Driver signs an 'eleventh hour deal with Team Pyro' to compete
Former British Touring Car Championship and Renault UK Clio Cup racer Jeff Smith (Wellingborough) will make a welcome return to one-make racing this Saturday, 17th May, at Oulton Park in Cheshire after signing an eleventh hour deal with Team Pyro to compete in the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series. (A 2014 Clio Cup car is shown above.)
The 48-year-old, who graduated into the BTCC from Renault Clios in 2010 and remained in the UK’s biggest championship for the next three seasons where he achieved a best result of second place at Knockhill in 2012, is relishing being back behind the wheel of a 2.0-litre Clio Cup car. His long term goal is to be back on the BTCC grid, but Smith says racing a Renault Clio is the next best thing.
“This is a one off at the minute”, said the Northamptonshire businessman, “I want to get back in the swing of things, there’s no space on the touring car [BTCC] grid at the minute so there’s no better place to be than racing a Clio – it’s the next best thing.
“Being a touring car driver, I ought to be trying to win at the weekend but it really isn’t that easy in a one-make series likes Clios. People don’t realise that, there aren’t even single tenths of a second in it, but I’m hoping to be at the sharp end.”
Following on from an action packed season-opener at Rockingham last month, the respective ‘Race Series’ and Michelin Clio Cup Road Series categories will – for the first time – enjoy separate contests at Oulton Park’s Island Circuit on Saturday, rather than the combined grids of Rockingham
Pyro’s David Dickenson (Wicklow) leads the Race Series standings by a healthy 13-point margin going in to the second event of the 2014 season, rounds three and four, after an impressive showing last time out where he claimed a race win and a third place, in addition to the fastest lap in round one.
One of the true stars of the opening weekend was privateer runner Paul Streather (Hinckley) who delivered a sensational performance on his Renault Clio debut. Finishing runner-up in round one, sixth place in race two enabled the rookie to end his maiden event second in the championship.
Third in the driver standings is SV Racing’s Sam Randon (Ashbourne) who, like Streather, climbed the podium on his first weekend in the Race Series. Graduating this year from the Road Series, where he was a double race winner in 2013, Randon has made a strong start to his first year in a thoroughbred third generation racing Clio.
Completing the championship top six are 20Ten Racing’s Brett Lidsey (Dartford), who is just a single point behind Randon, Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Surbiton), who won round two after a driveshaft failure eliminated him before the start of race one, and Lidsey’s 20Ten Racing team-mate Tom Butler (Allestree) who was another to enjoy a superb category debut at Rockingham.
For the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series’ first event with standalone races, the entry has been boosted with the addition of newcomer John Creasey (Lincoln) and the return of SWB Motorsport with a race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 for racing mum Jodie Hemming (Burton-on-Trent).
Bodyshop owner Creasey, who is entering a privately run car under his company’s Paint Perfect Motorsport banner, officially launched his graduation from trackday enthusiast to fully-fledged racing driver at Blyton Park last week. Ahead of Saturday’s race debut, Creasey said: “During testing the car has performed faultlessly, I’m looking forward to lining up on the grid at Oulton.”
Mother of two Jodie will make a long-awaited return to racing after six seasons away from full-time competition, making the switch from single-seaters to saloon cars. Having previously won titles in Formula Jedi before graduating into Formula Renault UK and, latterly, the EuroBOSS category at the wheel of a Jordan Formula One car, the 28-year-old is delighted to be back on a motorsport grid.
Second year Michelin Clio Cup Road Series racer Jake Honour (Devizes) produced a near-perfect weekend at Rockingham in April with a double pole position, two superb race victories and the fastest lap in round two. He will arrive at Oulton Park eight points clear of Westbourne Motorsport’s Anton Spires (Milton Keynes), who was runner-up in each of the Rockingham encounters.
Privateer Nic Harrison (Stretton, Burton-on-Trent) achieved a double podium finish on his debut last month and is third in the championship as a result, ahead of Sarah Franklin (Kettering) and rally driver Luke Pinder (Shipley).
Michelin Clio Cup Race Series qualifying will take place at 09.00 on Saturday, 17th May, with round three following at 11.30 and round four getting underway at 15.10. Qualifying for the Road Series will begin at 10.00 with the two races scheduled for 12.40 and 16.20.
Michelin Clio Cup