SMITH ENDS GLEW'S UNBEATEN RUN AT DONINGTON PARK Team Pyro's Aron Smith (Dublin) finally ended team-mate Phil Glew's (Tothill, Lincolnshire) unbeaten run in the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin after taking victory in round six at Donington...
SMITH ENDS GLEW'S UNBEATEN RUN AT DONINGTON PARK
Team Pyro's Aron Smith (Dublin) finally ended team-mate Phil Glew's (Tothill, Lincolnshire) unbeaten run in the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin after taking victory in round six at Donington Park on Sunday, 17th May. Smith didn't have it all his own way though with Glew collecting his fifth consecutive Clio victory after winning round five held on Saturday, 16th May -- extending his leading in the championship to 27 points over Total Control Racing's Alex MacDowall (Carlisle).
Changeable weather conditions made for thrilling action in round five as JHR Development's Andrew Herron finished second with Coastal Racing's Carl Bradley (Morecambe) claiming his first podium with third place. Meanwhile the drama continued in round six -- broadcast on ITV4 -- with MacDowall taking second with Range Storage Ltd with Coastal Racing's Lee Pattison (Liversedge) also securing his first podium.
Irish racer breaks 100% record...
After Glew's fifth consecutive Clio victory in round five, a crowd of thousands both at the circuit and at home, eagerly anticipated the start of round six. As with Saturday's race, teams were left with difficult tyre choices following an earlier downpour. At the last minute, six drivers darted into the pits to change onto a combination of slicks on the front and wets on the rear but forcing them to start from the pit lane as a result.
Michelin pole-sitter Glew -- who has yet to begin a race away from the front row -- also chose to opt for the slick/wet combination but was given a 30 second time penalty for taking too long to change tyres on the grid.
As the lights went out it was MacDowall who made the better start to lead the field only for Glew -- who was now classified well down the order due to his time penalty -- to retake the place. Smith, who began the race on row three (who was also on slicks and wets) had moved into second ahead of Amery Motorpsort's Dave Newsham (Inverness) and Pattison with Herron, who had chosen to run on full slicks, dropping down to fifth.
In the midfield, Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) and Mike Robinson (Surrey) and Elite Motorsport's Jake Packun (Bolton) were all running well in the battle to be inside the top 10 with Herron still struggling to find grip.
The race continued with Glew leading the field yet, due to his time penalty, was in 16th place. Newsham who had been running well in third made a mistake going into Goddards causing him to spin and ending a disappointing weekend for the Inverness driver after also failing to finish in round five.
Lap five saw Packun who was running in fourth - the highest he'd been in a Clio race -- spin off dropping him down the order with Glew also running wide at the Old Hairpin adding to his troubles.
As the race progressed the track continued to dry allowing Herron to make full use of his tyre choice. MacDowall (also on the slick/wet combo) was also now catching race leader Smith. Behind the front runners, Coastal Racing's Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) was showing great form having moved up to sixth from 21st on the grid and still pressing.
With the race entering the final stages, it was Herron who was now lapping quickest with the 20-year-old setting the NGK Fastest Lap with a time of 1min 19.945s (88.13mph average). Herron's surge came too late though handing the chequered flag to Smith to claim his first Clio victory this season and end Glew's 100% record. MacDowall was forced to settle for second with Pattison in third. Gaffney - who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day - collected his best result of the season in fifth.
Commenting after round six, a delighted Smith said: "I'm over the moon with my first win. It's a massive boost in confidence and great to see Phil's record finally broken as all the drivers thought it was never going to end! It was a real tough race though and tyre choice made such a difference."
Second place from round six, MacDowall said: "I guess full slicks might have worked best and I was a little too cautious on the first corner. Smith drove really well though and I just couldn't find a way past him."
Pattison added: "This podium result has been a long time coming. We ran well last year and now we're finally on the pace this season."
Glew makes it five from five...
As the lights went out for Saturday's round five, Michelin pole-sitter Glew made a good start to lead the field into Redgate ahead of MacDowall and Herron. In the midfield, contact between JHR Development's Tom Carnaby (Scunthorpe) and Packun saw both drivers go off forcing the Safety Car to be deployed at the end of lap one. That was not before Pattison had been able to make up three places to move into fifth, with Bradley also passing Herron to take third.
Racing resumed on lap five with the race distance increased to 16 laps. Glew got away cleanly to lead once more while behind him, Herron was able to pass Bradley to retake third at Coppice.
As the race progressed, the front runners of Glew, MacDowall and Herron began to pull away from fourth placed Bradley, with Herron setting the NGK Fastest Lap on lap six with a time of 1min 18.901s (89.30mph average) and a new lap record.
In the midfield a battle was developing for sixth, seventh and eighth, between Team Pyro's Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield), Pattison and Alex Dew (Oxford) who was running well in his Team Pyro car after starting 17th. Gaffney was also running strong in 11th having started 20th.
By lap 11 the three car train of Glew, MacDowall and Herron was unexpectedly interrupted when a mistake by MacDowall at McLeans allowed Herron to move into second.
With the race entering the final few laps, the rain which had been threatening all race, began to fall testing all drivers to the limit. Lloyd, who been running strongly in seventh place, ran onto the grass dropping him down the order to 13th with Dew -- who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day for his performance -- now in seventh.
As Glew entered Goddards for the last time Herron was now too far behind to challenge. Behind though, the action was far from over as MacDowall got a poor run out of the chicane allowing Bradley to just pip the 18-year-old to third by a mere 0.023s.
Commenting after round five, race winner and championship leader Glew said: "It's just been a fantastic start to the season and I don't know when it's going to end. The first race was really hard; not so much in the dry but when it started raining everything changed, but I think my experience helped and to win five on the trot is just amazing."
A frustrated Herron, still looking for his first win, said: "It's coming! The team has given me a fantastic car but qualifying is just so important in Clio racing and we just weren't quick enough to be on the front row. I have to admit I'm getting a bit sick of always being on the bottom steps of the podium!"
A delighted Bradley added: "It's amazing to finally make it onto the podium. Last year I got seven fourth places and was expecting better things this season but it's been a slow start for us."
Rounds seven and eight of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Cheshire's Oulton Park on 30th/31st May.
-credit: rcc uk