Palmer And Spires Take Opening 2017 Clio Cup Series Victories

by Simon Paice

Ben Palmer and Anton Spires have established themselves as the early pace-setters in the Michelin Clio Cup Series after sharing the victories in the season opener at Silverstone.

2014 Road Series champion Spires dominated proceedings on Saturday on his return to the championship, taking a pair of pole positions in his Westbourne Motorsport Clio.

A slow launch off the line gave the advantage to Palmer in the opening race though, with the privateer going on to lead the majority of the race as Spires put the pressure on behind.

Spires’ opportunity came on the penultimate lap as he slipped past into Becketts, but a superb switchback move into Luffield gave Palmer his first Clio Cup Series victory.

Frustrated to miss out on the first win, Spires made no mistakes in race two as he led from lights-to-flag, setting the fastest lap of the race as he pulled a gap of over four seconds to Palmer.

While those two battled it out front, there were three different drivers who battled it out for the final podium position across the two races around the National circuit.

In the opener, Jon Billingsley assumed the position on the opening lap in his Vanquish Motorsport machine, but a grassy spin at Brooklands later in the race cost him.

That handed third position to Nick White on his Race Series debut, and the privateer nearly made it two from two, however a stellar defensive performance from Tyler Lidsey earnt him the spot.

A maiden Race Series podium made up for a frustrating opening race for Lidsey, with first lap contact with Ben Colburn ruling them both out instantly with broken wheels.

Colburn, who had qualified third for both races, would suffer more disappointment in race two when an opening lap spin would lead him to finish seventh at the chequered flag.

Billingsley would go on to add a fifth place finish to his earlier fourth position, while Sarah Franklin picked up fifth and sixth place results on her Race Series bow.

In the Road Series meanwhile, series stalwart Nic Harrison and Westbourne Motorsport team boss Richard Colburn would be the drivers to beat across the weekend.

Harrison edged out Colburn to the class pole position by nine hundredths of a second, but a mistake under braking in the first race would cost him the opening win of the season.

Colburn took the victory on his championship debut – the first racing win of his career – while late drama for Harrison dropped him back to fifth.

The 2016 Road Series vice-champion would hit back in style in race two however, leading the class from lights-to-flag for his eighth career victory in the championship.

Colburn followed him home in second, while completing a podium double of her own for the weekend behind was Shanel Drewe, the JSCC graduate having taken second in race one.

Osteopath-turned-racer Chris Williams took the final podium position in the opener, before enjoying a thrilling race-long battle with fellow series debutant James Joannou in race two.

The championship now heads into a five week break before the next two rounds at Croft in North Yorkshire on April 29/30.

Full race results from across the weekend can be found on the TSL Timing website here:

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