Aron Smith took a superb lights to flag victory in Round 12 of the 2011 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK, leading home a Team Pyro one-two, while Paul Rivett moved back to the top of championship standings after rival James Dixon retired early on.
A good start from polesitter Smith saw the Irishman lead into Riches for the first time, with a great start from Jack Goff seeing him move into second ahead of Scuderia Vittoria pairing Matt Allison and Luke Wright. Behind, Dixon looked to make progress from a poor qualifying position, but contact with Jake Packun at Riches left him running straight on through the gravel.
Dixon recovered back on track, but was forced to retire a couple of laps later with a broken steering arm. This was good news for championship rival Smith, who by this point had broken clear with team-mate Goff. This left Allison defending third from James Colburn, who had gained a place when Wright dropped back to seventh on lap two, before falling further back on the next lap. Colburn made his way past on lap three, with Allison losing another place a lap later to Paul Rivett.
Ahead, Goff began to put Smith under real pressure as the race reached its conclusion, with Colburn catching them both. Less than a second split the three on the final lap, but Smith held on superbly for his third win of the season, with Goff and Westbourne Motorsport's Colburn both taking their fifth podiums of the season. Colburn also had the pleasure of leaving Norfolk with the new lap record for the Clios.
Rivett took fourth and with it the championship lead he had held coming into the weekend, with Allison fifth, local driver Josh Files sixth ahead of his Pyro team-mates Adam Bonham and Neb Bursac. Packun took ninth, with Wright ending up tenth. Craig Currie took eleventh ahead of Masters Cup winner Mark Proctor, who just edged out his Total Control Racing team-mate Nicolas Hamilton, Darren Wilson and series newcomer Tim Sweet.
Smith said: “The race was about a million times better than yesterday's. I got off the line brilliantly at the start – it was like I had traction control! After that it was happy days really. The team did a brilliant job of getting the car back together, staying at the track until 2am, so the win is all theirs. I got out of the car yesterday and didn't think that I would be racing here today so this win makes it all worth it.”
Championship Standings After Round Twelve
1. Paul Rivett Lumison BlueSquare Data / Stancombe Vehicle Engineering 264 pts
2. Aron Smith Team Pyro 253 pts G
3. James Dixon Total Control Racing 249 pts G
4. James Colburn Westbourne Motorsport 247 pts G
5. Jack Goff Team Pyro 208 pts G
6. Jake Packun Get On Track Developments 183 pts G