2011 Renault Clio Cup Winter Series Champion Aaron Williamson - Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

 

Aaron Williamson proved the star of the show in the 2011 Renault Clio Cup Winter Series, the Ginetta Supercup regular winning both the races at Rockingham, his first races in the one-make championship.

Qualifying for the opening race saw Adam Bonham line up on pole, his best time of 1min 42.175s putting him 0.453 seconds clear of closest rival Williamson. Jake Giddings was next up, ahead of Joseph Girling, Ray MacDowell, Andy Jordan and Swedish racer Kim Andersson.

A slow start for Bonham allowed Williamson to dive into the lead, but a good move at Deene saw Bonham regain the place, while slotting into third and fourth were Giddings and Girling. MacDowell, father of BTCC racer Alex, got up to fifth at the start, before dropping back to sixth at Tarzan after a rough move by Jordan. Losing further ground over the next two laps, MacDowell dropped behind Andersson to end up seventh, before fighting back to regain sixth at Tarzan on lap three.

At the front, Williamson closed onto Bonham's tail and got alongside on the run out of the final turn on lap three, drafting past to take the lead. This allowed Giddings onto their tail and the Ginetta Junior graduate made a late lunge at Deene, passing Bonham but making contact with Williamson, damaging his car and retiring.

The commotion allowed Bonham back into the lead, but Williamson stayed on his tail and got alongside on the run out of the final turn on the next lap. Bonham held onto the place though, however an identical move a lap later saw Williamson finally regain the lead.

The race was then interrupted by a safety car period, to allow the marshalls to retrieve Giddings stricken car. At the end, a good restart for Williamson saw him hold the lead, gradually breaking clear as Bonham struggled to hold second. Girling looked to make a move at the final chicane, but made contact with the rear of Bonham, sliding him round. Bonham remained in second, with Girling dropping behind Jordan and Andersson into fifth.

Ahead, Williamson was driving into the distance and crossed the line to win his maiden Clio Cup race by 10.6s. Bonham continued to hold up those behind, putting Jordan into the clutches of Andersson, who got into third at Gracelands on lap twelve, before passing Bonham on the final lap to take second. Bonham just held off Jordan to complete the podium, with Girling and MacDowell completing the finishers. 

Swedish Racer Kim Andersson (#55) Impressed At Rockingham - Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

 

The drivers second fastest times from qualifying made the grid for race two, with Bonham once again on pole ahead of Williamson. MacDowell lined up third ahead of Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Girling. Total Control Racing duo Giddings and Jordan were next up, with Sibsport Performance's Andersson once again rounding off the grid.

A great start for Girling from fourth saw him draft into the lead round the outside, however Bonham held the inside line at Deene to regain the spot. Girling dropped into third behind Williamson, though he soon lost the spot to MacDowell at Pif Paf, before dropping to fifth behind Andersson on lap two.

As the race developed, Williamson started catching Bonham at the front, while MacDowell began coming under pressure from Andersson, the Swedish racer getting past at the final chicane on lap three, while behind Giddings nipped past Girling for fifth.

At the front, Bonham was coming under immense pressure from Williamson, the latter getting alongside on the run to the final chicane on lap four and finding his way past, with Andersson following through to take second. Bonham's nightmare was continue on the next lap, a spin on the approach to Gracelands dropping him down the field, the ex-Ginetta Junior racer retiring soon after.

This promoted MacDowell to third, but the veteran racer was closed down by Giddings, the teenager getting by on the run out of the final chicane on lap seven. Behind, Clio returnee Jordan made a good move on lap nine to take fifth from Girdling.

The final few laps saw Andersson right on the tail of Williamson and made a couple of moves for the lead, but was unable to get past, Williamson taking his second win of the weekend to take the Winter Series title. Giddings took third, a positive end to the weekend after his race one retirement, with Girling fourth, Jordan fifth and MacDowell sixth after a late spin.