Luke Herbert kicked off the new-for-2013 Michelin Clio Cup Series with a stunning double victory on the opening weekend at Snetterton.
The reigning Ma5da MX5 Cup champion completed a clean sweep of the weekend, picking up two pole positions, two wins and two fastest laps, though he didn’t have it all his own way in the opening race on the Norfolk circuit’s 200 layout.
Herbert led away from pole position in race one, but was quickly passed by former Clio Cup podium-finisher Rob Gaffney, with the Meridian Motorsport driver going on to lead the majority of the race after an eleventh hour entry into the series.
Herbert tried to challenge Gaffney on lap eight, but the move only resulted in him losing a position to Peter Felix, who had assumed third after a retirement for Andy Jordan due to front-end damage.
Four laps later, Herbert worked his way back into second and on the final lap, a great move into Montreal saw Herbert snatch the lead, putting himself in the history books as the first-ever Clio Cup series winner.
Gaffney, who later went on to have an early retirement in race two, took second ahead of Felix, with Brett Lidsey capping off a great Clio debut to finish fourth, rising up from seventh on the grid. Darren Wilson fought back after slipping to eighth early on to take fifth, while Graham Mulholland finished an eventful race in sixth behind his 20Ten Racing team-mate, having risen from ninth on the grid up to fourth at one stage.
Scuderia Vittoria’s James Weston claimed victory in Class 4, for racing newcomers in the Racecar class, in eighth overall, while single-seater convert Tommy Ostgaard led comfortably from the start-t-finish in the Roadcar class ahead of SWB Motorsport team-mate Sam Randon.
Race two proved to be a much easier affair for Herbert. After losing the lead to Felix off the line, Herbert regained it at the final chicane on the opening lap and never looked back, a truly dominant performance seeing him post a series of fastest laps en-route to a sixteen second victory, his fastest lap being nearly eight tenths of a second quicker than his nearest rivals.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend,” said Herbert. “It was an excellent result in the first race, pole and then the win. In race two there was a bit of a tussle at the hairpin on the first lap, luckily I didn’t get any damage, and then it was a case of putting in the lap times. I think it’s going to be a great series, I’m sure it’ll go from strength to strength throughout the year.”
Andy Jordan briefly ran in second position, however contact on lap two eliminated him, promoting Felix into the position. He held the place for almost the remainder of the race until an unexpected problem on the run to the line forced him to switch off his engine, allowing Wilson through to take second from eighth on the grid, with Felix coasting to third.
Lidsey producing another strong drive to take fourth ahead of Procom Team Racing’s David Pierce, with Mulholland once again completing the top six. Weston won Class 4 again, with Ostgaard completing a Roadcar class double.
The Michelin Clio Cup Series returns next at Croft on 6/7 July.