Michelin Clio Cup Series championship leader Mike Robinson increased his gap at the top of the standings to nineteen points with his third victory of the season in Round Five at Donington Park.
The Total Control Racing driver got his weekend off to the perfect start with his third pole position on the bounce and went on to lead the race from lights-to-flag, though it wasn’t plain-sailing as category rookie Brett Smith pushed him all the way to the finish.
Former Mazda MX-5 racer Smith put his Team Pyro machine second on the grid, and a great launch off the line put him straight onto Robinson’s rear bumper. The 22 year old was a constant thorn in the leader’s side, but Robinson fended him off throughout the twelve lap encounter to take victory by 0.178 seconds.
“I didn’t expect Brett [Smith] to be that close considering he hadn’t raced a Clio before, he was all over me,” said Robinson. “Every time I looked in my mirrors he was there, he had his lights on, he was trying everything! I felt like I had it under control for most of the race, it was just when we came up to lap backmarkers. It’s very nice to extend the points lead.”
“I came into this with no track time really, the test on Thursday was absolutely wet, so I was really happy to be second on the grid – I was aiming for the top six,” added Smith. “On the last lap I had a really good chance at Coppice, Mike [Robinson] held the middle of the road so I tried to cut to the inside but he just managed to shut the door.”
The front two were able to pull well clear of the chasing pack early on due to a lap three incident down the Craner Curves, which saw Andy Jordan fired off into the barriers and out of the race. The TCR team are now in a race against time to get him on the grid for Round Six, which he’s starting from pole position.
Benefitting from the incident to move into third was Brett Lidsey. On his first racing appearance at Donington, the 20Ten Racing ace held off some late pressure from Luke Herbert to take his first podium of the season.
Herbert had qualified seventh and was elbowed down to eighth initially, but some fantastic pace saw him storm through to fourth and finish just 0.192 seconds off Lidsey at the chequered flag.
Former BTCC racer Jeff Smith was caught up in the early incident with Jordan, but bounced back well to take a fifth place finish and the fastest lap of the race with it. Tommy Ostgaard rounded out the top six for SV Racing meanwhile, after a great drive from tenth on the grid.
Championship contender David Dickenson had a tough race, with a robust opening lap forcing him to salvage a seventh place finish ahead of Pyro team-mate Ollie Pidgley. Privateer Paul Streather and SV’s Sam Randon completed the top ten.
In the ‘Roadcar’ class, Anton Spires continued his tremendous momentum with his third consecutive victory. Privateer Luke Pinder took a superb class pole position, and on his first appearance at Donington, the former rally driver held the lead until mid-distance.
Spires finally found his way past into Coppice on lap six, and went on to take the win and fastest lap, while Pinder looked set for second place until a car problem on the final lap robbed him of a richly deserved podium finish.
Jake Honour and Sarah Franklin were promoted onto the podium therefore ahead of Jonathan Creasey and Nic Harrison, with Pinder unfortunately unable to make the chequered flag.
“I concentrated on the start first of all, I fell back too many places at Oulton so I really wanted to get that right today and it was a bit better,” said Spires. “Going into Redgate I got a little bit of a tap, but still managed to come out in second, and from then on I was just trying to keep up with Luke – he had really good race pace. It was a really good race between us, I’m gutted for him he didn’t finish.”