Fastest circuit on calendar next stop for unpredictable Renault UK Clio Cup Title Race

15th May 2018

Max Coates (GBR) Team Pyro Renault Clio Cup

Thruxton in Hampshire hosts rounds five and six of the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup this weekend (Sat 19/Sun 20 May) – a fixture that always ranks among the most popular of the season thanks to the circuit’s spectacular high speed nature.

Just off the A303 near Andover, Thruxton is the fastest circuit on the Clio Cup calendar with average laps speeds of in excess of 100mph. With three different winners in the opening four rounds and one of the most competitive grids in Clio Cup history, the action is predicted to be at its brilliant best.

Both Clio Cup races take place on the Sunday and, as ever, the championship’s teams and drivers will receive vast exposure with the action being broadcast live by ITV4. Headlining the event is the British Touring Car Championship’s latest rounds and a huge trackside crowd is anticipated for one of the biggest events of the year at the circuit – this year celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Who’s been doing the winning?
The winners of the Clio Cup’s opening four rounds in 2018 are WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Epsom Downs), Team Pyro’s Max Coates (Scorton) and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Dorlin (Barnsley).

Four other drivers have also been on the podium: Westbourne’s James Colburn (Worthing) and Pyro trio Daniel Rowbottom (Kidderminster), Bradley Burns (Farnham) and Jack McCarthy (Bromley) although plenty more have also come close.

Coates took over the championship lead last time out at Donington as Rivett – who had led previously – suffered a sizeable accident. Meanwhile Dorlin was supreme with wins in both races at the Leicestershire circuit.

Form guide heading to Thruxton
It was at Thruxton 12 months ago with a dramatic late move on eventual Champion Mike Bushell that 19-year-old Dorlin took his first win in the Clio Cup and he returns on a real high after his Donington performances… Team-mate Colburn should also be right in the hunt – he has won three times previously at Thruxton.

So, too, has triple Champion Rivett while WDE team-mate Lee Pattison (Halifax) has twice won in the past at the so-called ‘Hampshire speed bowl’. Another of WDE’s drivers, Dan Zelos (Dereham), holds the race lap record at Thruxton and, with stable-mates Sam Osborne (Worksop) and Nicolas Hamilton (Welwyn Garden City) also showing strongly at Donington, the Kent-based outfit could be poised to claw back ground on Pyro at the top of the Entrants Trophy table…

Pyro has also enjoyed plenty of previous success around Thruxton; however none of its current line-up has ever won there. Coates will certainly be looking to build on his championship lead but many eyes could be on his teenage team-mates Burns, McCarthy and Zak Fulk (Guildford).

Burns, aged 16 and a protégé of the BMR BTCC team, and 17-year-old McCarthy joined Dorlin in making it the youngest Clio Cup podium in history at Donington where Fulk, also still only 16, enjoyed a best-yet fifth place result. McCarthy arrives at Thruxton tied for second in the standings with Rivett… Meanwhile Rowbottom will be keen to repeat his pace in recent testing at Thruxton – he was fastest of all – as he seeks to close on the championship leaders.

A year since its Clio Cup debut at Thruxton, the emerging MRM team returns with cars for Brett Lidsey (Northfleet) and Jade Edwards (Northampton). Both are full of confidence after career best results at Donington with a fifth for Lidsey and an eighth for Edwards.

Ex-BTCC racer Michael Epps (Hemel Hempstead) is surely a contender for podiums at Thruxton as his new Matrix Motorsport team gets stronger with each outing. Team-mates Andy Wilmot (Dagenham), Aaron Thompson (Romford) and Jeff Alden (Cheltenham) will be looking to build on results so far and, after a positive debut at Donington, the small BLG Racing team and Luke Warr (Sudbury) continue their steep learning curve with a first visit to Thruxton.

When to watch
The Clio Cup’s teams and drivers will first be on track at Thruxton on Saturday for their timed qualifying session (14:10-14:40) when their first and second fastest lap times will determine their starting grid positions for the two races. These take place on Sunday, at 10:45 and 15:10 and much of the action will be broadcast live on ITV4. Both races are 12 laps in distance.

The Clio Cup’s current qualifying and race lap records around Thruxton, both set in 2017, are 1m22.207s/103.17mph (Mike Bushell) and 1m22.777s/102.46mph (Dan Zelos) respectively.

Roy Fewkes
Note: all Clio Cup cars competing at Thruxton this weekend will sport a one-off logo as a mark of respect for Roy Fewkes – the championship’s former Technical Commissioner who sadly passed away on Friday 11 May.