2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Mid-Season Review


Josh Files lead the way after ten enthralling races of the sixteen round 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup.

The tin-top championship has enjoyed one of its most competitive, action-packed seasons in recent memory, producing six different race-winners, nine different podium-finishers and some of the best racing on the BTCC support package.

The championship battle has shaped up as a duel between Files (Team Pyro) and three-times champion Paul Rivett (Stancombe Vehicle Engineering). An opening weekend podium and a superb double win next time out at Donington Park had given 34 year old Rivett the early advantage, though fastest laps in the first three races confirmed Files’ potential.

The tide began to turn in Files’ favour when he picked up a double podium at Thruxton. Although Rivett added a win at Oulton Park to remain in front, a first ever UK Clio Cup win for Files at Croft last time out capped off a run of six podium finishes in the last eight races, giving the 22 year old the advantage by three points heading into the summer break.

Morgan Has Been A Revelation Since His Switch From Single-Seaters - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Morgan Has Been A Revelation Since His Switch From Single-Seaters – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The emerging star of the 2013 season has been Alex Morgan (Team Pyro). The Clio Cup rookie stunned his rivals on the opening weekend at Brands Hatch with a sensational debut win. Since then the 26 year old has proved he isn’t a one-hit wonder, finishing in the top four in seven of the first eight races, notching up four podium finishes.

The man on form heading into the summer break was without doubt Stefan Hodgetts (Scuderia Vittoria). The 31 year old was on an inspired run of form, finishing in the top two in the last five races, taking three wins. The KX Akademy member has ground to make up though, with no top six finishes and two retirements in the first five races leaving him 48 points adrift in the standings, but on his recent form, he will fancy his chances of giving the leaders something to think as the season draws to a close.

Lying fourth in the standings with Hodgetts is fellow Clio Cup stalwart James Colburn (Westbourne Motorsport). Consistency has been the key for Colburn, having taken a top ten finish in every race, the only driver on the grid to do that. He has tasted the winner’s champagne once, winning the opening race at Brands, however he’s only been able to pick up one other podium finish since.

Pattison Has Been On Fire Since His Clio Return - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Pattison Has Been On Fire Since His Clio Return – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Making a successful return to the championship meanwhile has been Lee Pattison (JHR Developments). The 38 year old has shown his class by taking six consecutive top five finishes including a victory at Thruxton, in the process leapfrogging his team-mate Josh Cook in the standings, Cook having had a tough year with three podium finishes countered by a number of frustrating off-track moments.

Alongside JHR, another team blessed with a number of front-running drivers is Scuderia Vittoria, with Ant Whorton-Eales and recent recruit Mike Bushell joining fellow KX Akademy member Hodgetts in the mix at the front of the pack.

Whorton-Eales had a consistent start to the season with three top six finishes, but this was derailed by a massive crash in qualifying at Thruxton that ruled him out of the weekend. The 19 year old returned to form with a career-best second place in the last race at Croft.

Bushell meanwhile enjoyed a superb start to the year while running with Westbourne Motorsport, taking pole position for the first race and two podiums in the first three races. This attracted the attention of KX for a three-weekend deal, and while the switch of teams to Scuderia has led to him being unable to match his early season pace, he showed flashes of his potential at Croft.

Belcher Leads A Competitive Masters Cup Battle - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Belcher Leads A Competitive Masters Cup Battle – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Alongside the main championship fight, one of the most hotly-contested battles on the grid is for the Masters Cup. The class, for drivers aged over 35, is currently led by Simon Belcher (Handy Motorsport with Pyro), thanks to eight class podiums in ten races, including two wins.

Graham Field (20Ten Racing) is his closest rival, with ten consecutive top five class finishes, including five podiums, putting him fifteen points behind Belcher in the standings, while not far behind him is Finlay Crocker (Scuderia Vittoria), with two class wins to his name.

The man to watch in the class though is Pattison. His front-running pace has seen him pick up six class victories in eight races, and that would have been eight in eight if his overall podiums at Thruxton hadn’t left him ineligible to score in the class. While he may be 59 points adrift of Belcher, his current form leaves him well in the hunt for the class honours.

It’s all set up for a fascinating final six races in the Renault UK Clio Cup then, with the championship battle finely poised. Files and Rivett are currently on top, but with a hard-charging Hodgetts rapidly gaining ground, rookie Morgan shaking up the established order, and a number of talented racers looking to stamp their mark, the destination of the championship title is impossible to call.

It’s going to be a superb end to the season, one that the fans won’t want to miss.

TCF’s three to watch:

  1. Mike Bushell – The 23 year old hasn’t been able to follow up a strong start to the season with a consistent run of front-running finishes, but the pace is there and he’ll be in the hunt for race wins in the final six races.
  2. Josh Cook – The reigning Graduate Cup winner hasn’t really had the season he’d hoped for so far this season, so he will be entertaining to watch as he pushes to get himself on the top step of the podium by the end of the year.        
  3. Jordan Stilp – The first-year driver launched himself into the limelight at Croft by qualifying on the front row. While the race’s didn’t go to plan, if he can carry that pace forward into the second half of the season, he could be a regular top six challenger.

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Championship Standings (After Rd.10 of 16):

Position

Driver

Team

Points

Gap

1

Josh Files

Team Pyro

235

2

Paul Rivett

Stancombe Vehicle Engineering

232

-3

3

Alex Morgan

Team Pyro

215

-20

4=

James Colburn

Westbourne Motorsport

187

-48

4=

Stefan Hodgetts

Scuderia Vittoria

187

-48

6

Lee Pattison

JHR Developments

170

-65

7

Josh Cook

JHR Developments

167

-68

8

Jake Giddings

Finesse Motorsport

135

-100

9

Mike Bushell

Scuderia Vittoria

130

-105

10

Ant Whorton-Eales

Scuderia Vittoria

123

-112

11

Ash Hand

Team Pyro

113

-122

12

James Nutbrown

Team Pyro

84

-151

13

Jordan Stilp

Westbourne Motorsport

79

-156

14

Rob Smith

Total Control Racing

78

-157

15

Devon Modell

Scuderia Vittoria

67

168

16

Ignas Gelzinis

Juta Racing

57

-178

17

Simon Belcher

Handy Motorsport with Pyro

55

-180

18

Josh Wakefield

Scuderia Vittoria

54

-181

19

Aaron Williamson

Team AWR

42

-193

20

Jacques Mizzi

Westbourne Motorsport

37

-198

21

Finlay Crocker

Scuderia Vittoria

35

-200

22

Graham Field

20Ten Racing

19

-216

23

Ronnie Klos

Scuderia Vittoria

18

-217

24

Tautvydas Barstys

Juta Racing

15

-220