2014 marked the first full season of the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre following an eight race trial in 2013, and with a full twelve race calendar there were high hopes for the club-level tin-top championship.
The series put to use the third-generation Clio Cup race cars no longer used in the BTCC-supporting Renault UK Clio Cup in the ‘Racecar’ class, whilst the ‘Roadcar’ class featured converted Renault Clio Renaultsport 197’s.
The two classes combined on one grid for the majority of meetings, though on a couple of occasions there were standalone races for each class as the championship travelled across the country to the likes of Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Donington Park and Croft.
Robinson Leads The Way With TCR
The headline ‘Racecar’ class attracted a number of experienced racers, including former Clio Cup competitors Mike Robinson and David Dickenson, and returning 2013 Clio Series entrants Luke Herbert, Ollie Pidgley and Sam Randon.
From a grid that sat between twelve and sixteen cars all season, it was Total Control Racing’s Robinson that emerged on top, the former Ginetta Challenge and Britcar racer setting the pace throughout the year.
After trading the victories with Dickenson on the first two weekends, Robinson then asserted his dominance with a run of six wins in the remaining eight races. Failing to finish on the podium just twice, Robinson also took a superb nine pole positions en-route to a near 50 point championship win.
For ex-Clio Cup UK, Italia, Bohemia and Eurocup campaigner Dickenson, the two early victories were the foundation for a comfortable run to second in the standings. While he couldn’t match Robinson’s pace as the season developed, the Irishman added five more podium finishes including a third victory in the season closer at Croft.
While Herbert was unable to match his race-winning exploits from 2013, having won five of the six races he competed in, it proved to be another great campaign for the Westbourne Motorsport ace. A regular fixture at the front of the grid, four rostrum visits and a quartet of fourth place finishes took him to third in the points.
An impressive fourth was Paul Streather, the privateer battling well against the established Clio teams. Good consistency saw him take eight top six finishes in twelve races, the highlights being three podium finishes including a best of second with fastest lap at Brands Hatch.
Rounding out the top five despite missing the first four races of the year was Brett Smith, who impressed with a race-winning debut at Donington Park and five consecutive podium finishes to close the season. He joined his dad Jeff Smith on the grid with Team Pyro, a mixed part-time Clio return for the former BTCC racer leading to three fourth place finishes and the same number of retirements.
The remainder of the championship top eight was filled with a trio of series returnees. Pidgley headed them, regular top six finishes taking him to sixth and the ‘Sport’ class trophy. Randon was next thanks to podium finishes at Rockingham and Croft, with Lidsey eighth with a top three at Donington to his name.
Andy Jordan and Tommy Ostgaard were the only other two drivers on the grid to take a podium, scoring one apiece at Oulton Park, though Tom Butler and Pete Bennett weren’t far off having both finished in the top six multiple times.
Alongside the series regulars, the class also saw a number of one-off appearances. Renault UK Clio Cup front-runner Ant Whorton-Eales appeared at Snetterton and took a best of fourth, with Ben Davis picking up a fifth at the same meeting, while Adam Hatfield and Tom Barley both slotted into the top ten at Brands Hatch.
Final 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series Standings:
- Mike Robinson – Total Control Racing – 332pts
- David Dickenson – Team Pyro – 284pts
- Luke Herbert – Westbourne Motorsport – 232pts
- Paul Streather – Privateer – 221pts
- Brett Smith – Team Pyro – 204pts
- Ollie Pidgley – Team Pyro – 171
- Sam Randon – SV Racing – 155
- Brett Lidsey – 20Ten Racing – 138
- Tom Butler – 20Ten Racing – 136
- Andy Jordan – Total Control Racing – 105
Seven Of The Best For Dominant Spires
The class of the field in the often under-subscribed ‘Roadcar’ category was undoubtedly Anton Spires, the former Saxmax racer leading the way with Westbourne Motorsport on his return to tin-top racing after competing for the last few years in single-seaters.
Finishing in the top two in each of the ten races he completed, Spires notched up seven wins, including five in a row from Oulton to Brands. Those results, coupled with six pole positions and nine fastest laps, gave him the title with a weekend to spare, allowing him to sit out the Croft finale.
Jake Honour looked set for a championship challenge after taking both wins at the Rockingham opener, but after two further podium finishes a big accident at Donington derailed his charge. After sitting out Brands to repair his Clio, two more DNF’s on his return left him fifth in the standings.
The other driver to give Spires a challenge through the season was Luke Pinder. The former rally driver took wins at Brands and Croft alongside three second places, but with only one other race finish to his name he was left to settle for sixth in the points.
This meant Nic Harrison ended up as the class runner-up after a campaign that featured consistent podium finishes ended with a maiden class win in the final race, while Sarah Franklin took third thanks to a trio of podiums despite missing the Croft finale.
John Creasey finished fourth overall and took the Road ‘Sport’ class honours, his campaign finishing on a high with a pair of seconds at Croft, while the other drivers to take part during the campaign were Jessica Hawkins and Jodie Hemming with one-off outings with SWB Motorsport.
Final 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Standings:
- Anton Spires – Westbourne Motorsport – 323pts
- Nic Harrison – CGHimports.com – 249pts
- Sarah Franklin – Sarah Franklin Racing – 215pts
- John Creasey – Paint Perfect Motorsport – 179pts
- Jake Honour – Jake Honour Racing with Jade Developments – 171pts
- Luke Pinder – Privateer – 170pts
- Jessica Hawkins – SWB Motorsport – 47pts
- Jodie Hemming – SWB Motorsport – 42pts