Anton Spires produced a perfect day in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series at Oulton Park yesterday (17th May), delivering two pole positions, two race wins and two fastest laps to move to the top of the championship standings.
For the first time since the Michelin Clio Cup Series was introduced at the start of 2013, the ‘Roadcar’ class runners ran in separate races to their ‘Racecar’ counterparts, with a seven car field of converted Clio Renaultsport 197 cars forming for the day’s action.
Spires was unable to capitalise on his grid-topping start in race one, with a sluggish getaway seeing him slip back to third on the opening lap. Privateer Luke Pinder went on to lead the first five laps in only his third ever circuit race.
Spires dispatched Nic Harrison for second on lap three, and set a series of fastest laps to reel in Pinder before passing for the lead on lap six. From then, it was a comfortable drive to a 4.2 second victory.
Pinder slipped into Harrison’s clutches at mid-distance, but fended him off for his first podium finish in second, with Harrison completing the rostrum. Erstwhile points leader Jake Honour battled gearbox problems throughout meanwhile, battling to a fourth place finish.
In Round Four, another slow start for Spires saw him slip to third once again, with Harrison taking the early lead. Three laps in though he lost his advantage, with Pinder grabbing the lead at Cascades, Harrison slipping to fourth in the process – before a drive-through penalty for a false start dropped him further down the order.
Pinder held off Spires for another couple of laps before the Westbourne Motorsport driver sliced past, going on to take his second victory by a 4.2 second margin once again. Honour, despite his ongoing gearbox problems, took third.
With Harrison seventh at the finish, series debutant Jodie Hemming took fourth at the flag ahead of fellow newcomer Jonathan Creasey and Sarah Franklin, with those three having taken fifth, seventh and sixth in the first race respectively.
“It’s been a perfect weekend,” said double winner Spires. “Two poles, two fastest laps and two race wins – it was just the starts. I got back into first though each time and just tried to manage the gap, look after the tyres and then get to the chequered flag first. I want to thank everyone at Westbourne, it’s an amazing team and the car set-up has been perfect.”
Rounds five and six of the Michelin Clio Cup Series take place at Donington Park in two weeks’ time, with the two classes to return to their combined grid format for the third meeting of the season.
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Points (After Oulton Park):
1. Anton Spires – 126pts
2. Jake Honour – 113pts
3. Nic Harrison – 91pts
4= Sarah Franklin – 78pts
4= Luke Pinder – 78pts
6. Jodie Hemming – 42pts
7. Jonathan Creasey – 36pts