2011 Renault Clio Cup Season Review


Paul Rivett Came Out On Top In A Four Way Clio Cup Title Battle – Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

 

This season’s AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK was one of the best in recent times, with Paul Rivett emerging from a superb four way title battle with Aron Smith, James Colburn and James Dixon to win his third Clio Cup championship.

A quick start to the season for Rivett saw him take the early championship lead, the Lumison BlueSquare Data-backed driver taking a win and a podium apiece at the first two rounds at Brands Hatch and Donington Park. Total Control Racing’s Dixon was in touch early on though, taking the other two wins in the first four races.

Irishman Smith stamped his intent on a title charge next time out at Thruxton, the Team Pyro star taking a double victory to put him in contention. The weekend in Hampshire also showed Colburn’s first signs of a title push, the Westbourne Motorsport driver picking up his first podiums of the year.

Over the next four meetings, Rivett stayed in contention despite not picking up a podium finish in eight races, which allowed the other to close up in the championship battle. A win at Oulton Park meant Dixon managed to tie on points at the top, however Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Rivett edged back in front after Croft, the duo then switching the championship lead back and forth during the next meeting at Snetterton.

The whole time, Smith and Colburn continued picking up podiums to remain in the fight, meaning heading into the penultimate meeting at Rockingham, the top four in the championship were split by just seventeen points. With Dixon, Smith and Colburn all picking up podiums and Rivett unable too, the top four closed up even more, with Smith taking the championship lead for the first time all season.

This meant that heading into the final weekend at Brands Hatch, the top four were separated by just four points. The opening race saw Colburn take a long-awaited maiden victory to move into the championship lead, with Rivett taking second ahead of Smith, while a lowly tenth place finish for Dixon ended his title hopes. In the final race, 2002 and 2004 champion Rivett used all his experience to take the race win, his first win in six months, and with it the championship glory, third and fourth place proving not to be enough for Smith and Colburn respectively.

As well as with title contender Smith, Team Pyro also enjoyed success with three other drivers during the campaign. Top of the list was Jack Goff, who kept himself on the edge of the championship battle throughout the year with three wins, including a sensational double victory at Rockingham.

Jack Goff Starred At Rockingham, But Was Unable To Mount A Title Challenge – Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

 

Fellow Pyro team-mates Josh Files and Adam Bonham were both competitive through the year, Files taking two podiums, while Bonham just missed out on podium glory with best finishes of fourth.

2011 saw the emergence of a new team in the Clio Cup, Scuderia Vittoria. Set up by three ex-racers, including 2001 series champion Danny Buxton, the team ran Matt Allison and Luke Wright for the majority of the season and enjoyed some success.

Former BTCC racer Allison took a double win at Croft, while Wright enjoyed podium joy at Croft and Snetterton. Allison left the series two meetings early though, with Ant Whorton-Eales taking his seat and proving competitive from the start, regularly running in the top eight with a best finish of fifth.

At the start of the season, Total Control Racing were making the headlines when they announced Nicolas Hamilton would be driving for them. The racing rookie enjoyed a strong maiden season, particularly towards the end of the season when he broke into the top ten for the first time.

The team also ran fellow rookie Tom Grice at the start of the season, the newbie taking one podium at Thruxton before he was forced to pull out after five weekends. Just like team-mate Dixon missed out on the main championship on the final weekend, Mark Proctor also agonisingly missed out on a title, losing the Masters Cup class crown in the last race.

Picking up those honours was Darren Wilson, the 20Ten Racing driver enjoying a strong consistent year, picking up a best result of eighth overall. Clio Cup regular Lee Pattison had a good start to the season, taking a podium on the second weekend at Donington Park, however he was to leave the series after the next weekend. This left his JHR Developments seat open and while it remained empty for most the year, Rob Boston entered in it for the final two meetings and ran comfortably in the top ten.

20Ten Racing’s Darren Wilson Won The Masters Cup Class – Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

 

Final 2011 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK Championship Standings:

Position

Driver

Team

Points

1

Paul Rivett

Stancombe Vehicle Engineering

356

2

Aron Smith

Team Pyro

348

3

James Colburn

Westbourne Motorsport

348

4

James Dixon

Total Control Racing

324

5

Jack Goff

Team Pyro

272

6

Jake Packun

Get On Track Developments

255

7

Josh Files

Team Pyro

209

8

Adam Bonham

Team Pyro

198

9

Matt Allison

Scuderia Vittoria

168

10

Tom Grice

Total Control Racing

150

11

Luke Wright

Scuderia Vittoria

145

12

Craig Currie

Team Pyro

136

13

Darren Wilson

20Ten Racing

127

14

Nicolas Hamilton

Total Control Racing

113

15

Mark Proctor

Total Control Racing

105

16

Chris Swanwick

Team Pyro

100

17

Lee Pattison

JHR Developments

85

18

Ant Whorton-Eales

Scuderia Vittoria

68

19

Rob Boston

JHR Developments

51

20

David Dickenson

Team Pyro

49

21

Neb Bursac

Team Pyro

30

22

Andy Gorton

20Ten Racing

30

23

Matthew Munson

Stancombe Vehicle Engineering

15

24

Tim Sweet

20Ten Racing

14

25

Simon Belcher

Handy Motorsport

13

26

Chris Smith

Scuderia Vitorria

10

27

Mark Gibbons

Stancombe Vehicle Engineering

5

28

Andy Jordan

Total Control Racing

0