WINTER VICE-CHAMPION HERRON TAKES MAIDEN CLIO WIN
Andrew Herron produced a faultless lights-to-flag performance during round three of the ELF Renault Clio Cup Winter Championship at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire this morning to claim a deserved maiden race victory in the category -- further podium success in round four also helping the 19-year-old end the series as Vice-Champion.
Finishing all four winter series races on the rostrum, the only driver other than Winter Champion Niki Lanik to do so, Andrew capped off his first ever year of car racing in style today with a dominant debut race victory in tricky, slippery conditions due to earlier rain.
The Brian Herron Contracts-backed ace, who lives in Dromore, Co. Down, qualified on the front row for both Croft races and at the start of round three he made a superb getaway to pass pole-sitter Harry Vaulkhard off the line on the run to Clervaux.
Lapping consistently well in the testing conditions, never putting a wheel wrong, Andrew led for the entire duration of the 12 lap encounter to take a memorable first ever Clio Cup win by over eight seconds from eventual title victor Niki Lanik. In the process, he also posted the second fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 40.095 seconds.
Heading into the final race of the Winter Championship just five points behind Lanik in the title race, having cut the deficit by four following his win, the JHR Developments star again made a good getaway, this time with everyone on slick tyres due to the track having almost fully dried.
Leading into Clervaux once more, Andrew came under pressure from Lanik early on and on lap two the Austrian found a way through at Tower Bend. This time it was Andrew's turn to apply the pressure to Lanik but Vaulkhard then came into play and on lap six he went through into second place at Tower.
With Vaulkhard unable to do anything about Lanik, Andrew started to pressurise the former over the final third of the race but he wasn't able to find a way by and had to settle for third place, just 0.279 seconds adrift. The top three were actually very evenly matched, just a 10th of a second the difference between their individual fastest race laps.
Although disappointed to have missed out on the winter title, Andrew's fourth podium in as many races was an impressive achievement. If you count the final race meeting of the main ELF Renault Clio Cup season too, the series rookie has actually been on the podium in five of his last six competitive outings.
"I'm quite happy with how things have gone for us throughout the Winter Championship", commented Andrew, "It's been good race experience, I led a couple of races and took my first win today so I'm very pleased with that. Niki has at least one year more experience than me so I think finishing second in the championship to him isn't too bad."
Having concluded his maiden year of car racing, Andrew will now set about preparing for the 2008 season and although a second campaign in the ELF Renault Clio Cup is likely there are several other exciting options which are currently under consideration, such as the SEAT Cupra Championship.
He added: "We'll be back out next year, we're not sure whether we'll be in Clios again or make the step up to SEATs, but I aim to have consistent top finishes wherever we are. I want to say well done to Niki, he drove very well, and although happy with my win and to have been on the podium in all four rounds, I am disappointed to have missed the title."
Provisional 2007 ELF Renault Clio Cup Winter Championship Final Standings
1st Niki Lanik, 124pts
2nd Andrew Herron, 112pts
3rd Alex MacDowall, 86pts