The 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin has been all about one man, Dave Newsham. The Team Pyro driver is walking away with the championship, picking up an incredible eight wins from ten races in the first half of the year. He holds a comprehensive 83 point lead over his nearest challenger Lee Pattison, the only other driver to pick up wins this year. A variety of changes were introduced for the 2010 season, in an attempt to increase the on track action and excitement. These included the introduction of a Graduate Cup for drivers aged 23 and under and a Masters Cup for drivers aged 35 and over, as well as the use of a new, more powerful engine in the car and a longer first race of the weekend. They have appeared to work, with the Clio Cup again producing exciting, close racing, with the series continuing to be a real fans favourite, as well as a premier feeder series for the BTCC.
The season started back in April at the fastest circuit in Britain, Thruxton. It was Newsham who secured the first pole position of the season, before converting it to win the first race of the season. Close behind was Sam Tordoff, with Elite Motorsport’s Jake Packun completing the podium. Round two went the way of Pattison, his maiden win in the series, after mechanical problems dropped Newsham from the lead to fourth. Second went to Packun, with Tordoff third.
Next stop was Rockingham, with Rounds Three and Four belonging to Newsham. He dominated the weekend, recording his first double win of the year. In race one; he recorded a tight win over Tordoff, with Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson picking up his first podium of the year in third. Race two saw another narrow win, this time with Robinson second and James Colburn third, the youngsters first ever Clio Cup podium.
A week later, they moved on to Brands Hatch, with Rounds five and six around the Grand Prix circuit. Newsham won again in Round five, a clear five second victory over Tordoff, with Westbourne Motorsport’s Colburn recording his second consecutive podium in third. Race two was played out in torrential rain, with Pattison proving to be the rain master, picking up his second win of the season. Newsham finished second, with Tom Carnaby picking up his first podium of the year in third.
Oulton Park was next up in June, with Newsham dominating the weekend just like he did at Rockingham. Two lights to flag wins cemented his position at the top of the standings, with Total Control Racing’s Tordoff finishing second in both races. Packun finished third in race one, his first podium since the opening rounds, with Pattison rounding off the podium in race two, his third podium of the season.
Croft was last up before the summer break and it was all about Newsham once again. This despite the return of double champion Paul Rivett to the series. Rivett proved to be Newsham’s closest challenger in the first race, with Tordoff third. Pattison was Newsham’s biggest rival in race two, with Tordoff again finishing third, his eighth podium of the season.
As they entered the summer break, the standings looked like this:
|1||Dave Newsham (M)||314|
|2||Lee Pattison (M)||231|
|3||Sam Tordoff (G)||219|
|6||James Colburn (G)||162|
|7||Jake Packun (G)||146|
|8||Robert Gaffney (G)||127|
|9||Jeff Smith (M)||127|
|10||Jack Goff (G)||111|
|11||Darren Wilson (M)||82|
|12||Patrick Collins (M)||76|
|13||Tom Carnaby (G)||75|
|14||James Dixon (G)||64|
|18||Alistair Barclay (G)||21|
|19||Graham Mulholland (M)||17|
With 340 points still to race for, the title certainly isn’t Newsham’s yet. But the Scotsman looks comfortable at the front and barring a major collapse, should take the title with ease, as well as the NGK Masters Cup honours. Last season, Phil Glew won an impressive 11 races on his way to the title, but with 8 wins already, Newsham looks like he could smash that figure. The main fight could be for second place between Pattison and Tordoff. Tordoff is also holding the advantage in the NGK Graduate Cup, with a comprehensive advantage over his nearest rival Colburn. With many former Clio Cup drivers, including former champions Tom Onslow-Cole, Jonny Adam and Phil Glew, making the leap from Clios into the BTCC, the stars of the 2010 field will be hoping to make a name for themselves in the second half of the year and impress the touring car team bosses.
Here’s our choice of three drivers to look out for over the second half of the season:
1. Sam Tordoff – Tordoff has been very impressive so far this season. The TCR man has picked up eight podium finishes so far, finishing on the podium in every race he has finished. However despite being on the podium eight times, he has yet to step on the top step, which has resulted in him being a long way back in the title race. With the title looking out of reach, Tordoff will be aiming to convert his pace into wins, after recording 2 last season, and will be one to look out for as he aims for second place in the championship.
2. Fulvio Mussi – Mussi has been one off the most consistent drivers in the series this year, picking up eight top six finishes in ten races. He will be hoping to build on this during the second half of the year, get himself on the podium, as a reward for the fans who are backing him with the yourracingcar.com scheme. He’s a quick driver and certainly one to look out for.
3. Jake Packun – 20 year old Packun has shown some great pace this season, picking up three podiums, including a brilliant second place at Thruxton. Currently lying third in the Graduate Cup standings, the youngster will be aiming to leapfrog Colburn into second, while continuing his good form and pushing for more podium finishes.