Brett Smith completed a stunning debut weekend in the Michelin Clio Cup Series with a hard-fought victory in Round Six at Donington Park.
The 22 year old, son of former BTCC racer and fellow Clio Series competitor Jeff Smith, overcame two safety car periods and the close attentions of championship leader Mike Robinson to take the win, following up a second place finish in the weekend’s opening encounter.
Robinson’s Total Control Racing team-mate Andy Jordan was meant to start the race from pole position, however with extensive damage from an incident in the first race unable to be repaired in time, he wasn’t able to take to the grid.
This meant Robinson started out front ahead of Smith and David Dickenson. While the front of the field got through the opening bend cleanly, a spin down the order for Andy Wilkins ended in contact from ‘Roadcar’entrants Sarah Franklin, Jake Honour and Jonathan Creasey.
While Franklin was able to continue, the other three drivers were forced into retirement, with the safety car required to aid the recovery of their stricken Clio’s.
Before the safety car had entered the circuit though, there was a change for the lead as Smith, who was driving the Team Pyro car that Josh Files took to the 2013 UK Clio Cup title, slipped past Robinson at McLeans for the lead.
At the restart, Smith made a perfect getaway to lead away from Robinson, Dickenson, Luke Herbert and Paul Streather, with the top five running closely over the next few laps.
The first driver to make a challenge to gain a place was Herbert, however an attempted pass on Dickenson at Redgate on lap nine ended with both drivers running wide, allowing Streather to move ahead of both.
Just as Smith was edging away out front, the safety car appeared again at the end of lap eleven after a coming together between Brett Lidsey and Ollie Pidgley at the final chicane left the former’s car beached in the gravel.
Racing resumed on lap fourteen for a one-lap sprint to the flag, with Smith holding his nerve to take the chequered flag by half a second from Robinson, second place for the latter extending his championship lead to 25 points.
“It’s fantastic to get the win,” said an elated Smith. “To be on the podium in the first race yesterday and then be on the top step today is more than I hoped for at the start of the weekend. The Safety Cars we had played to my advantage really, I made good re-starts and it all went well.”
“The start was fine but the first couple of laps the car felt looser than it did yesterday – we’d made a change. Brett [Smith] made a move at McLeans, he had the inside line and I then tucked in behind him,” added Robinson. “I don’t want to say too much too soon, but it’s nice to go into the eight week break with a nice lead in the championship.”
Streather finished up just 0.2 seconds shy of Robinson in third, his second podium finish of the season, with Dickenson claimed fourth just ahead of Herbert. SV Racing duo Sam Randon and Tommy Ostgaard were next up, with Tom Butler and the recovering Pidgley eighth and ninth respectively. Jeff Smith was another driver to retire on the opening lap meanwhile.
In the ‘Roadcar’ class, the opening lap drama meant it proved to be a comfortable class win for Anton Spires. After missing the first corner dramas, the Westbourne Motorsport ace eased to his fourth consecutive victory by over eleven seconds. Nic Harrison took second meanwhile, with a recovering Franklin third.
“This win was a little bit easier,” said Spires. “I turned the first corner, luckily escaped any damage, and when I looked in my rear-view mirror there were no cars behind me. I managed to maintain a pace I was happy with, I looked after the gearbox and came through with another win. I’m very happy.”
Rounds Seven and Eight of the 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Series take place in eight weeks’ time at Brands Hatch, over the weekend of 26/27 July.