TITLE BATTLE NEVER CLOSER AS MICHELIN CLIO CUP SERIES HEADS TO OULTON
12th August 2015
Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire will host the penultimate event of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series next Saturday, 15th August, where rounds 10 and 11 of the season should play a pivotal role in the outcome of the 2015 title battles.In both the Race Series, for 2.0-litre normally aspirated third generation Clio Cup cars running on slick Michelin tyres, and Road Series, which features race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 road cars with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 road tyres, there is little to choose between the main contenders.
Westbourne Motorsport’s Luke Herbert (Chichester) holds the lead in the headline Race Series as the category prepares to visit Oulton Park, but only by a slim three-point margin on total scores over privateer racer Paul Streather (Hinckley).
After a dramatic weekend at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit a couple of weeks ago, where Streather secured a superb double victory in contrasting weather, he has become Herbert’s chief challenger to the coveted crown and the title fight is now developing into a two-horse race.
That said, 20Ten Racing’s Brett Lidsey (Gravesend), Finesse Motorsport’s Andy Jordan (Birdgnorth) and Westbourne’s Sam Randon (Ashbourne) – who are currently placed third to fifth in the standings respectively – are all still well within touching distance of the lead pair.
With only four races to go this season, the final coming at Silverstone International Circuit next month, this is the point of the year when ‘drop scores’ begin to become a factor. Under that ruling, where drivers have to subtract their lowest score of the season from their final total, Herbert has an enhanced lead of 17 points which is benefited by his non-finish, so zero ‘drop’, from round nine.
Adam Hatfield (Cranworth) is sixth in the Race Series standings but on drops, the Finesse driver slips three points behind Westbourne’s impressive 16-year-old James Dorlin (Barnsley) who is already a double podium finisher in his maiden season.
Returning to action after missing the Brands Hatch weekend is Intercity Racing’s Matt Allison (Norwich), the former British Touring Car Championship star having taken victory in round six at Croft as well as two other podiums from the four races he has contested this year.
Notably the Race Series welcomes a new face, but a familiar name to the paddock, at Oulton in the guise of reigning Road Series Champion Anton Spires (Milton Keynes). Leading Road Series squad Paint Perfect Motorsport is giving Spires his debut in the headline category, an event which will also mark the team’s first appearance in the Race Series ahead of a planned expansion in 2016.
Much like its sister championship, the Road Series is also very hotly contested with Luke Pinder (Shipley) a mere four points ahead of nearest challenger Nic Harrison (Burton-on-Trent) at the top of the standings.
However, as with Herbert’s position in the Race Series, Jade Developments driver Pinder has an expanded advantage when ‘drop scores’ are implemented – his lead increasing to a healthy 26 points on net totals.
Third in the championship for the race-converted road cars is Tyler Lidsey (Dartford), younger brother of Race Series front-runner Brett, an impressive maiden season of track competition delivering two wins thus far and two other podiums.
Fourth, after a torrid season by his standards, is category regular Jake Honour (Devizes) and he will be determined to add to the win he took for Jade Developments in round nine at a rain-lashed Brands Hatch a fortnight ago. Next up are Sarah Franklin (Kettering) and John Creasey (Lincoln), both podium finishers for Westbourne and Paint Perfect respectively.
One factor which could have a major bearing on the two categories at Oulton is the one-day format with practice, qualifying and both races all taking place on the Saturday. Providing a big test for the teams as well as the drivers, the compacted schedule adds another variable and even more spice to the championship chase.
Following a 20-minute free practice session at 08.30 on Saturday, 15th August, qualifying for rounds 10 and 11 of the season will get underway at 10.25. Race one of the weekend will begin at 13.45 with the second encounter following at 16.55. Live timing will be available HERE
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo, Safety Devices and ALS Performance.
Provisional 2015 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series Driver Standings (after Rd9):
1st Luke Herbert, 221pts; 2nd Paul Streather, 218pts; =3rd Brett Lidsey & Andy Jordan, 178pts; 5th Sam Randon, 159pts; 6th Adam Hatfield, 139pts
Provisional 2015 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Driver Standings (after Rd9):
1st Luke Pinder, 229pts; 2nd Nic Harrison, 225pts; 3rd Tyler Lidsey, 213pts;
4th Jake Honour, 186pts; 5th Sarah Franklin, 174pts; 6th John Creasey, 135pts
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