Leading Internet Domain Name Registrars Freeparking.com To Field All-Star Cast In Barcelona 24 Hour Race
British Touring Car aces Phil Bennett and Jim Edwards Jnr will join forces with Clio racer, Paul Lomax and former Formula Palmer Audi Champion, Steve Warburton for September's Barcelona 24 Hour race. The all-star line up will field a Freeparking.com-supported Clio 2.0 RS, race prepared by Spanish team, RC Competicion Sport.
Adding to the Barcelona-based RC Competicion Sport squad's local knowledge, respected saloon car expert, Mark Fish will act as special team manager and strategist. Fish's own team, Mark Fish Motorsport won the inaugural UK Clio Cup team and driver titles with Jim Edwards Jnr and Paul Lomax four years ago.
Held at the Catalunya circuit, the Barcelona 24 Hour race is an immensely competitive event and regularly attracts in excess of 70 cars comprising three and four driver teams.
The Freeparking.com driver team will be headed by Phil Bennett. Although Bennett has never driven a Clio competitively, he began his career in Renault's Spider series and holds the mantle of most successful rookie ever to race in the British Touring Car Championship. Chalking up three race wins in his first season, Bennett graduated to a works seat with the developing Proton team in 2002. The Northamptonshire-based driver currently races a GTS Saleen S7 in the all-new Le Mans Endurance Series and finished third in class on his championship debut earlier this month.
The 0-100-0 mph world record holder, Bennett has also recently raced a Porsche 996, Honda Integra and Radical SR3.
"I've never driven a Clio before," he comments, "but I do have plenty of endurance racing experience. Clios finished first, second, fourth and fifth in this event last year so there is clearly a lot of potential."
Maidenhead's Jim Edwards Jnr will partner Bennett in the Freeparking.com car and brings with him a wealth of Clio experience. The 2000 Renault UK Clio Cup Champion, Edwards Jnr is also a British Touring Car race winner with two production class wins to his name, including a memorable victory in the wet at Croft in 2001.
Edwards Jnr made a surprise return to the UK Clio Championship earlier this year shortly before winning the last ever Renault 5 GT Turbo race against the likes of Barrie Williams and Perry McCarthy.
"I'm delighted to have been given the opportunity to race a Clio in an endurance event," Edwards Jnr said. "I'm really looking forward to teaming up with Paul and Mark again after winning the team and driver titles with them in the 2000 UK Clio Cup. Having Phil Bennett alongside us is fantastic news as he brings huge experience and very valuable endurance expertise.
"I haven't driven the Clio 2.0 RS yet but I believe it to be similar to the UK car with a few modifications. The most notable change is to the rear axle. It is now significantly more stable which means huge speed can be carried both into and through corners."
Bennett and Edwards Jnr will be joined by Costa del Sol resident and gallery owner, Paul Lomax. Like Edwards Jnr, Lomax helped Mark Fish Motorsport to the UK team championship title in 2000. More recently, he piloted a Clio V6 in the pan-European Clio Trophy series and raced at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix invitation round.
Experienced saloon and single seater racer, Steve Warburton completes the Freeparking.com Barcelona 24 Hour driver line-up. With class wins in the Willhire and Nurburgring 24 hour races to his name, Warburton is a proven endurance driver. Runner up in the 1994 British Saloon Car Championship, Warburton enjoyed a perfect season in 2001, racking up a staggering ten podium places and 12 point finishes in as many races on his way to the Formula Palmer Audi title.
The Freeparking.com Clio RS broke cover at the Calafat circuit, one hour south of Barcelona on June 13. With Paul Lomax on testing duty, the RC Competicion- prepared car ran faultlessly all day. "Because we've got a brand new car for the 24 hour race it was decided that we needed a very low key initial run," Lomax said after the shake-down. "The main goal was to run the engine in gradually, increasing the rpm in stages through the sessions. In all, I ran the car for about 60 laps of the circuit. By the end of the afternoon we were running to a maximum of 6000 rpm, still less than ultimate pace.
"I was quickest on the circuit by over a second, lapping much quicker than several other cars also beginning their preparations for September's race. The car never missed a beat all day and my thanks go to RC Competicion, Mark Fish and Autotec for producing such a quick car straight out of the box."
As special team manager, Mark Fish explains, the Freeparking.com Clio 2.0 RS is an updated version of the car driven to double title glory by Lomax and Edwards Jnr in the 2000 UK series. "The Clio RS is the second phase of Renault's Clio development programme and utilises the latest generation technology.
"It's a car that I know very well and given the Clio's past successes in the Barcelona 24 Hour race, one that is well suited to this type of endurance event."
Paul Lomax and the Freeparking.com Clio will next run at Montmelo on July 25. "Due to other commitments, Jim Edwards Jnr, Phil Bennett and Steve Warburton are unable to take part in next weekend's test," Lomax said. "However, we are aiming to finalise the tyre and brake choices, finish running the car in and start work on a race set-up.
"Our main test will be August 30 at Montmelo and will be attended by all four Freeparking.com drivers."
Title sponsors Freeparking.com are joined by Abztrakt Galerias. Based in La Cala de Mijas, Abztrakt Galerias specialise in selling modern, original works of art by up-and-coming artists from around the world.