CLIO VETERAN UNABLE TO REIGN IN NEWSHAM AT CROFT Not even the return of double champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) could stop Dave Newsham's (Inverness) dominance of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin championship as the Team Pyro racer ...
CLIO VETERAN UNABLE TO REIGN IN NEWSHAM AT CROFT
Not even the return of double champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) could stop Dave Newsham's (Inverness) dominance of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin championship as the Team Pyro racer claimed another double victory during rounds nine and 10 at Croft circuit on 19th/20th June.
The 42-year-old has now made up eight wins from 10 races so far this season, all lights-to-flag, together with 10 poles from 10 rounds to lead by a sizeable 81-point margin. Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Rivett, returning to the series after an absence of more than one and a half years, did secure a podium though on his first outing with second in round nine while Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) enjoyed a double podium at his home track with two third places.
The final podium spot went to JHR Developments' Lee Pattison (Liversedge), also on home soil, with second during round 10 which was broadcast live on ITV4.
Newsham and Tordoff also picked up the NGK Masters Cup and Graduate Cup class wins during the weekend as the one-make series reached its halfway point.
Despite still holding the Croft lap record coming into this weekend, Rivett couldn't dent Newsham's unbeaten pole record during Saturday's qualifying session with the Scot making it 10 poles from 10 rounds.
Newsham therefore lined up on the start grid for round 10 in his usual P1 spot with Total Control Racing's Mike Robinson (Surbiton), who has a good track record at the 2.125-mile North Yorkshire circuit, alongside him on the front row. Pattison and Tordoff lined up on row two following the 30 minute qualifying session which saw the top drivers hitting 110mph through the speed trap. Although qualifying 10th, Total Control Racing's James Dixon (Stockbury) was demoted two places on the grid after being handed two penalty points in the weekend's earlier round nine.
As the red lights went out on the gantry for the start of the 12-lap race it was Robinson who actually made the best start but with the inside line Newsham was just able to hold onto the lead as they emerged from Clervaux despite running wide. Pattison was up to second with Tordoff in third and Robinson losing out in fourth.
Not all the field had safely navigated the tight first-corner however with contact between Westbourne Motorsport's James Colburn (Worthing) and Elite Motorsport's Jake Packun (Bolton) causing the Megane Renaultsport 250 Safety Car to be deployed. The opening lap also saw Rivett pick up a puncture dropping him to the back of the field.
It didn't take long for racing to resume with Newsham -- who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Meeting -- getting a clean restart to lead once more with the race distance extended by one lap. The restart also allowed JHR Developments' Fulvio Mussi (Abberton), who was awarded the Michelin tyre bonus for the meeting, to have a look at passing Jeff Smith's (Wellingborough) Team Pyro car at Tower Bend before eventually getting the better of the 44-year-old at Clervaux on lap six to move into fifth.
As the race settled down Newsham was still pushing developing nearly a two second lead and setting the NGK fastest lap of the race. Pattison and Tordoff were also running well but neither were able to match the former Legends racer for outright pace.
In the closing stages Mussi was now starting to catch Robinson while Dixon had been able to work his way from the rear of the grid to lie in seventh with Westbourne Motorsport's Patrick Collins (Spaldwick) in eighth after team-mate Rob Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) had to pit with tyre damage.
Through the complex for the last time Newsham, as he has been all weekend, looked faultless and rounded the first gear Hairpin cleanly to power across the finish line for win number eight as well as the NGK Masters Cup honours. Pattison, still the only man to beat Newsham, settled for second with Tordoff rounding off the podium honours along with the Graduate Cup class win. Robinson finished fourth with Mussi rounding off the top five although a post race investigation by the Clerk of the Course saw Fulvio handed a two point penalty for contact on the opening lap which will mean the 24-year-old also takes a two place grid penalty at the next race at Snetterton.
Saturday's round nine saw Newsham taking the Michelin pole position honours with a new face to his left in the form of returning driver Rivett. TCR team-mates Tordoff and Robinson dominated row two with an all JHR Developments row three with Mussi and Pattison.
As the race got underway it was Newsham who made the better get away from a slow starting Rivett allowing Tordoff to sneak into second with Rivett in third. The opening lap also saw Mussi dart up the inside of Robinson at the Hairpin to move into fourth with Smith also gaining places to lie in seventh. The next lap Pattison tried a similar move to Mussi's on Robinson but the 27-year-old was wise to the danger and duly closed the door.
The early stages saw Tordoff having to defend fiercely from the challenges of Rivett but Sam eventually found a good rhythm and began to edge away from the two-time (2002, 2004) champion. Newsham too was beginning to pull away developing a lead of more than a second with another faultless display of car control.
Just past half distance and Tordoff was once more having his mirrors filled with the Clio of Rivett forcing the 21-year-old to defend rather than attacking Newsham's lead. Fourth-place Mussi was also sensing an opportunity as he closed in on Tordoff and Rivett ahead creating a three-car-train.
With one lap to go the top positions looked set in stone but, as is so often the way in the Clio Cup, there was still plenty of racing to be done. In the battle for second, Rivett got a good exit out of Tower Bend allowing him to draw alongside Tordoff and squeeze past him up to the Jim Clarke Esses. Tordoff was forced to yield handing the place to Rivett who had earlier set the NGK fastest lap of the race and beating his own lap record with a 1min 32.038s (83.11mph).
No one was challenging Newsham however who crossed the line to take another win in the series along with the NGK Masters Cup honours. Rivett crossed the line just a fraction ahead of Tordoff with Sam in third and also securing the Graduate Cup honours. Mussi finished fourth with Robinson in fifth.
Commenting on his impeccable weekend Newsham said: "In round nine I got a good start and Paul didn't which helped me and then I was able to put in consistent lap times. The cooler temperatures helped too as well as not making any mistakes. Round 10 was definitely harder though with Mike making a better start than me and Lee running wide but I managed to hang onto the lead and after that it was just a case of settling into my stride."
Returning champion Rivett, who finished second in round nine, said: "I got a poor start to drop to third but then on the last lap I got a good exit out of Tower and knew it was now or never to try and pass Sam. I got up the inside and I knew the track is wide enough along the straight to run side-by-side and so I was able to get by. It's great to be back racing again and thanks to my sponsors Blue Square Data for making this possible."
Commenting on his second place in round 10 Pattison said: "I nearly had Dave at the first corner but he carried the better momentum to edge out in front. After lap four my oil pressure warning light came on so I tried short shifting to help ease it which meant I wasn't able to push as hard as I would have liked."
Double third place Tordoff added: "I thought I defended enough through Tower in round nine but Paul just crept through. In round 10 I kept Lee and Dave honest but there was no way I was going to pass them -- they are both fantastic drivers in very quick cars. I had good pace all weekend and collected more points so pleased with how things have gone."
Rounds 11 and 12 of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Norfolk's Snetterton circuit on 7th/8th August.
-source: renault sport uk