Dickenson Wins Dramatic Rockingham Clio Opener


David Dickenson got his 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Series campaign off to the perfect start after taking victory during an action-packed opening race at Rockingham.

Dickenson had led the way in the opening qualifying session of the year, taking a pair of pole positions in his Team Pyro-run third-generation Clio Cup racer.

Before he’d even lined up for the start there was drama for two of his closest rivals though, with TCR team-mates Mike Robinson and Andy Jordan unable to take up their second and third places on the grid due to a broken driveshaft and a popped out VVT engine sensor respectively.

This meant at the start, Dickenson’s closest rival was his Pyro team-mate, fourth placed Ollie Pidgley, meaning the pole man got a clean getaway into the Deene hairpin behind.

More drama unfolded behind though, with contact in the pack causing suspension damage to Pete Bennett’s Finesse Motorsport Clio, which ultimately forced him into retirement a few laps later.

Further around the opening lap, a tangle between Pidgley and multiple Clio Series race-winner Luke Herbert eliminated both, meaning fast-starting Paul Streather had moved up from fifth to second.

Not content with that, the privateer quickly mounted an attack on the leader, successfully overhauling Dickenson on the run to the Brook Chicane on lap two, shortly before the safety car appeared to aid the clean-up of the lap one incident.

The action resumed a lap later with Streather leading Dickenson and Jacques Mizzi, the Westbourne Motorsport ace having climbed up from seventh on the grid. Streather only held the lead until lap five though, when a slight mistake under braking for Deene dropped him to fourth.

He regained a place a few laps later though, when Mizzi lost his chance at a maiden Clio podium after spinning into the barriers at the exit of Chapman.

That incident triggered the appearance off the safety car again, with the race concluding under caution with Dickenson taking the win, and the fastest lap with it.

“I was shocked at the start when I looked over and Mike [Robinson] wasn’t there and then [Andy] Jordan pulled off before the start too.” said Dickenson.

“Paul [Streather] got past me with a great move and I sat behind him for a few laps, put the pressure on and he out-braked himself into the first corner. It’s never nice winning under red flags, but I was kind of happy to in the end!”

The result was taken back to lap nine, meaning Dickenson was classified with the win by 4.6 seconds from SV Racing’s Tommy Ostgaard – though this changed post-race when Ostgaard was excluded  from the results due to having incorrect rear tyres.

This handed Streather a well-deserved second, and gave SV Racing’s Sam Randon a podium finish on his race series debut. Brett Lidsey took fourth, while Tom Butler and Andy Wilkins completed the top six as the final ‘racecar’ class finishers, the race of attrition having claimed six of the class entrants.

“I never, ever thought I’d lead my first race in Clios on the budget we’ve got,” added a delighted Streather. “Running the car myself, with friends and family helping out, it’s a lot of hard work – I’m engineering the car, driving the car, doing all of the checks. Before the weekend I would have thought a podium was impossible!”

In the ‘roadcar’ class meanwhile, pole-sitter Jake Honour led the opening race of the year from start-to-finish, and was rarely under threat en-route to victory.

Circuit-racing rookie Luke Pinder held second early on, before Nic Harrison grabbed the spot prior to the first safety car period.

Anton Spires had started second in class, but was elbowed back early on. The Westbourne Motorsport ace fought back though, and rose to second with a great pass on Harrison at Deene on the lap four re-start.

Spires closed on Honour late on, but it was too little too late, though he did end the race with the class fastest lap. Harrison completed the class podium ahead of Pinder and Sarah Franklin.