Brands Hatch: Round one race report

RIVETT OVERCOMES TRICKY CONDITIONS TO WIN ROUND ONE Double former champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) won round one of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup in difficult damp conditions at Brands Hatch Indy on Saturday, 29th March. The JHR Developments...


Double former champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) won round one of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup in difficult damp conditions at Brands Hatch Indy on Saturday, 29th March. The JHR Developments racer, champion in 2002 and 2004, led home Team Pyro's Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) and Full Speed Racing's Phil Glew (Tothill) in a rain-affected race that saw two Safety Car periods.

With a dry line on track but light drizzle falling, the circuit became more slippery as the 20-lap race went on and drivers were punished by a complete loss of grip when off the racing line. The majority started on slick tyres, which were given no time to heat up when the Safety Car was deployed on lap two.

The race start saw pole-sitter Winrow lead away from Rivett. Mardi Gras Motorsport's Aron Smith (Rathfarnham) moved to the outside as JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing's Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) and Glew covered the inside line but was unable to pass through Paddock Hill Bend. Rivett was able to hold the inside line on the run up to Druids Hairpin to take the lead.

Further down the field, Mardi Gras' David Dickensen (Keatingstown) made up eight places on the opening lap to lie eighth. Meanwhile, APO Sport's Alex Osborne (Northampton) retired from the race after contact with another car, while P9 Raceshop/Range Storage's Lee Pattison (Liversedge) and Total Control Racing's Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple) also failed to complete one lap. Team Pyro's Chris Rice (Beverley) had retired on the Green Flag Lap with an engine-related problem.

At the restart on lap six and with the race now extended to 23 laps, Mardi Gras Motorsport's Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) in third place ran wide and was passed by Glew, Pierce, Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood) and Smith. Just behind, ninth-placed David Shepherd (Sandbach) of Amery Motorsport hit the barrier at Paddock Hill Bend necessitating another Safety Car period.

Team Pyro's Chris Law (Guernsey) took advantage of the full-course yellow flags to change to wet weather rear tyres. The race restarted on lap 12 and although Law was initially able to lap at least one-second faster than the leaders, he was somewhat stranded down in 18th place having rejoined the circuit behind the main train of cars.

When racing resumed, the top four cars were able to open a slight advantage over the group led by fifth-placed Aron Smith. On lap 15, Pyper passed his team-mate Dickensen with a brave move up the inside at Paddock Hill Bend. In midfield, Solutions Racing with Dewsport's Alex Dew (Bamton) passed Double Six Racing's Rob Boston (Doncaster), while Team Wood Racing's Lea Wood (Hereford) overtook the sliding Chris Panayiotou (Cheshunt) of Full Speed Racing.

On lap 16, fourth-placed Derek Pierce made a bid for the final podium spot. He drafted behind Glew along the start/finish straight, holding a tight line through Paddock to pass on the run up to Druids Hairpin. On the run down to Graham Hill Bend, Glew braked later as he attempted to re-pass giving Pierce a nudge that sent him into an unavoidable slide that the Scot did well to recover. His joy was short-lived as both he and Lanik spun at Surtees as conditions became ever more difficult, but Pierce did claim two points for setting the THB Clowes Fastest Lap.

The action for third place allowed the front two of Rivett and Winrow, who were doing well to judge braking points in the changing conditions, to pull away. Winrow was never more than one second behind the leader and often closer, but equally was unable to risk an overtaking move given the damp circuit.

As the race entered the final few laps, a spin for Panayiotou at Surtees resulted in a heavy impact with the barrier. With not enough time to recover the car and resume racing, the Clerk of the Course deployed the red flag to end the race with the result taken from the end of lap 17.

Commenting on his victory, Paul Rivett, who is starting a full season of Clio Cup racing after only being able to contest four races in 2007, said: "I think everyone who finished did well to keep the car on the circuit in those conditions. My experience definitely helped me judge where to brake but it was still very difficult to know how hard to push. It's a great way to start the year and hopefully it's the first of many wins!"

Second-placed Ben Winrow said: "It was a tough afternoon because it looked like being dry conditions but the drizzle was pretty consistent. I didn't envy Paul being the lead driver and I was happy to wait in second place in case of an error and collect a podium finish. It's a good result to start the season and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race."

Third-placed Phil Glew said: "What a great way to start my Clio Cup career! I think that's the hardest race I've ever done in terms of the conditions and I feel as though I was on the pace. The morning qualifying session was my first time on new slick tyres so it was a case of 'in at the deep end'. I'm delighted to be on the podium and hope I can add another good result in round two."

Round two is scheduled for 13.30 on Sunday, 30th March and is scheduled to be shown live on ITV4's coverage of the British Touring Car Championship raceday.


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Series General
Drivers David Shep , Gavin Pyper , Graham Hill , Paul Rivet , Niki Lanik , Lea Wood , Aron Taylor-Smith , Alex Osborne