In a closely fought 2012 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK season, second year racer Jack Goff overcame the experienced former triple champion Paul Rivett to win the coveted championship title.
Goff and Rivett were the standout drivers in a quality-packed, bumper grid, with them joined by second year drivers Adam Bonham and Josh Files, and the experienced Stefan Hodgetts, James Dixon and James Colburn, on a grid that peaked at 25 cars during the campaign.
Goff started the season in solid form, a win apiece on the first two weekends at Brands Hatch and Donington Park giving him the early advantage. Whilst those did prove to be his only wins in the first half of the campaign, the Pyro man finished all the first eight races in the top five, giving him the championship lead at the halfway stage over Rivett, who had also picked up two wins but also suffered two retirements.
Rivett hit the ground running as the second half of the season kicked into gear though, with four consecutive wins at Snetterton and Rockingham closing him onto Goff’s tail. The duo came to blows in the penultimate weekend at Silverstone, with neither picking up the results they desired.
Goff took a three point advantage into the final meeting and an untimely retirement for Rivett in the opening race ensured a top six finish in the last race of the year for Goff gave him the coveted title, with Rivett finishing nineteen points adrift
The championship battle proved to be a two-horse race throughout the season, with no driver able to string together a real challenge. A consistent campaign for Dixon meant the series regular ended up as the best of the rest in third, having run initially with Scuderia Vittoria before returning to former team Total Control Racing for the final five meetings.
Dixon picked up no podiums in a frustrating first half of the campaign, but came into his own in the second half. While he didn’t show any race-winning pace, the 22 year old was able to pick up five podiums in the final eight races to cement third in the standings, ending up with a top seven finish in every race of the season.
Alongside eventual champion Goff, the Team Pyro stable was also home to two more front-running drivers, Bonham and Files. Both were regular podium finishes during the campaign, Bonham securing five and Files four, with their efforts giving them both top six championship finishes and helping Pyro secure the Entrants championship.
Splitting them in the final standings was the stand-out rookie of 2012, Josh Cook. Running with 20Ten Racing, the 21 year old picked up four podiums finishes, including a stunning double win at Silverstone, to take fifth in the championship standings and the Rookie Cup honours.
At the other end of the spectrum, the experienced Hodgetts continued to showcase his natural pace. Joining the series just before the halfway stage, Hodgetts worked his way up to seventh in the points with a stunning seven podium finishes in ten races, including double winning weekends at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch.
One driver to have a frustrating campaign was Westbourne Motorsport’s Colburn. Unable to capitalise on his strong 2011 campaign, when he was in title contention throughout, Colburn’s only podium joy came with a double win at Thruxton, the 20 year old ending a frustrated ninth in the standings.
Completing the top ten were rookies Ant Whorton-Eales and Ignas Gelzinis, in eighth and tenth respectively, while in thirteenth overall, winning the Masters Cup, was Handy Motorsport with Pyro‘s Simon Belcher.
TCF’s Top Five Drivers Of 2012:
- Paul Rivett – While he may have missed out on the title, Rivett was the stand-out driver in 2012. Six race wins, comfortably more than any other driver, proves he was a class above and were it not for some unfortunate mechanical problems, he’d have been champion.
- Jack Goff – Goff emerged as champion thanks to an incredibly consistent campaign, in which he finished outside the top six just once. While you can’t help but be impressed by that run, his tally of just two race wins means Rivett just pips him in this list.
- Stefan Hodgetts – Returning to the series for the first time since 2010, Hodgetts continued his love affair with the series by scoring a double win on his comeback weekend, before adding two more successes at the final meeting. If he’d have completed the whole season, we could have had a different champion.
- Josh Cook – Cook produced an almost perfect rookie season, starting in the top ten before becoming a regular top six finisher, capping it all off with a stunning double win on the penultimate weekend, his success meaning he will enter 2013 as an early championship contender.
- James Dixon – Dixon showed superb consistency through the season to secure a strong third in the championship, but arguably with his experience in the category, he should have done more and will be left disappointed not to have picked up a race win.
Final 2012 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK Championship Standings:
- Jack Goff – 373 points
- Paul Rivett – 354 points
- James Dixon – 332 points
- Adam Bonham – 297 points
- Josh Cook – 287 points
- Josh Files – 268 points
- Stefan Hodgetts – 239 points
- Ant Whorton-Eales – 208 points
- James Colburn – 182 points
- Ignas Gelzinis – 152 points
- Mike Bushell – 146 points
- Vic Covey – 140 points
- Simon Belcher – 121 points
- Jake Giddings – 118 points
- Aaron Williamson – 99 points
- William Davison – 98 points
- Rob Smith – 98 points
- Kim Anderson – 82 points
- Finlay Crocker – 75 points
- Luke Wright – 60 points
- Nic Hamilton – 51 points
- Tautvydas Barstys – 47 points
- Darren Wilson – 46 points
- David Dickenson – 43 points
- Ronnie Klos – 40 points
- Adam Gould – 39 points
- Mark Tilbury – 21 points
- David Grady – 12 points
- Andy Wilmot – 4 points
- Graham Fields – 1 point
All photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography