The build-up to the final rounds of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup has taken another dramatic turn with championship leader Josh Files suffering an unfortunate incident during pre-event testing at Brands Hatch.
In a rain-hit second session of the day, Files was bringing his Team Pyro-prepared Clio back to the pits when he locked up under braking at Druids, sliding into the gravel trap. Shortly afterwards his team-mate Ash Hand did the same, resulting in heavy contact with the rear of Files’ car.
The incident has left Pyro with a busy night ahead of them trying to repair the two heavily damaged cars, with a spare car being brought down from the team’s Leicestershire base in case the damage to either car is too severe.
“You couldn’t have scripted this,” said Files. “The car is pretty much a write-off really, the team is working hard trying to repair what we’ve got but we’re looking at getting a car brought down tonight in case the damage is too much. As long as it drives straight, I’ll be happy.
“I’d decided to come into the pits as it was getting quite treacherous, so I was on my in-lap and I just locked-up at Druids. It was my fault completely, I went into the gravel and just kissed the barrier – it wasn’t even a kiss really as the touch was very light. Just as I was unbuckling myself from the car, Ash [Hand] went off at the same point and hit the rear of my car really hard. It was so unfortunate.”
The incident is the latest chapter of a remarkable story heading into the final rounds, which started a last week when title protagonist Paul Rivett suffered an incident of his own whilst instructing at Brands, injuries caused by the shunt eventually leading to his pulling out of the meeting earlier this week.
Fortunately for Files, the testing crash shouldn’t have too much of an impact on his championship aspirations. The 22 year old merely needs to avoid exclusion in the opening race to be confirmed champion, and whilst the crash has hampered his preparations, he still ended the day top of the testing timesheets after setting a best time of 1m 48.276s in the morning session, half a second clear of his closest rival.
Pyro’s day had started superbly well, with Hand a superb third fastest in the opening session behind James Colburn, Mike Bushell fourth on his first weekend with the team, and Alex Morgan sixth on his return to the scene of his debut weekend victory back in March.
Jake Giddings led the way in the afternoon session meanwhile, his best time of 1m 54.085s nearly six seconds shy of the times set in the drier conditions earlier in the day. Colburn was second once again ahead of Morgan and Bushell, with Files down in ninth.
2007 Clio champion Martin Byford meanwhile, returning to the series in place of Rivett, improved as the day went on and finished up fourteenth overall on his first competitive outing in a Clio for six years and his first ever run in a Clio on Dunlop tyres.
Full testing results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2013/134141cli.pdf