This year’s Elf Renault Clio Cup with Michelin was all about one driver, Dave Newsham. Driving for Team Pyro, the Scotsman ran away with the 2010 championship, picking up a remarkable 12 wins, 16 podiums, 15 pole positions and 5 fastest laps in the 18 races that he competed in.
No-one could get near the 43 year old, with a pure domination of the first half of the season putting him out of reach of his rivals. Newsham showed exceptional pace right from the start, securing a remarkable 10 consecutive pole positions at the start of the year. With eight of these converted into race wins, by the time the halfway point came round, Newsham was already 83 points ahead in the title race, with one hand on the championship trophy already.
Two more wins in the next four races saw Newsham heading to Knockhill for round seven with a chance to wrap up the title on home soil. He seized the opportunity with a superb double win, allowing him to seal the championship with four races remaining. He went on to secure another podium at the penultimate meeting, before missing the final round of the year to guest drive in the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup.
Newsham’s closest competitor in the standings ended up being JHR Development’s Lee Pattison. A race win in the opening rounds of the series at Thruxton, followed by another in Round 6 at Brands Hatch, saw him become the only driver other than Newsham to record a win in the first half of the season. Five other podiums, as well as six fourth place finishes, saw him take the crown as the best of the rest.
Chasing Pattison all the way was Total Control Racing’s Sam Tordoff, who after picking up 2 wins in 2009, headed into the season with realistic hopes of mounting a championship charge. A strong start to the season, 10 podiums in the first 12 races, including a win at Snetterton, gave him hope, but his charge ran out of steam over the second half of the year. Another win, in front of 125,000 fans at the World Series by Renault meeting at Silverstone, cemented his third place in the standings, allowing him to miss the final rounds at Brands Hatch to make his BTCC debut.
Once again in 2010, the Clio Cup produced extremely competitive grids, with eight other drivers finding their way on to the podium over the course of the year. Top of this list was former double champion Paul Rivett, who returned to the series halfway through the year at Croft, competing in four meetings over the remainder of the season. Six podiums in eight races, including two wins at Silverstone, underlined his class.
Also impressing in 2010 was Total Control Racing’s James Dixon. In his first ever season in the Clio’s, the 20 year old improved throughout and capped his season off with a great performance at the season finale at Brands Hatch, taking two wins on his home track in front of a bumper 42,000 crowd, the biggest of the season for the TOCA package.
2010 saw a variety of changes introduced to improve the racing in the series, including 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 securing the main championship, Newsham became the inaugural Masters Cup champion, while it was Tordoff who became the first winner of the Graduate trophy.
The final championship standings look like this:
Newsham takes the title after another positive season for the series. Despite some problems with low grid numbers, the series continued to produce exciting, close racing, continuing its status as one of the best one make series in the country. With Newsham and Tordoff looking to make the step up to the BTCC full time in 2011, the series has also continued its impressive record of producing top line tin-top drivers, maintaining its status as the premier feeder series for the BTCC.
To cap off the review, here’s TCF’s choice of the Top 5 Drivers of the Season:
- Dave Newsham – No-one else could have topped this list, Newsham was unbeatable in the series this year. A simply remarkable season from the Scotsman!
- Lee Pattison – Pattison must have become disillusioned at points this season, spending race after race following Newsham’s bumper, but he kept battling to secure a well-earned second in the championship.
- James Colburn – After a solid season in 2009, Colburn made a real step up this year, becoming a regular frontrunner. Took four podium finishes and could be a championship challenger if he sticks around next year.
- Sam Tordoff – A superb run of 10 podiums in the first 12 races showed promise, but wasn’t able to sustain it and take second in the championship. Still a strong season from the youngster.
- James Dixon – Took time to acclimatise in his debut season, but a double podium at Snetterton began a great end to the season, with the double win at Brands the perfect way to end the year.