Renault Clio Cup UK 2011 Mid-Season Review


Ten races into its sixteen race season, the 2011 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK is shaping up to be a classic, with close, exciting racing producing five different race winners so far this year. Double champion Paul Rivett currently tops the standings, but has three drivers in close pursuit.

Pre-season saw a few new rules introduced in an attempt to cut the costs involved for competitors in the series. This included a reduction in the number of races from 20 to 16, a reduction in tyre allocation to 48 slick tyres per year and a reduction in official test days. Alongside these, the series has a new title sponsor in long haul airline AirAsiaX.

The season began at Brands Hatch, with James Dixon taking the opening win of the year at his local circuit, while Rivett took third in the opener and the win in Round Two to take the early championship lead. Jack Goff and Jake Packun took opening podiums, while also making the headlines was Nicolas Hamilton as he made his debut in the series, the Total Control Racing driver taking a solid twelfth in his first ever car race.

Two weeks later the series headed to the Midlands and Donington Park, with Dixon and Rivett dominating the weekend, taking a win and podium each. Packun continued his strong start to the year with third in race one, while the weekend also saw 2010 series runner up Lee Pattison take his only podium finish of the season, as he left the series one meeting later to compete in the Ginetta Supercup.

Thruxton saw a third driver emerge in the title fight, Aron Smith. The Irishman, returning to the series after a season away, dominated the weekend to take a double victory. The weekend also saw James Colburn and car racing rookie Tom Grice make their first trips to the podium this season.

Oulton Park was next up, with Dixon taking the opening victory ahead of Colburn. Third place went to Goff, before the Team Pyro driver went two better in the second race and took a hugely popular maiden series win. Dixon took third to leave him and Rivett tied on points at the top of the standings at the halfway stage.

Croft was the last meeting before the summer break, with the weekend dominated by the Scuderia Vittoria team. Lead driver Matt Allison led the way with two wins, while team-mate Luke Wright made it a one-two in the second race. With the championship top two suffering tough weekends, it was Colburn and Smith who shared the remaining podium places to close in at the top.

Renault Clio Cup standings after Round Ten: 

Position

Driver

Team

Points

1

Paul Rivett

Stancombe Vehicle Engineering

224

2

Aron Smith

Team Pyro

221

3

James Dixon

Total Control Racing

217

4

James Colburn

Westbourne Motorsport

207

5

Jack Goff

Team Pyro

168

6

Jake Packun

Get On Track Developments

157

7

Tom Grice

Total Control Racing

152

8

Matt Allison

Scuderia Vittoria

148

9

Adam Bonham

Team Pyro

122

10

Craig Currie

Team Pyro

101

11

Chris Swanwick

Team Pyro

100

12

Josh Files

Team Pyro

98

13

Lee Pattison

JHR Developments

85

14

Luke Wright

Scuderia Vittoria

84

15

Darren Wilson

20Ten Racing

79

16=

Mark Proctor

Total Control Racing

61

16=

Nicolas Hamilton

Total Control Racing

61

18

Matthew Munson

Stancombe Vehicle Engineering

15

With last season’s top two Dave Newsham and Sam Tordoff moving into the BTCC and Porsche Carrera Cup GB respectively, the stars of 2011 will be hoping to make a name for themselves in the second half of the year to help them step up next season.

After three years of seeing drivers dominate the series, fans will relish seeing a close title battle as the season draws to a close at Snetterton, Rockingham and Brands Hatch. Rivett currently holds the lead as he looks to make it a hat trick of Clio crowns, but any one of three other drivers could wrestle the title away from him.

TCF’s three to watch:

  1. James Colburn – The darkhorse in the title fight, Colburn’s great consistency this season has put him in with a chance, despite not winning a race. Rarely out the top six all season, he’s taken four podiums and will be hoping to add more as he forms a late title charge.
  2. Tom Grice – Stepping up straight from karting into the Clio’s is a big step for a young driver, but Grice has done it very well. He has been battling regularly in the top six and will be hoping to add to his podium at Thruxton in the next three meetings.
  3. Luke Wright – Wright has been in the wars so far in 2011, getting caught up in accidents at Thruxton and Croft, but the former single seater racer has also shown some good pace, as proved by his podium at Croft. He will be exciting to watch as he challenges for more in the final six races