Ben Palmer has edged out a narrow advantage at the top of the Michelin Clio Cup Series standings after taking a double victory during the second meeting of the season at Croft last weekend.
Palmer and Anton Spires were the pace-setters during the season opener at Silverstone in March, taking a win apiece, and those two would lead the way once again during the visit to North Yorkshire.
On this occasion, Palmer was able to edge out his rival to card both race victories, this coming after the duo had once again shared the spoils in qualifying with a pole position each.
The opening race saw Palmer edge clear of Spires throughout on his way to a lghts-to-flag victory, but in race two it appeared that Spires would replicate that feat in his Westbourne Motorsport Clio.
That was until the former Road Series champion made a mistake under braking at Sunny In, which opened the door for Palmer to storm past and post his third win of the campaign.
Spires would crucially post the fastest lap in both races though, the bonus points for which means that Palmer’s points lead only stands at four points heading to Rockingham in July.
Palmer said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend for us. To have taken two race victories and pole position during qualifying yesterday was a great effort and I have to thank MRM for giving me a brilliant car to work with this weekend.”
Behind the top two, the battles for the final podium position were fierce – though one contender was removed in qualifying as an off for Nick White at Tower ruled him out of the weekend’s races.
Three drivers would eventually fight it out for the rostrum honours, with Ben Colburn, Tyler Lidsey and series debutant Simon Freeman doing battle – Colburn having emerged in the top three in qualifying.
Freeman held third briefly in race one, but a bold move from Lidsey going through Tower earnt him a second podium finish of the year, whilst Colburn had to settle for fifth after a poor start.
A replica move from Lidsey in race two got him third again, but then a bent-steering arm after striking a kerb forced him to retire, opening the door for Colburn to his maiden Race Series podium.
Freeman completed a fourth place double on an impressive series debut, whilst Jon Billingsley took seventh and fifth place finishes as Sarah Franklin notched a sixth place double.
In the Road Series meanwhile, Nic Harrison used all of his experience to turn a pair of pole positions into a double victory, which means he takes the class championship lead away from Richard Colburn.
Colburn would have to settle for a pair of third place finishes behind the impressive Shanel Drewe, who was left to rue to a first race, last lap mistake under braking at Sunny In that cost her a maiden class win, whilst James Joannou took fourth in both encounters.
Harrison commented: “It was pole position and two wins, so you can’t really ask for better than that! To be honest, it wasn’t a good weekend for me other than the results, I’m still having a few problems with the car. A victory is a victory though, and you’ll take it whatever way you can.”
The 2017 Michelin Clio Cup Series returns to action at Rockingham on 1/2 July.