DETERMINED LLOYD ENDS SEASON WITHIN A WHISKER OF SERIES TOP 10 ELF Renault Clio Cup star Daniel Lloyd ended his rookie campaign in the hugely competitive British Touring Car Championship-supporting category a mere four points shy of the coveted...
DETERMINED LLOYD ENDS SEASON WITHIN A WHISKER OF SERIES TOP 10
ELF Renault Clio Cup star Daniel Lloyd ended his rookie campaign in the hugely competitive British Touring Car Championship-supporting category a mere four points shy of the coveted top 10 at Brands Hatch on Sunday, 4th October, following a determined drive during the final race of the year.
Visiting the Kent venue's full 2.3-mile Grand Prix track for the first time this weekend, the 17-year-old headed into the season finale hopeful of a championship-best result having led a Clio Cup race for the first time at Rockingham a fortnight ago.
While a tricky qualifying session on Saturday morning -- in which he was unable to get a single clear lap -- made the task in hand incredibly difficult, a superb drive from 12th on the grid in round 19 came to nothing at Druids Hairpin on lap 11 when contact from Aron Smith pitched Daniel into an immediate retirement in the gravel. The Irishman was later docked two championship points by race officials.
Fighting over sixth position with Total Control Racing team-mate Sam Tordoff and Smith, Scammonden based Daniel was well placed to usurp Carl Bradley in the title race and also remain ahead of James Colburn in terms of points but the non-finish, only his third of the season, compromised his chances.
Sunday's final race of the season, round 20, provided an even sterner test for the former Ginetta Junior race winner with an under-steering car and an uncharacteristically low grid position making life very difficult indeed. Nonetheless, Daniel performed well with a determined performance to finish in seventh place, just 0.6 seconds behind Robert Gaffney.
Lining up 15th on the grid, the young West Yorkshireman made a great start and gained a lot of ground early on to move into ninth place on the opening lap -- a stunning effort. Luckily for him too, his good beginning to the race meant he was able to avoid a multi-car tangle a little further behind at Surtees.
Following a three lap Safety Car period, the race resumed and Daniel gained another position when Tordoff was forced to pit with a mechanical problem. Struggling with major under-steer, especially at important left-hand corners such as Graham Hill Bend, Daniel worked wonders to pressurise the cars ahead and gained one final place on lap 11 following a retirement for Andrew Herron.
Although disappointed to end the season with a problematic race meeting, the championship rookie has certainly impressed in his debut season and TCR team boss Lee Brookes is convinced Daniel has what it takes to be a major contender for title honours in 2010.
Reflecting on the weekend and his first season of Clio racing, Daniel said: "It's been a shame we've had to end the year on a bit of a downer but even with the problems with the car we still managed to pressurise the drivers ahead so I've no doubt, with everything working well, we could have taken a top five pretty easily.
"It's a disappointing way to finish my first season in Clios but it's been a good year and I've learnt a lot, especially since we joined TCR a few events into the championship. We've had our ups and downs but we have taken some good results. Hopefully we can raise the budget we need for next year to come back and fight for podiums, race wins and maybe even the championship."
Now the hunt is on for more sponsors and commercial partners to become involved in Daniel's bid for the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup title. With an impressive debut season under his belt against some very experienced saloon car competitors, the Propack-supported driver is keen to add to his portfolio of backers for next year to give him the best chance possible of fighting for his first car racing crown.
For more information about how to become involved, please visit www.daniellloydracing.com
Final 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup Standings: Champion: Philip Glew, 563pts; 2nd Alex MacDowall, 445pts; 11th Daniel Lloyd, 215pts