Martin Byford enjoyed a return to the Renault UK Clio Cup podium during the final rounds of the 2013 season at Brands Hatch.
The 2007 Clio Cup champion made an eleventh-hour return to the series in place of fellow former champion Paul Rivett, who was forced to miss the meeting after suffering a nasty leg injury in the run-up to the event.
With it being his first competitive outing in the car for six years, and with no prior experience of the Dunlop tyres used this season, Byford was unable to mix it with the series front-runners – however the 41 year old did end the weekend on the podium with an unexpected Masters Cup class win.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the silverware, they were waving me into the parc ferme area and I thought they’d got the wrong car. It was a nice surprise,” Byford told TCF.
“It’s been a real challenge, but I’ve enjoyed it. It’s difficult when you come back without being fully prepared, but it was nice to have a go and deliver some silverware for the boys at the end of it.”
Byford’s superb run from 24th to 13th overall and the Masters win in race two came after a turbulent Saturday in the Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering Clio.
Qualifying had ended early following an unfortunate accident in the tricky conditions, and race one only lasted two laps before he was hit into retirement at Hawthorns.
“It’s been a mixed bag of a weekend,” he commented. “It’s been very difficult as I’ve just had no time in the car prior to the weekend, and even the Friday testing time was in mixed conditions.
“Qualifying was my fault, I was pushing too hard on a damp track and I got it wrong. That put us very much on the back foot for the weekend, starting at the back of the grids.”
Despite enjoying his return, which saw him become the only driver to compete in the first and last races of the third-generation Clio’s spell in the UK series, Byford has ruled out a full-time return to the championship next year.
“I’m concentrating on endurance and GT racing at the moment,” he explained. “I really enjoy the bigger team game, the strategy and the long stints that come with the GT’s, I really thrive on that and it’s all RWD stuff which is more my cup of tea.”