Josh Files has moved within touching distance of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup title after a hard-fought pair of podiums on the penultimate weekend at Rockingham.
Files, who headed into the meeting with thirteen points separating him and chief title rival Paul Rivett in the standings, started his weekend positively in a tough qualifying session, coping well on an ever-drying track surface to put himself on the third row for each race, ahead of Rivett.
The start of the opening race was frantic, but Files emerged from the melee in fourth place. After a brief safety car period, Files gained third from a wayward Ignas Gelzinis, but was forced to defend his position against a hard-charging Devon Modell.
The 22 year old proceeded to set the fastest lap of the race and gap the chasing pack though, maintain third place to the flag while Rivett watched from the sidelines after an early retirement.
“It couldn’t have worked out better to get points for a podium finish and the fastest lap when my main championship rival (Paul Rivett) failed to finish,” said a buoyant Files. “The start was quite physical – I smacked my wheels against the kerb at Yentwood corner while avoiding a slow-moving car on lap one and then had a vibration to deal with throughout the race – the wheel is completely destroyed so it’s a miracle that I made it to the end.
“After the restart, once I had dealt with Ignas Gelzinis and Devon Modell, I was fortunate to have some clean air to those behind me, as it meant I could just back off and nurse the car home.”
At the start of race two, the Bacs Payment Scheme Ltd-backed driver slipped a place to seventh early on during the initial first-corner chaos at the Deene hairpin.
The BRDC Rising Star was quickly on the rise however, taking advantage of numerous incidents to climb back up into the top three. Lapping considerably faster than those ahead of him, Files quickly dispatched team-mate Ash Hand for second place and began closing down the leader Ant Whorton-Eales.
Reducing the gap by approximately seven tenths of a second per lap, Files was soon on right on his bumper, but with the championship on his mind, Files opted not to risk a move for the win, settling for his tenth podium of the season in second.
“There were cars going off everywhere and people were hitting each other, as usual, but I just kept out of their way and found myself in the podium places,” added Files. “The rest of the race was great – really clean and controlled – and I had good pace. It has been a perfect weekend. I took the decision to settle for second. I could have gone for Ant (Whorton-Eales) but I thought I might be able to pressure him into a mistake, but he drove a great race.”
Files now heads into the final rounds of the season in four weeks at Brands Hatch with a healthy 50 point championship lead.