Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) raced to his first win of 2013 at a warm and sunny Thruxton today, Sunday, 5th May, during round six of the Renault UK Clio Cup, while a second podium of the weekend for Josh Files (Norwich) enabled him to close to within just three points of the championship lead.
Starting the race from pole position, Hodgetts got away from the line well and the KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria driver was never headed despite constant attention from round five winner Lee Pattison (Liversedge) who capped a sensational weekend with second position from fifth on the grid.
“It’s taken long enough to win but we’ve done it now”, said Hodgetts, “I just need to say a big thank you to the team and everyone who has stood by us through the tough times, it’s not been anyone’s fault how the season has gone so far we’ve just been really unlucky. We’ve finally got it right, that win has given the whole team a lift.”
While JHR Developments racer Pattison was within 0.5 seconds of Hodgetts for most of the race, during the closing stages the leader managed to eke out an advantage of roughly one second but Pattison who was named the ‘BuyOils.co.uk Driver of the Event’ in recognition of his outstanding Thruxton weekend was satisfied to settle for second place.
“Like I’ve said already, the aim was to get on the podium as quickly as possible on my return to Clios and we’ve done what we set out to do already”, he commented, “Donington didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but to have the win yesterday, my first pole and now another podium with second is a dream come true really. I’ll take a first and a second all day long thank you very much!”
Files, who again rued a less than spectacular start from the front row of the grid, recovered into the top three on lap four and spent the remainder of the race hounding Pattison. His fourth podium in as many outings though elevated the Team Pyro driver into second in the points and, with series leader Paul Rivett (Banstead) only finishing ninth, Files was more than happy with his weekend’s work.
“We wanted to come here and close the gap to him [Rivett] so it’s a lovely feeling to have done that”, said Files, “We’ve had another strong weekend again, I can’t complain at all. I’m racing in the Eurocup Clios between now and Oulton Park so I think when we come to the next round of the UK championship we’ll just pick up where we left off.”
At the beginning of round six, Hodgetts initially led the Finesse Motorsport car of Jake Giddings (Wisbech) who shot into second place ahead of the quick-starting Pattison, Files and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Wothing). The latter, though, was passed by JHR’s Josh Cook (Bristol) on the run to the complex.
Pattison wasted no time in taking second from Giddings but then came under huge pressure from the Finesse driver. On lap four though, Files had a great run through the complex and into the fast sequence of corners at Noble, Goodwood and Village to grab third from Giddings. From there, the top three remained unchanged throughout.
Cook, having pressured Giddings, for a few laps, moved into fourth at the complex on lap seven and Pyro’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) followed the JHR car through to elbow Giddings back to sixth and from there the latter’s race came undone as he dropped back to 11th at the finish.
The battle for fourth between Cook and impressive car racing rookie Hand intensified and on lap nine into the complex the pair were side by side Hand momentarily edging ahead, although Cook hit back on the exit.
Fifth would have been an excellent finish for Hand, a season’s best, but his hopes were dashed on the run to the chequered flag on lap 12 out of the chicane when an electrical fault sapped his car’s power and he was only able to coast across the line in eighth place.
Scuderia Vittoria’s Devon Modell (Maidstone) therefore, from 10th on the grid, capped an excellent drive to take fifth at the finish easily the best result of his rookie campaign just ahead of Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and Westbourne team-mate Colburn.
Ninth place for Rivett, from 13th on the grid, was just enough to enable the Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver to maintain his place at the top of the championship while Westbourne’s Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) rounded out the top 10.
Third overall for Files again bagged him the Graduate Cup victory while Handy Motorsport with Pyro’s Simon Belcher (Swindon) made it two Masters Cup wins from two for the weekend Pattison again ineligible in the class due to finishing in the outright top three. The results mean reigning Masters Cup Champion Belcher has moved to the top of the class standings for the first time in 2013.
There is now a five week break in action for the Renault UK Clio Cup with rounds seven and eight of the 2013 season taking place on 8th/9th June at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire.
Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd6):
1st Paul Rivett, 150pts; 2nd Josh Files, 147pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 135pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd6):
1st Team Pyro, 282pts; 2nd Westbourne Motorsport, 220pts; 3rd Scuderia Vittoria, 181pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd6):
1st Josh Files, 170pts; 2nd James Colburn, 150pts; 3rd Jake Giddings, 125pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd6):
1st Simon Belcher, 148pts; 2nd Graham Field, 144pts; 3rd Finlay Crocker, 139pts
Official website: www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/cliocup
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Full results and timings available at www.tsl-timing.com
Photos courtesy & copyright Jakob Ebrey Photography