UK: Series Brands Hatch summary

NEWSHAM STRETCHES TITLE LEAD AT HIGH-SPEED BRANDS HATCH GP Team Pyro's Dave Newsham says he's now starting to think about the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin title crown after the Inverness racer picked up a win and a second place during...

NEWSHAM STRETCHES TITLE LEAD AT HIGH-SPEED BRANDS HATCH GP

Team Pyro's Dave Newsham says he's now starting to think about the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin title crown after the Inverness racer picked up a win and a second place during an action-packed round five and six at Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 1st/2nd May.

The 42-year-old now leads the championship by a healthy 42-point margin after a lights-to-flag victory in round five and a second place in the tense rain-effected round six. The Scotsman was denied a clean sweep of the honours though after JHR Development's Lee Pattison (Liversedge) drove a superb race to claim the silverware in round six and remain as the only driver still to beat the former Legends racer.

Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) again endured a mixed weekend with a second place in round five followed by a non-finish in Sunday's round six to drop him to fifth in the drivers' standings.

The weekend also saw podiums for Westbourne Motorsport's James Colburn (Worthing) with third in round five and JHR Development's Tom Carnaby (Scunthorpe) who secured his first podium of the year with third -- returning to the series after being stranded in the USA due to recent flight cancellations.

The NGK Masters Cup honours were shared between Newsham and Pattison while Tordoff and Carnaby both walked away with a Graduate Cup win.

Pattison supreme in wet...

In front of a live television audience and eager crowd, Newsham, for the sixth time this year, lined up as the Michelin pole-sitter after once again dominating Saturday's qualifying session. "I was right on the limiter," said the returning driver who was lapping almost a second inside the lap record (1min 39.586s) and demonstrating the power increase of the new Clio Cup race car. To his left lay a familiar face in the form of main rival Tordoff while row two was made up of Total Control Racing's Mike Robinson (Surbiton) and Colburn. The season's only other race winner Pattison meanwhile could only manage ninth after a poor qualifying session in which he suffered with fuel problems.

As the lights went out for the start of the rain-soaked 12-lap race, it was the two front-row drivers of Newsham and Tordoff who made the best start with Newsham just edging out in front. Tordoff meanwhile was side-by-side with JHR Development's Fulvio Mussi (Abberton) who had also made a great start but the two made contact through Paddock Hill Bend with Tordoff coming off worst and ending the 21-year-old's race.

With spray effecting visibility, the opening lap saw positions change throughout with Newsham just hanging onto the lead as he crossed the line for the first time followed by Robinson, Mussi and Carnaby.

The opening few stages saw the close racing continue with once again a change for the lead this time with Robinson passing Newsham through Westfield. A few laps later Newsham again lost out after running wide at Surtees dropping him to fourth.

Surtees would also prove to be the decisive corner shortly after, this time for Robinson who ran wide dropping him from first to fifth gifting the lead to Mussi with Carnaby in second Newsham in third and Pattison who had now come into the picture in fourth.

Just with the positions, the NGK fastest lap was also constantly changing hands with the honours eventually going to Team Pyro's Jack Goff (High Wycombe) who was driving well in sixth. Second place Carnaby was now hungry for Mussi's lead with the two nose-to-tail around the 2.3009-mile Kent circuit.

As the race progressed any four of the leading drivers was in contention for the lead as Newsham got a good run out of Clearways to run side-by-side with Carnaby over the line and snatch his second place. Pattison, who was now really starting to come good, also had his eye on making up further places passing Carnaby at Paddock Hill Bend.

Lap 10 would prove the decisive lap though as Pattison repeated his move at Paddock Hill Bend to take Newsham's second place and then the lead at Surtees. With Pattison leading for the second time this season, Newsham looked content to settle for second but there was unfinished business for the final podium spot with Carnaby just getting past Mussi in the closing stages.

