James Colburn made a welcome return to the top spot of the Renault UK Clio Cup podium with victory in the penultimate round of the season at Brands Hatch, while fourth place was enough for Josh Files to secure him the title.
Colburn started the fifteen-lap encounter from pole position, and a serene drive from the Westbourne Motorsport ace saw him lead from lights-to-flag, successfully negotiating two safety car periods in the process.
As Colburn led the field into Paddock Hill for the first time, fellow front-row starter Alex Morgan maintained second ahead of Stefan Hodgetts, while Files found himself stuck on the outside of the pack, falling to fifth behind new team-mate Mike Bushell in the process.
Bushell aimed to gain a further place later in the lap on Hodgetts, getting alongside into Surtees. Robust defending from the Scuderia Vittoria ace saw him maintain the place, with Bushell going on to lose fourth to Files at Hawthorns.
Colburn forged a second lead to the pack behind, but the advantage was cut short as the safety car came out at the end of the second lap. The cause, as it was in qualifying, was an unfortunate off for series returnee and 2007 champion Martin Byford at Hawthorns.
At the restart, an eight car train quickly developed for the lead, however the pressure didn’t get to the leader. Colburn was able to get nearly a second ahead before the safety car came out again on lap seven, an off for his team-mate Jacques Mizzi at Paddock Hill causing it.
It proved to be third time lucky for Colburn as the race restarted again, with no more interludes giving him a clear run to the chequered flag for his first win since the season opener at Brands back in March.
“I managed to build a good lead, then the safety car came out,” said Colburn. “I got another lead, then it came out again. They were a bit of a hindrance, but we managed to get a good restart each time. It’s a great win, it’s fantastic for the team and I hope we can repeat it tomorrow.”
Morgan remained second throughout, the Pyro ace unable to mount a sustained challenge for the lead. Hodgetts secured third, despite the best efforts of Files, who pressured the Clio veteran throughout the closing stages of the race.
Fourth was more than enough to give Files the title though, who headed into the race needing to just avoid exclusion to secure the crown.
“I’m over the moon,” enthused Files. “It was a hard race, Stef [Hodgetts] was defending in front, Mike [Bushell] was keeping me honest behind, so it was tough. The car wasn’t on song due to the crash yesterday, and its Clio racing so anything can happen, but it came together, we won the championship, what more could you ask for! We’ve worked so hard for three years for this and I’m so happy.”
Bushell slipped back to eighth late on, with Josh Cook, Ash Hand and Ant Whorton-Eales benefitting to complete the top seven. Behind Bushell, Jake Giddings and Ignas Gelzinis completed the top ten.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/?loc=major&season=2013&series=BTCC&event=races&source=ed_TOCA&eventid=134103&table=134103rc1cli&tabletype=gif