SUPERB DOUBLE PODIUM AND DEBUT POLE FOR DIXON AT SNETTERTON Total Control Racing's James Dixon delivered a tremendous career-best performance at Snetterton in Norfolk over the weekend, 7th/8th August, to not only secure his first ELF Renault...
SUPERB DOUBLE PODIUM AND DEBUT POLE FOR DIXON AT SNETTERTON
Total Control Racing's James Dixon delivered a tremendous career-best performance at Snetterton in Norfolk over the weekend, 7th/8th August, to not only secure his first ELF Renault Clio Cup pole position but also race to a pair of superb runner-up spots in rounds 11 and 12 of the year.
Such was the 20-year-old saloon car rookie's level of performance his results have lifted him into the coveted top 10 in the driver standings -- an excellent effort considering he has only contested eight of the 12 races so far.
"I'm over the moon, I can't believe it!", said an ecstatic James, "This weekend everything has come together, we were fast in the official test a few weeks back and then it all went well here from the off in practice on Friday. To take my first pole position was a fantastic feeling and to be on the front row for the second race as well was great.
"Taking two podiums away from the weekend was more than I could have hoped for coming into the event and it's given me much more confidence now heading into the rest of the season. We're never going to catch the front guys in the championship because we missed a few rounds but my aim is to keep scoring these podiums, rack up as many points as we can, and challenge for my first win."
Impressing from the off during pre-event practice on Friday, the Stockbury-based racer headed into qualifying on Saturday morning aiming for a spot on the first couple of rows of the grid but he exceeded all expectation by taking pole for round 11 with a time of 1m17.948 seconds (90.15mph).
In doing so, he also became the first driver this season to prevent runaway championship leader Dave Newsham from sealing the top spot -- ending his run of 10 straight pole starts. In addition, James' second best lap gave him second on the grid for round 12 alongside team-mate Sam Tordoff.
Ahead of the opening encounter on Saturday afternoon, rain began to fall at the East Anglian track meaning James would have his work cut-out having never piloted a front-wheel drive race car in the wet before.
Making a terrific start in very tricky conditions, the ABP Heating and Weidmuller-backed driver held on to first place and looked assured but Newsham's greater experience paid dividends as he found the limit of adhesion a little quicker, enabling him to pass James into the chicane.
Heading into lap two tight behind Newsham, the single-seater convert remained in close quarters and only from mid-distance on was the series leader able to build a gap. Coming under increasing pressure from third placed Tordoff as the race wore on, James produced a sterling drive to finish in second and record his maiden Clio Cup podium. The result also meant he won the Graduate Class.
Starting on the front row for the televised bone dry second race on Sunday, James again got away well to shadow pole-sitter Tordoff and although third placed Newsham applied mounting pressure throughout he couldn't find a chink in the Kent driver's armour.
Maintaining his own pressure on Tordoff while also working incredibly hard to make sure Newsham had no opportunities to try and make a move, James remained in second place for the duration of the 16-lapper and doubled his podium tally with another superb performance -- finishing just 0.9 seconds behind his team-mate and a mere 0.274 seconds clear of Newsham.
Having proven his pace and stellar race craft against vastly more experienced opposition, James now plans to continue his excellent maiden season of 'tin-top' saloon car action with further success at Silverstone National Circuit a fortnight from now. To keep his momentum rolling though, he needs to secure additional investment and backing.
He commented: "Budget is an issue for us, we need to find more money to keep things moving. If we can keep things going this season though and have more success, it'll give us a good base to start from to try and come back into Clios next year and push for the championship. This weekend has been incredible but the really hard work is to find the sponsorship we need."
Northamptonshire's Silverstone National Circuit will host the next instalment of the ELF Renault Clio Cup, rounds 13 and 14, two weeks from now over the weekend 21st/22nd August.