After 12 action-packed laps it was 35-year-old Pattison, despite starting ninth, who took the chequered flag along with the NGK Masters Cup honours. Newsham finished second with Carnaby picking up his first podium of the year in third together with the Graduate Cup win. Mussi finished fourth although the 24-year-old could well have been the race winner with Goff rounding off the top five after a strong performance from the 19-year-old. A post race investigation by the Clerk of the Course however saw Goff handed a time penalty dropping him to sixth and promoting Robinson to fifth.

Newsham dominates once more...

Saturday's earlier round five saw Newsham take his now familiar position at the front of the gird with Tordoff alongside him and Robinson and Colburn on row two. As the race got underway it was Michelin pole-sitter Newsham who made the best start to lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend followed by Tordoff and Colburn who had got the jump on Robinson after a poor start by the 27-year-old. Likewise Mussi had gained two places to move into fifth.

Then through Stirling Bend on the opening lap Total Control Racing's Alistair Barclay (London) became beached in the gravel leading to the season's first Safety Car appearance as the order at the front remained Newsham, Tordoff, Colburn, Westbourne Motorsport's Rob Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) and Mussi. Two laps later the lights on the New Megane Renaultsport 250 Safety Car went out with Newsham making a good restart to lead once more on the now extended 14-lap race.

The following lap Elite Motorsport's Jake Packun (Bolton) and Mussi went side-by-side through Sheene Curve with the pair still abreast as they came across the line. The two had also now been joined by Robinson and Carnaby. Neither racer was prepared to yield as they entered Paddock Hill Bend with the chasing car of Goff also able to move into contention. By the end of the action-packed lap Mussi has just been able to hold onto his fifth place with Robinson moving into sixth at the expense of Packun while Goff found himself in eighth as the midfield battle raged on.

Meanwhile out in front second place Tordoff had no answer for Newsham's blistering pace as he continued to push, setting the NGK fastest lap in the process. Third and fourth places though were still very much undecided with Gaffney all over the back of Colburn's car proving there were no team orders.

On lap 10 Newsham's lead was now more than three seconds but as Tordoff and Colburn followed him through Graham Hill Bend, just behind Gaffney got out of shape causing Mussi to swerve and mixing up the midfield once more. Gaffney was still in fourth as they completed the lap with Packun sneaking past into fifth dropping Mussi to sixth.

Up front Newsham continued to push and was now enjoying a five second lead over Tordoff with Colburn looking a comfortable third. Fourth-placed Gaffney was now under real pressure from Packun with the two nose-to-tail on the final lap. Fortunately for Gaffney the Bolton racer pushed a little too hard through Druids going into the gravel and easing the burden on the 20-year-old local driver.

Race leader Newsham was blissfully unaware of all this as he crossed the line to claim another lights-to-flag victory along with the NGK Masters Cup. Tordoff finished second together with the Graduate Cup honours while Colburn picked up his second consecutive podium in third. Gaffney and Mussi rounded off the top five.

Commenting on his weekend Newsham said: "It's been another good weekend for us and I'm now really starting to think about the championship title. The car felt fantastic in round five as it just kept getting quicker. Lee had the better of me in round six though and JHR obviously found the best wet set-up. I just kept hanging in there as it was one of those races which would be decided by who could make the fewest mistakes."

Commenting on his weekend Pattison said: "We struggled with a fuel issue in qualifying which put me down the gird and round one didn't fare much better with a gearbox problem. Round six though all the problems had been ironed out and despite the tricky conditions the car felt really good and I'm delighted to come away with another win."

Second-place in round five Tordoff said: "Dave was just so quick and I struggled to keep up with him. Every lap he just seemed to be able to build more speed than me."

Colburn commenting on his podium in round five said: "To get two podiums in a row is a real bonus. The car has felt good all weekend and I'm pleased to come away with another good haul of points."

Commenting on his first podium of the year Carnaby added: "I really enjoyed round six as it was a great race and Fulvio and I were having a fantastic battle."

Rounds seven and eight of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place on 5th/6th June at Oulton Park.

-source: renaultsport.co.uk

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Series General
Drivers Graham Hill , Sam Tordoff , Dave Newsham , Jack Goff