Almost a year to the day since his last win in the series, Sam Tordoff finally got a taste of the winners champagne again after a solid victory in Round 12 of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Snetterton. The Total Control Racing man picked up his maiden win at the circuit in 2009 and repeated the trick this time round to pick up his first win of the season.
After coming into the event with 10 poles from 10 races this season, many expected championship leader Dave Newsham to pick up pole in qualifying. But just like for Round 11, Newsham was beaten into third place by Total Control Racing pair James Dixon and Tordoff, this time with Tordoff taking pole. Alongside Newsham on row two was Mike Robinson, with James Colburn and Jeff Smith making up row three.
As the lights went out, it was Tordoff who made the best start, leading the field into Riches for the first time, with Dixon and Newsham close behind. Another brilliant opening lap by Lee Pattison, just like he pulled out in Round 11, saw the JHR Developments driver leap from eighth to fourth by the end of the opening lap.
Newsham immediately began to put Dixon under pressure in second, though the latter did well to soak it up while still staying on Tordoff's tail. Newsham was to be put under pressure too, with Pattison and Colburn latching onto the group, making it a 5 car battle for the lead.
Behind the front five, a three way fight was emerging for sixth between Smith, Jake Packun and newcomer to the series Josh Cook. The three ran nose to tail as the race reached its halfway stage.
At the front, Tordoff continued to lead, but was now leading an eight car train, with the trio of Smith, Packun and Cook joining the back of the front group. The front eight battled hard, each showing the right blend of attacking and defensive driving.
As they entered the final lap, the action heated up at the end of the group. Smith, Packun and Cook ran three abreast down the Revett straight, with it becoming a battle of wills as to who would brake last as they headed into the Esses. It was Smith who emerged ahead and despite the trio maintaining there battle for the remainder of the lap, the order remained unchanged.
At the front, it was Tordoff who crossed the line to win, becoming the third different race winner of the season, as well as picking up the Graduate Cup honours and the NGK Fastest Lap of the race in the process. Dixon crossed the line a close second, his second podium of the weekend securing him the ELF/Atol Driver of the Meeting award. Newsham completed the podium in third, picking up the Masters Cup class win. Pattison was next up in fourth, ahead of Colburn, Smith, Packun and Cook. Another newcomer to the series Kane Astin finished a solid ninth, while Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Matthew Munson finished tenth, his best result in the Clio Cup to date.
Next up for the Clio drivers is Rounds 13 and 14 at Silverstone on the 21/22 August. As they head there, its Newsham who remains at the top of the championship standings with a comprehensive lead over Tordoff, whose win moves him above Pattison into second, the pair separated by only 5 points.
2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin provisional drivers' standings – round 12:
1. Dave Newsham 371pts
2. Sam Tordoff 280pts
3. Lee Pattison 275pts
4. Mike Robinson 225pts
5. James Colburn 196pts
6. Jake Packun 180pts