acquitted himself well in his first proper race in among traffic, he really did a superb job.”
Race two saw Dixon produce a better start from pole, taking the lead and maintaining it throughout the race for his second overall win and third Graduate Cup class win of the season. The result sees the TCR man move to within twenty-two points of Rivett at the top of the drivers standings.
Grice endured a tough race, being pushed back to sixth early on, before contact at the Craner Curves saw him lose more ground. He recovered to eighth, but was punted into a spin at Redgate on lap nine, before yet more contact on lap ten forced him to retire.
Hamilton produced the best drive of his career to date to take fourteenth place ahead of many more experienced rivals, including team-mate Proctor, who came home one place further back in fifteenth, after losing a lot of time early on when having to go off track at the Craner Curves to avoid a spinning Craig Currie ahead of him.
Brookes added: “We're delighted to have won again in Clios. James did a great job at the start and handled the pressure really well. Two wins from the first two weekends of the season is a fantastic start.
“Tom was very unlucky to receive all of the contact he did, it really was a shame as his pace in testing and qualifying was superb. Nicolas and Mark are both continuing to improve and we're confident they'll keep moving up the order.”