Seven races into the fifteen race calendar for the 2016 Michelin Clio Cup Series and there’s one name on everybody’s lips, James Dorlin, who holds the championship lead following a phenomenal start to the campaign.
While the series has been lacking quantity within its entries in both the Race and Road classes, the quality has certainly been there – with Dorlin leading the way courtesy of five race victories, six pole positions and three fastest laps so far.
The Westbourne Motorsport set the tone with a clean sweep of poles, fastest laps and race wins on the opening weekend at Oulton Park, and after taking a sole win on the championship’s first ever visit to Pembrey, Dorlin was back to his unstoppable ways at Rockingham with two more successes.
While Dorlin has been the clear pace-setter at the head of the field so far, his points advantage at the top of the standings only lies at seventeen over Brett Lidsey, who has been keeping tabs on his adversary with an unmatched 100% podium record so far this campaign.
In fact, on each of the five occasions Dorlin has taken the chequered flag first, it’s been Lidsey who has followed him home to narrow the damage in the early stages of their title battle – with the MRM driver taking a victory of his own at Pembrey.
The Pembrey weekend featured the championship’s first ever triple-header meeting, and joining Dorlin and Lidsey on the top step of the podium was Sam Randon. That came as part of a podium hat-trick in Wales for the Westbourne racer, which places him joint-third in the standings.
He’s tying on points with reigning Road Series champion Luke Pinder, who has enjoyed a strong start to his first season in the headline class. Pinder has taken podium finishes at each meeting so far, with a best finish of second at Pembrey.
The podium positions have been split between those four drivers at present, but firmly knocking on the door are both Tom Barley and Ben Palmer, who have both carded best results of fourth so far within regular top five results.
Two drivers who will be hoping to push forwards in the second half of the campaign as they continue to acclimatise in their first season in the series are Ben Colburn and Tyler Lidsey, who both secured first top six finishes at Pembrey.
Despite featuring only three entrants so far this season, the Road Series category is still producing an intriguing title duel as Sarah Franklin, Jack Fabby and Nic Harrison battle it out in their race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 roadcars.
Franklin initially took full advantage of double DNF’s for her rivals at the Oulton opener to build a healthy early 64 point advantage at the top of the standings, but a post-race exclusion from one of those races and then a retirement of her own later in the year at Rockingham has allowed her adversaries to move ahead in the points.
Fabby secured a breakthrough double victory at Pembrey, but a sole win there and a double at Rockingham has put reigning class vice-champion Harrison into the driving seat in the standings, though it couldn’t be closer with only seven points separating the trio at present.
The 2016 Michelin Clio Cup Series has four double-header meetings remaining, with Brands Hatch (June 25/26), Croft (July 23/24) and a first ever visit to Anglesey (September 3/4) to come prior to the season finale at Silverstone (October 8/9).
Provisional 2016 Michelin Clio Cup Series ‘Race’ Standings (After Rd.7 of 15):
1. James Dorlin – 216pts
2. Brett Lidsey – 199pts
3= Luke Pinder, Sam Randon – 165pts
5. Ben Palmer – 138pts
6. Ben Colburn – 94pts
7. Tom Barley – 82pts
8.Tyler Lidsey – 80pts
9. Dan Kirby – 40pts
‘Road’ Series Standings:
1. Nic Harrison – 152pts
2. Jack Fabby – 149pts
3. Sarah Franklin – 145pts