The incredible 2011 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup heads to Rockingham in Northamptonshire this weekend for the latest chapter in its mammoth championship battle, which sees the top four drivers separated by just seventeen points with four races remaining.
Double Clio Cup Champion Paul Rivett leads the way for Lumison BlueSquare Data/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering. Despite a quiet weekend last time out at Snetterton, Rivett was still able to extend his championship lead to eight points over Aron Smith, and will be hoping to extend it further at Rockingham as he aims to make it a hat trick of Clio crowns.
Rivett said: “I always love Rockingham as I do with all of the circuits. The infield section is absolutely brilliant and there is a great combination of corners. We're going to do our best now to set the pace for the rest of the year and were going to be on that front row and stay out of trouble, I'm very feeling very confident thinking about the title.”
Team Pyro's Smith and third place contender James Dixon will both be looking to close the gap and add to their three and four race wins in 2011 respectively. Both took wins at Snetterton, but failed to finish the other race respectively, allowing Rivett to break clear.
Smith, who made his BTCC debut at Knockhill two weeks ago, said: “I'm very pleased to be in the title hunt. Heading to Rockingham I would really like to leave the weekend with a few wins under my belt. I have raced there previously in the Winter Series a few years back and got a brace of second place finishes. I think with the track knowledge that I have of the circuit, I am very capable of achieving good things this weekend.”
Dixon, who trails Rivett by fifteen points, commented: “I'm looking forward to going back to Rockingham as we were quick there earlier on in the year. I'm feeling very confident but would really like to take away a good couple of wins from there to boost my hopes of winning the championship at the last round at Brands Hatch.”
Sitting fourth but still in with a great shout of taking the title is James Colburn, the second year Clio Cup driver lying seventeen points adrift. The Westbourne Motorsport driver will be desperate to take victory at Rockingham, as he seeks his maiden Clio Cup victory.
Colburn said: “Rockingham has some good memories for me as I gained my first ever Clio Cup podium there last year. I think that we are going to be very strong there this weekend. It's going to be quite tight at the sharp end as all of the title contenders have raced here in a Clio Cup car previously.”
Two drivers also heading to Rockingham in good spirits is Nicolas Hamilton, who is hoping for a strong performance at Rockingham, the scene of his first appearance in a Clio Cup car back at the series Media Day, and Mark Gibbons, who won Rockingham's tenth anniversary competition to put a fan on the grid, with Gibbons beating off nine other finalists to win the prize and join Stancombe Vehicle Engineering for the weekend.