GLEW TAKES DOUBLE WIN AT BRANDS HATCH Team Pyro's Phil Glew (Tothill, Lincolnshire) made a dream start to his title championship bid with two wins during the opening rounds of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Brands Hatch Indy...
GLEW TAKES DOUBLE WIN AT BRANDS HATCH
Team Pyro's Phil Glew (Tothill, Lincolnshire) made a dream start to his title championship bid with two wins during the opening rounds of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Brands Hatch Indy circuit on 4th/5th April. 25-year-old Glew, who last year finished third in the championship, took victory in round one on Saturday, 4th April followed by a repeat performance in round two on Sunday, 5th April.
Total Control Racing's Alex MacDowall (Carlisle), also in his second season of Clio racing, claimed two podiums during the weekend with a second and third place, while JHR Development's Andrew Herron (Dromore, County Do.) and Team Pyro's Aron Smith (Rathfarnham, Dublin) picked up the rest of the honours with a podium a piece.
With a dry track and sunny conditions, 25 drivers lined up on the grid in anticipation of round one on Saturday, 4th April and the start of the 2009 Clio Cup season. As the lights went out on the 20 lap race, MacDowall was unable to make the most of his pole position allowing fellow front-runner Glew to get ahead and lead the field going into Paddock Hill Bend. Herron and Smith also made good starts to lie in third and fourth, as did Range Storage Ltd with Coastal Racing's Lee Pattison (Liversedge) who made a fantastic start going from ninth to fifth.
Further down the field, contact between JHR Development team-mates Mark Hazell (Ilanhennock) and Tom Carnaby (Scunthorpe) led to an early end to their races as the remaining 23 drivers made it safely through the first corner.
By the end of the first lap, Pattison -- who would go on to be awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -- had managed to clinch fourth having passed Smith at Clearways with Westbourne Motorsport with Colin Stancombe Engineering's James Colburn (Worthing) in sixth followed by Amery Motorsport's Dave Newsham (Inverness) and Total Control Racing's Mike Robinson (Surbiton, Surrey).
As the race progressed, the leading pair of Glew and MacDowall pulled away from Herron after a lock-up at Clearways cost him time. Despite his poor start, MacDowall continued to battle hard, setting the fastest lap of the race -- 52.885s (81.59mph average) and beating his own lap record set here last season -- on lap four earning him two bonus points in the process.
By the halfway stage on the 1.64-mile Kent circuit, MacDowall was still trying to regain the lead while further down the order, Robinson and Amery Motorsport's David Shepherd (Sandbach) were able to get pass Newsham to take seventh and eighth respectively with Newsham dropping to ninth. Team Pyro's Alex Dew (Bampton), APO Sport's Alex Osborne (Northampton) and Mardi Gras Motorsport's David Dickenson (Keatingstown) also battled for positions in the midfield.
As the race neared the chequered flag, Smith tried to regain fourth place from Pattison with a move at Graham Hill Bend but was unable to pass. On the last lap, MacDowall made one last push to retake the lead but was forced to settle for second leaving Glew to take his first Clio Cup victory with Herron in third.
A packed crowd greeted drivers for round two on Sunday, 5th April which was also being shown live on ITV4. With an identical front row from round one following qualifying on Saturday, Glew once again got the better start leading MacDowall into the first corner only for Alex to be passed by Smith at Druids to drop down to third. The race was quickly halted though as contact between Robinson and Shepherd at Paddock Hill Bend lead to Shepherd's car being in a dangerous position resulting in the Clerk of the Course deploying the Safety Car.
The race restarted on lap four, having been extended to 23 laps, with MacDowall immediately trying to re-take Smith leaving Glew to pull away, setting the fastest lap of the race as a result. Further down the field Colburn, the youngest driver in the field at 16 who was also awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day, was running well in fourth with Newsham, Pattison and Team Pyro's Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield) fighting for points in the midfield.
On lap 10, contact between Robinson and Carnaby at Druids left both cars in an unsafe position causing the second Safety Car of the day to be deployed. Lap 10 also saw contact between Coastal Racing's Carl Bradley (Morecambe) and David Tyldsley Racing's Stephen Tyldsley (Leeds).
Racing resumed on lap 16 with MacDowall again all over the back of Smith in the battle for second and third. His challenges were cut short however when the race was red flagged on lap 19 when it emerged that Stephen Tyldsley required medical attention following his earlier coming together with Bradley at Clearways, leaving Glew to take his second win of the weekend.
Commenting after round two Glew said: "I got a fantastic start for both races and managed to pip Alex into Paddock Hill Bend but it was such hard work keeping him in my mirrors, especially in the first race. He tried to throw me a few dummies but I know Brands well and managed to hold him off to the flag."
Double podium finisher MacDowall said: "I'm pleased to come away with two podiums this weekend but disappointed at not converting my two pole positions in to something more. I did manage to set the fastest lap in race one though so managed to take two points off Phil and I know I need to work on my starts before the next rounds at Thruxton."
Third place Herron in round one said: "I locked up at Clearways early on and hurt my tyres which meant the leaders were able to pull away and I never managed to catch them."
Second place Smith from round two said: "Overall it's been a good weekend for me although I'm disappointed with my fifth place in round one but the podium in the second race has certainly made up for that."
Rounds three and four of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Thruxton circuit on 25th/26th April.