Josh Files enjoyed a dream weekend in the latest rounds of the Renault UK Clio Cup at Croft, breaking his race wins duck in the Round 9, before a hard-fought podium in Round 10 secured him the championship lead.
Files, driving his newly-liveried Bacs Payment Schemes-backed Clio, was on the pace from the off in Yorkshire, storming to a double pole position in qualifying.
In the opening race, a lightning start helped Files build a comfortable buffer of around 1.5s over the competition by the end of lap three, when the race was red flagged after a big accident for a rival.
At the restart, a less hasty launch left Files vulnerable to Jordan Stilp on his outside, but the Norwich-based racer held firm on the inside to retain the lead. Despite slight contact damaging his steering, the 22 year old was able to fend off an early challenge from Stefan Hodgetts before pulling clear to seal a long overdue maiden race win in the UK Clio Cup by 4.432s.
“I made a great start the first time around and pulled away, but then the red flag came out,” said Files. “My second start wasn’t as good and Jordan Stilp had a run at me and we made contact. That bent my steering, so I was surprised to pull out such a gap over Stefan Hodgetts.
“Achieving this win is a massive monkey off my back and I want to do it more often. A bit of doubt was starting to creep in, but I never gave up because I know I’m quick and I absolutely love it here at Croft. I’m chuffed!”
Race two didn’t start quite as to plan for the Team Pyro racer though, with a fast-starting Hodgetts muscling Files off track, dropping him to third. Files pushed to regain his lead, passing James Colburn with an audacious move through the Esses for second, before challenging Hodgetts.
He was pushed back down to fourth soon after though when an over-exuberant Colburn punted him wide at Tower. The top four were nose-to-tail thereafter and on the final lap, an ever opportunist Files managed to snatch third coming out of the last corner for his sixth podium finish of the campaign.
Files’ stellar weekend at Croft has promoted him to the top of the championship standings, the 22 year old holding a three point lead into the summer break.
“It was a robust race, to say the least,” added Files. “It was difficult throughout and Stefan (Hodgetts) played hard. There were quite a few scuffles and I managed to re-take the position I lost to James (Colburn) on the first lap, but I just couldn’t get past for the lead.
“Gaps appeared but Stefan defended them. I was then tapped at Tower and fell back down to fourth, but I’m delighted to have picked up places again to finish on the podium and take the lead in the championship. It has been a great weekend; we came to take points out of Paul Rivett in the standings and we leave in the lead. Happy days!”