Paul Rivett has ignited his 2016 Renault UK Clio Cup championship challenge with a first win of the season during an action-packed opening race at Croft, while Max Coates produced a star performance on home tarmac to take a seasons best second.
After seeing his win at Donington Park back in April returned to Ant Whorton-Eales earlier in the day, Rivett put a definitive notch on his 2016 win tally with a dominant performance in North Yorkshire – his first win at Croft since 2008.
From pole position, the three-time champion was able to maintain his advantage into Clervaux for the first time, and that would prove to be key as a chaotic first few corners shuffled the pack behind and gave the leader an early gap.
Commotion at the first corner towards the back of the field had left Dan Zelos stranded in the Clervaux gravel trap, continuing his horrid run of luck in the series, while further ahead second-row starter Lee Pattison was shoved out into the infield at the chicane.
Once all was resolved, it was Coates who emerged in third from seventh on the grid behind Rivett and Mike Bushell, with Charlie Ladell, Daniel Rowbottom and Ant Whorton-Eales in hot pursuit as front-row starter David Dickenson dropped down to eleventh place.
As Rivett built up a lead of two seconds within five laps, Bushell found himself under immense pressure from Coates in the battle for second, with the Ciceley Motorsport ace eager to add to his maiden series podium last time out at Oulton Park.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at getting ahead through the final hairpin, Coates’ tenacity was rewarded on lap nine as a great run out of Tower got him the position as they stormed through the Esses into Barcroft.
The new driver in Bushell’s mirrors was his chief title rival Ant Whorton-Eales, who had picked his way past Rowbottom at Tower on lap five before an off for Ladell three laps later gave him fourth position – though he would run out of laps before he could mount a serious challenge for third.
That meant the podium was Rivett, Coates and Bushell, with the winning advantage eventually being three and a half seconds as Rivett cruised to the line, with Coates able to keep Bushell at arms length for his second podium in three races.
Rowbottom rounded out the top five for his best result of the season, with Paul Streather taking his fifth top six result of the season so far behind after emerging from a fraught battle over the final few laps.
That battle claimed Josh Price in the latter stages of the race, the Team Pyro man firing off into the infield at the chicane in similar fashion to Pattison before him, while Rory Collingbourne was sent all across the grass out of the hairpin on the final lap.
Senna Proctor emerged in seventh ahead of his Pyro stablemate Dickenson, with George Jackson leading a trio of Team Cooksport Clios as Collingbourne and Pattison recovered from their off-track moments to take tenth and eleventh – the latter having set the fastest lap of the race.
Full race results can be found here.