The Michelin Clio Cup Series returns to the race track this weekend at Oulton Park for the opening rounds of the 2016 season, with a strong entry assembling for the third running of the tin-top championship.
It proved to be a quiet winter for the series as the organisation of the championship changed hands, but now with the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) overseeing things, the series is set for an all-action seven weekend calendar.
The championship has proved to be a stepping stone for drivers into touring car and GT racing, with 2014 champion Mike Robinson moving straight into British GT, while a number of drivers, including former Road victor Anton Spires and 2015 Race vice-champion Paul Streather, have stepped into the Renault UK Clio Cup.
Heading this year’s entry as they try to follow in their footsteps are a number of returning talents from 2015, with the most experienced of those being third year protagonist Brett Lidsey, who is joined by his brother Tyler Lidsey at new team MRM Motorsport.
Brett picked up five podium finishes last season en-route to a top five overall championship finish, while Tyler steps up to the Race Series for the first time after being a race-winner and top three points finisher in the Road class last year.
Joining them at MRM is former BTCC and VW Cup driver Tom Barley, who returns with headline backing from IG after taking four top six finishes last season en-route to a top ten championship finish.
Westboourne Motorsport won the title last season with Luke Herbert and their 2016 entry is led by Sam Randon. The 21 year old looks set to be the highest placed returning driver from last year, after finishing fourth in the final standings with five top three race finishes.
Joining him at the Sussex-based outfit is the last two Junior Saloon Car champions, with 2014 victor James Dorlin entering his second Clio Series season after taking four podiums last year, while reigning champion Ben Colburn makes his championship debut.
Former MG Owners Club ZR class champion Ben Palmer enters the series after making a Renault UK Clio Cup debut in last year’s season finale, while Dan Kirby moves across from the BMW Compact Cup Championship with the Jade Developments squad.
Joining Kirby at the Leicestershire-based outfit will be reigning Road Series champion Luke Pinder. The former rally driver makes the step up in Luke Herbert’s title-winning Clio, having enjoyed a dominant 2015 that featured nine class victories
Jade Developments will also be returning to defend the Road Series title with teenager Jack Fabby, who became the youngest driver in series history when he made his debut in last year’s Silverstone finale.
Tough competition will come from last season’s Road Series vice-champion Nic Harrison, a seven-time podium finisher last season, as well as series regular Sarah Franklin, who’s back with Westbourne after visiting the rostrum twice in 2015.
2016 Michelin Clio Cup Series Calendar:
March 19 – Oulton Park
April 23/24 – Pembrey
May 28/29 – Rockingham
June 25/26 – Brands Hatch
July 23/24 – Croft
September 3/4 – Anglesey
October 8/9 – Silverstone International