The Elf Renault Clio Cup has provided a good grounding for BTCC drivers, with Mat Jackson, Andrew Jordan, Tom Onslow-Cole, Jonny Adam and Martin Johnson all having raced in the Clios before graduating into the BTCC.
2009 saw a mixture of returning faces, Phil Glew, Alex MacDowall, Rob Gaffney, Aron Smith and newcomers to car racing, Sam Tordoff graduated up from karting. Tom Carnaby and Daniel Lloyd joined from the Ginetta Junior Championship while Andrew Herron re-joined the series after a year in the Seat Cupra Championship.
Everything was set for 2009 to be an extremely competitive season, however one driver dominated – Phil Glew, driving for Team Pyro, the team which won the 2008 title with Ben Winrow, finished in the points in every race, took 18 podiums out of 20 which included 11 wins. Phil’s season started off with 5 wins from the opening 5 races, a firm base to build on.
The main challenge came from Alex MacDowall, who took 4 wins during the season, trying to chase down Phil for the title. But with a mixture of bad luck and non-finishes meant that he was unable to keep pace with Phil in the title race and lost out by 116 points in the end.
Further down the grid was where the entertainment and interest was, as the battles were close and hard fought, which kept the crowds entertained and why the Clio Cup is such a widely loved Championship.
Overall, 6 drivers tasted the winners Champagne – and only 3 drivers took more than a single win. Phil Glew with his 11 wins, Alex MacDowall with his 4 and Stefan Hodgetts took 2 wins in the 4 races he competed in, both his wins coming in the World Series by Renault meeting on the Silverstone GP loop.
The 3 drivers who all took a single win were: Aron Smith who broke Phil Glew’s winning streak at Donington Park; Dave Newsham whose maiden win came at Silverstone on the national circuit And Sam Tordoff who took his maiden win at Snetterton, which backed up his maiden podium appearance earlier in the weekend. Sam held off the challenges of Phil, Alex and Andrew to claim his first win.
2009 belonged to Phil Glew and Team Pyro, with the fastest driver and car combination. Nobody would bet against them taking a hat trick of driver titles in 2010.
The final top 3 drivers after round 20:
1. Phil Glew – 561
2. Alex MacDowall – 445
3. Andrew Herron – 362
Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography