BRANDS HATCH: Round two race report

WINROW WINS TO TAKE JOINT CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Team Pyro's Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) won round two of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup with a light-to-flag victory at Brands Hatch Indy circuit on Sunday, 30th March. Starting from pole position, ...

WINROW WINS TO TAKE JOINT CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD

Team Pyro's Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) won round two of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup with a light-to-flag victory at Brands Hatch Indy circuit on Sunday, 30th March. Starting from pole position, the 22-year-old made a great start and held off round one winner Paul Rivett (Banstead) for the win. Y4HR Miracle Drywash Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Niki Lanik (Ashurst Wood) completed the podium line-up.

The race was broadcast live on ITV4 as part of the channel's British Touring Car Championship coverage. A packed grid of 28 Clio Cup race cars thrilled the thousands in attendance and those watching live on television with an action-packed race that saw great duels throughout the whole field.

Having secured pole position for both races and finished second in Saturday's round one, Winrow was determined to end the weekend with a victory and made a blistering start to lead by almost one second at the end of lap one. JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing's Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) made the best getaway among the front-runners to surge from eighth to fourth behind Lanik, while further down the order, Team Wood Racing's Lea Wood (Hereford) made up five places on lap one to lie 15th and overtook at regular intervals during the race to finish 12th.

Winrow and Rivett were able to break away from Lanik who was being chased hard by Pierce, the Scot just unable to make the most of a slip by the Austrian in the early running. Lanik then pulled away to open a one-second advantage by lap seven that he was able to hold throughout. In front, Winrow had a similar gap to Rivett with each driver faster through opposite halves of the lap to maintain a steady gap.

Lap six saw Mardi Gras Motorsport's Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) pass team-mate Aron Smith (Rathfarnham) for fifth place, the Irishman then losing out to Full Speed Racing's Phil Glew (Tothill) on the following lap. Smith had a handling problem as a result of earlier contact and now came under severe pressure from Total Control Racing's Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) as the quartet grouped together.

In midfield, Lea Wood passed JHR Developments' Richard Cannon (Chesterfield) after he ran wide out of Graham Hill Bend, while TCR's Mike Robinson (Effingham) passed Team Valtra's Peter Felix (Allestree) for 11th place.

At the halfway stage of the 20-lap race, Winrow's lead had been narrowed to six-tenths of a second with Lanik and Pierce holding station behind. Pyper slid wide at Graham Hill Bend allowing Glew to close up but not pass. At Druids Hairpin, Full Speed's Glenn Bell (Portadown) clipped the rear of JHR racer Mark Hazell (Llanhennock), Bell ending his race in the gravel trap.

As the race entered its second half, Rivett closed the gap further to Winrow before the leader responded to build a cushion by lap 15. Further down the order, EPS UK with Solutions Racing's Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) passed APO Sport's Alex Osborne (Northampton) for 20th place.

The closest battle on track continued to be that of Smith vs MacDowall with the Irish 18-year-old driving superbly to repel the 17-year-old's challenge, both youngsters showing excellent skills in a tussle that enthralled the crowd. MacDowall attempted to pass round the outside at Druids, while Smith locked his brakes at McLaren on successive laps but held on to the place. Finally MacDowall did manage to pass to collect 18 points for sixth place in addition to two bonus points for setting the THB Clowes fastest lap on lap six of 53.143s (81.19mph), which is a new lap record.

On the penultimate lap, Glew once again challenged for Pyper's fifth place but ran wide on the exit of Graham Hill Bend. As Glew attempted to rejoin the circuit there was contact between the two resulting in Pyper hitting the tyre barrier on Cooper Straight with some force. The Clerk of the Course deployed the red flag to end the race with the result taken from the end of lap 18. Winrow's winning margin was 0.760s with Lanik almost five seconds further back in third place.

Commenting on his race win, Ben Winrow said: "My plan was to go for it in the first few laps and really stamp my authority on the race. I've had the pace in the car all weekend, had two pole positions and knew I'd be able to keep consistent lap times if I broke free. It's great to be leading the championship and I go to Rockingham full of confidence."

Second placed Paul Rivett said: "Ben was right on the limit on the first lap and I wondered if he'd gone too hard but fair play to him he drove a great race. I was slightly off his pace on a couple of corners so there's some work to do but I'm definitely happy with two podiums on the first weekend."

Third placed Niki Lanik, celebrating his first podium in the summer championship after two Clio Winter Cup titles, said: "I'm really happy to get this podium and it's great for me and my team. I've learned a lot in Clio Cup racing in the last two years, especially about being consistent. That was important today because Derek Pierce pressured me early on but I kept my concentration and got a good haul of points."

-credit: renaultsport.co.uk

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