SEASON'S SECOND DOUBLE FOR DOMINANT WINROW Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) completed a double victory at Snetterton by winning round 14 of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup. It is the second time the championship leader has won both races at a single...
SEASON'S SECOND DOUBLE FOR DOMINANT WINROW
Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) completed a double victory at Snetterton by winning round 14 of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup. It is the second time the championship leader has won both races at a single event and gives him a commanding 87-point lead with just six races left. EPS UK with Robertshaw Racing's Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) had his best result of the season in second with JHR Developments' Steven Hunter (Dronfield) in third, his third podium from six race starts.
The race began in familiar fashion with Winrow leading away from his 13th pole position of the season, although Robertshaw Racing's Matt Allison (Norwich) was right on his rear bumper. However, Allison was adjudged to have made a false start and incurred a Drive Through Penalty that dropped him to 18th when he served it on lap three.
Gaffney inherited second position ahead of Hunter, followed by Total Control Racing's Alex MacDowall and Full Speed Racing's Phil Glew (Alford) who had got past TCR's Fulvio Mussi (Colchester) off the line. Double Six Racing's Rob Boston (Doncaster) gained four places on the opening lap to lie eighth, a tap with JHR's Paul Rivett (Banstead) relegating the double former champion to 11th and leaving both with slightly damaged steering.
Rivett regained one place at the Esses on the following lap, TCR's Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple) and Mardi Gras Motorsport's Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) following him past P9 Raceshop/Range Storage's Lee Pattison (Liversedge). Further down the order, APO Sport's Alex Osborne (Northampton) and Coastal Racing's Stephen Tyldsley (Guiseley) passed Team Pyro's Chris Rice (Beverley) across the finish line, Rice then retiring at the Esses after contact with Team Wood Racing's Lea Wood (Hereford), who received a two-point penalty for his part in the incident.
With Hunter keeping the pressure on Gaffney, when Allison served his Drive Through it left Winrow with a 2.2s lead at the end of lap three. Mussi had a look up the inside at the Esses in an attempt to pass Glew, while Tyldsley passed Osborne for 16th at the same chicane. Boston, TCR's Mike Robinson (Effingham) and Rivett ran almost three-wide down the 120mph Revett Straight, Boston maintaining seventh at the head of the trio.
Allison was attempting to make up his lost ground but contact with JHR's Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) at Russell Chicane saw him fall back to 22nd. On lap six, Rivett's already damaged steering finally gave out as he rode the kerbs at the Esses, leaving him stranded in the middle of the track and necessitating the Safety Car to enable recovery of his stricken car.
Racing resumed on lap 10 and Hunter redoubled his efforts to take second place from Gaffney, but the 18-year-old held firm and also kept Winrow within reach. Pattison overtook Pyper to break into the top 10, while Osborne's car, damaged in an accident in round 13, began to cause problems and he dropped out of the midfield tussle.
With the field bunched after the Safety Car, Allison was able to pick up places regularly and set the fastest lap to that point on lap 12 as he ran in 16th place. Gaffney also posted his personal best lap time to edge away from Hunter, who was now defending from MacDowall as the race for podium places intensified.
On lap 14, Glew entered the lead battle by passing MacDowall at the Bomb Hole and then defended into Russell chicane as MacDowall tried to fight back. Allison's charge continued as he passed Solutions Racing with Dewsport's Alex Dew (Bampton) and Coastal Racing's Carl Bradley (Morecambe) to take 13th place. He then posted the NGK fastest lap of the race and a new lap record of 1min 17.975s (90.12mph) as he finished in 12th place.
On the last lap, Winrow almost lost concentration and ran wide through Riches to kick up the dust on the outside of the track. Behind him in second, Gaffney did the same thing allowing Hunter to close right up but Gaffney was determined to cling on to the position and held on by two-tenths of a second as they crossed the line.
For Winrow it was an eighth victory and with Rivett not finishing he now has breathing space at the top of the drivers' standings having never finished outside the top two on the road. Commenting on the race, a jubilant Winrow said: "What a great end to a great weekend. I was quickest in testing, got two pole positions and two wins. I had fastest lap yesterday but not today -- that's the only disappointment! As ever the team did a fantastic job and put in as much effort as they always do for me."
Second-placed Gaffney, celebrating his first podium since round five, said: "I was gutted not to get a podium yesterday and come fourth but this has made up for it. The car's been mega all weekend and the boys at Robertshaw have done a really good job. It was a really tough race because Steven was right on me the whole time but I tried to keep my concentration and it's paid off."
Third-placed Steven Hunter said: "I hadn't planned to race this weekend but Mark Hazell couldn't make it so I stepped in and really enjoyed it again. I tried to make up places early on in the race but with the Safety Car coming out the real race was at the end not the beginning so I struggled a bit and couldn't quite get to the front. Great fun as ever though and I'm happy to be on the podium."