Luke Herbert and Luke Pinder strengthened their advantages in the Michelin Clio Cup Series with double victories in the penultimate meeting of the season at Oulton Park.
The one-day event provided a unique challenge for the Clio Series field, but there was no troubles for Race Series leader Herbert and Road Series pace-setter Pinder as they moved closer to securing their class titles.
Herbert got his weekend off to a perfect start with a fautless performance in qualifying, with a best time of 1m 36.243s in the twenty minute giving him the first of two pole positions by 0.116s over his Westbourne Motorsport team-mate Sam Randon.
Randon almost got the jump over the pole-sitter at the start of the opening twelve lap encounter, but Herbert just fended him off heading into Old Hall for the first time, with Brett Lidsey and Paul Streather retaining grid order behind.
The top four stayed in formation until lap seven when Lidsey was shuffled back to fifth behind Streather and the flying Andy Jordan, who had climbed through from the back of the grid to the top five in just two laps.
With clean air ahead of him, Streather reeled-in Randon for second and took the place on lap nine, before benefitting from a loose undertray for the leader to close right in at the front, however Herbert held him off for the win.
Randon fended off Jordan and Lidsey to complete the podium, his fifth of the season, while Matt Allison benefitted from early contact which eliminated Tom Barley and James Dorlin to complete the top six.
Reigning Road Series champion Anton Spires was close behind in seventh on his Race Series debut with Paint Perfect Motorsport, with Adam Hatfield rounding out the class finisher in eighth.
Herbert saw off the attentions of fellow front-runner starter Lidsey at the start of race two to lead the field through Old Hall, with Streather passing Randon behind for third. Behind meanwhile, Jordan was exceeding his heroics from the opener by climbing from tenth to fifth in the first lap alone.
Herbert got the early jump as Lidsey came under pressure from Streather, meaning even when second place changed hands, Streather was unable to close in to less than 1.4 seconds of the leader, with Herbert setting the fastest lap of the race en-route to his sixth win of the season so far.
Behind Streather, the race’s main action came in a multi-car battle for third. Lidsey was the holder early on until a spin at Cascades on lap six whilst under pressure from Jordan, who’s race ended two laps later with a driveshaft failure.
Randon inherited third therefore, with Spires, Dorlin and Allison in hot pursuit. On the penultimate lap, Randon lost time passing backmarkers at Cascades and was shuffled back to sixth, with Spires looking set to take a podium on his Race Series debut until the last tour.
Dorlin squeezed through at the hairpin to seal the final place, with Spires settling for fourth ahead of former BTCC racer Allison, Randon and Hatfield. Lidsey recovered to eighth, with Barley left in ninth after a spin of his own.
Herbert’s double win means he now holds a 25 point advantage in the championship over Streather heading into the final rounds of the season at Silverstone on September 19/20, with Lidsey, Randon and Jordan split by ten points in the battle for third.
It wasn’t Pinder, but in fact his Jade Developments team-mate Jake Honour, who got the upper hand in qualifying with a double pole position – however that advantage proved to be short-lived in the opening race.
Getting the lead off the line, Pinder then had to work hard to keep his team-mate at bay after finding himself battling a power steering issue from lap two onwards. He managed to drive around the issue though and took a 1.2 second victory.
Pinder set the fastest lap of the race en-route to second in class, five seconds clear of Tyler Lidsey who completed the podium. Jonathan Creasey was fourth, a long way clear of Nic Harrison who battled locking brakes throughout, while Sarah Franklin saw her race end with a power loss on lap one.
As in race one, Pinder got into the lead at the start and with no mechanical problems to counter this time around, he pulled clear to take a near seven second victory that extends his points lead to 45 points with two races remaining.
Lidsey held off Honour for his sixth podium finish of the year, while Franklin bounced back from her race one disappointment to secure fourth. A gearbox problem in his Clio meant Creasey could only manage fifth, while Harrison was sixth after early contact led to a trip through the pitlane.
Full race results can be found here.