‘PUNISHING’ ROCKINGHAM NEXT STOP FOR UNPREDICTABLE RENAULT UK CLIO CUP TITLE RACE
8th August 2018
Unpredictable and absorbing: the Renault UK Clio Cup enters a crucial stage of its 2018 season when it visits the unique banked Rockingham circuit this weekend (Sat 11/Sun 12 August).
With six races to go – Rockingham marks rounds 13 and 14 out of 18 – the championship’s top 11 all still have a chance of winning arguably the most competitive single-model saloon car championship in Europe.
Certainly the Clio Cup stands out when it comes to producing future stars of the high profile British Touring Car Championship with 12 of its past drivers currently on the BTCC grid. They include 2012 and 2015 champions Jack Goff and Ashley Sutton – winners of two of the BTCC’s most recent races at Snetterton, Norfolk.
LIVE on ITV4 & timings
The Clio Cup will, as ever, be in action alongside the BTCC at Rockingham, located near Corby in Northamptonshire – thereby again putting its teams, drivers and sponsors in front of a huge trackside crowd and also (on Sunday) ITV4’s cameras which will be broadcasting live from the event.
Adding to the unpredictability, Rockingham is the only anti-clockwise circuit on the calendar, is notoriously tough on tyres and also features a walled, banked US oval-style Turn 1.
The Clio Cup drivers will first be on track at Rockingham on Friday (10 Aug) for two free practice sessions. This will be followed on Saturday by timed qualifying (11:20-11:50) and then, later that day (16:10), the first of their two races, round 13 of the season. Round 14 follows on Sunday, at 13:30.
Who are the favourites?
Arriving at Rockingham the smart money surely is on one of the championship’s current top three: Team Pyro’s Max Coates (Scorton), WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Epsom Downs) or Westbourne Motorsport’s James Dorlin (Barnsley).
Coates leads outright by 27 points from second-placed Rivett while Dorlin is just three more behind in third. A maximum of 56 points is on offer in Rockingham’s two races and all three drivers have been vocal about the state of play in the run-up to the event.
Likewise Daniel Rowbottom (Kidderminster) who, following his maiden victory in the championship last time out at Snetterton for his small DRM team, believes he is still in title contention. Fourth overall, he is 70 points off the top with a maximum of 168 in total to be had from the remainder of the season (Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch)…
CLICK HERE for the latest championship points.
Who else can still do it?
The others still in title contention include Matrix Motorsport’s Michael Epps (Hemel Hempstead), Pyro’s Bradley Burns (Farnham), Jack McCarthy (Bromley) and Zak Fulk (Guildford), Westbourne’s James Colburn (Worthing) and WDE’s Dan Zelos (Dereham) and Lee Pattison (Halifax).
Ultimately all need strong results at Rockingham if they want to keep any title aspirations alive with Colburn, Zelos, Fulk – currently ninth, tenth and 11th in the standings – and Pattison (who will in fact miss this weekend’s action) most at risk.
Who else to watch for at Rockingham
Notably Coates was a winner at Rockingham last year at an event that also saw then 16-year-olds Burns and Fulk both stun on their debuts and 17-year-old McCarthy achieve his maiden podium result.
Twelve months on, eyes are on three more new teen talents – 16-year-olds Jack Young (Belfast) and Nick Reeve (Romford) and 18-year-old Ben Colburn (Worthing) who all showed mighty pace on their debuts at Snetterton.
They have added to a grid already bursting with talent and also on the entry list this weekend are Young’s more experienced MRM team-mates Jade Edwards (Northampton) and Brett Lidsey (Northfleet), WDE pair Sam Osborne (Worksop) and Nic Hamilton (Welwyn Garden City), Matrix’s Aaron Thompson (Romford) and Jeff Alden (Cheltenham) and BLG Racing’s Luke Warr (Sudbury).