Stefan Hodgetts produced a fantastic drive to secure victory in an entertaining Round Ten of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup at Croft, while a hard-fought podium finish moved Josh Files into the championship lead.
In a truly epic Clio Cup encounter, Hodgetts emerged from a fantastic five-car fight to take the victory, continuing a fantastic run of form in the series with his third win in the last five races.
Round 9 winner Files started the race from pole position and despite a good start, the Team Pyro ace found himself side-by-side with a quick-starting Hodgetts on the run to Clervaux. Some robust driving from Hodgetts saw Files edged onto the grass, dropping him to third behind Hodgetts and James Colburn.
Squeezing 22 Clio’s through the tight Clervaux chicane proved to be an impossible task, with Josh Cook getting spun around onto the grass, causing a melee that claimed erstwhile championship leader Paul Rivett, the series veteran picking up a puncture that forced him to pit at the end of the lap.
The five-car battle for the lead quickly emerged, with the top three joined by Scuderia Vittoria team-mates Ant Whorton-Eales and Mike Bushell, the latter having enjoyed a great opening few laps to come through from eleventh on the grid.
The first change of positions came on lap six, when a great run out of Tower allowed Files to make a fantastic move around the outside of Colburn at the Esses to take second. He challenged for the lead later in the lap at the hairpin, trying to force his way through down the inside, however equally robust defending from Hodgetts maintained him the lead.
More contact between the two at Sunny In on the next lap sent Hodgetts sideways, but once again the KX Akademy member held onto the lead. A lap later Files found himself on the receiving end of a tag, with a touch from Colburn at Tower sending him sideways, dropping him to fourth.
Heading into the penultimate lap, Colburn was once again challenging Hodgetts. He made an attempt for the lead around the outside at Tower, however the Westbourne Motorsport driver ran wide, allowing Whorton-Eales to nip through and take second.
The fight went down to the last corner on the final lap, with Whorton-Eales making a challenge for the win at the hairpin. Hodgetts fended him off though, going on to cross the line for victory and his fifth consecutive podium finish. The result clearly delighted him, with him jumping out of his Clio after the flag and throwing his gloves into the crowd in celebration.
Whorton-Eales took his career-best Clio finish and first podium of the season in second, completing a Scuderia Vittoria and KX Akademy one-two. The bunching up on the final corner meanwhile allowed Files to snatch third from Colburn at a dead-heat at the flag.
Bushell crossed the line fifth, his best result since joining the Scuderia Vittoria team, while completing the top six after a lonely race was Lee Pattison. The JHR Developments racer gained the place after an early off for Jordan Stilp and ran there throughout as he secured his second Masters Cup win of the weekend.
A trio of Team Pyro cars were next up, with Ash Hand leading home Alex Morgan and James Nutbrown, the latter scything his way through the field from twentieth on the grid. Jake Giddings rounded out the top ten, while taking eleventh was a frustrated Cook.
After recovering from his first lap spin in ninth, the JHR Developments driver came to blows at the Complex with Josh Wakefield on lap two, with both drivers exiting the track. While Cook could re-join the action to fight back to eleventh from fifteenth, Wakefield was forced into retirement after hitting the tyre barrier.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2013/132503cli.pdf
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Championship Standings (After Rd.10):
1. Josh Files – 235pts
2. Paul Rivett – 232pts
3. Alex Morgan – 213pts
4= Stefan Hodgetts – 187pts
4= James Colburn – 187pts
6. Lee Pattison – 168pts
7. Josh Cook – 167pts
8. Mike Bushell – 136pts
9. Jake Giddings – 135pts
10. Ant Whorton-Eales – 123pts