UK: Series Rockingham summary

NEWSHAM DOMINATES WITH ROCKINGHAM DOUBLE Team Pyro's Dave Newsham (Inverness) continued his title charge in fine form by taking two lights-to-flag victories during rounds three and four of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin ...

NEWSHAM DOMINATES WITH ROCKINGHAM DOUBLE

Team Pyro's Dave Newsham (Inverness) continued his title charge in fine form by taking two lights-to-flag victories during rounds three and four of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Northamptonshire's Rockingham circuit on 24th/25th April. The 43-year-old former Legends racer has now made it three wins from four races to lead the drivers' standings by a margin of 24-points.

Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) meanwhile endured mixed fortunes with a second place in round three only to retire in the following round while 27-year-old team-mate Mike Robinson (Surbiton, Surrey) made a welcome return to form with a third and second during the action-packed weekend.

The final podium spot went to the championship's youngest competitor James Colburn (Worthing) after securing third in his Westbourne Motorsport run car during round four -- a career best for the 17-year-old.

Newsham's double win also secured him the NGK Masters Cup honours while Tordoff and Colburn shared the Graduate Cup spoils.

No-stopping Newsham...

A packed Rockingham crowd waited in anticipation for the start of Sunday's round four which saw Newsham once again lining the gird as the Michelin pole-sitter, his fourth consecutive P1 spot. To his right lay Tordoff while Robinson and Colburn sat lurking on row two waiting for the lights to go out for the start of the 14-lap race.

When they did it was Newsham who made the best start to lead the field into the tight Deene Hairpin with Tordoff struggling off the line with a clutch problem leaving Robinson to move into second. JHR Development's Fulvio Mussi (Abberton, Essex) had also been able to make up several places from eighth on the grid to lie fourth just behind Colburn in third.

Keen to make up for his poor start, Tordoff attempted to make up places on the opening lap but suffered damage after trying to squeeze through a gap which in his words, "wasn't there" forcing the 21-year-old to retire. The early stages also saw Team Pyro's Jack Goff (High Wycombe) and JHR Development's Lee Pattison (Liversedge) run nose-to-tail in the battle for fifth and sixth with the more experienced Pattison eventually getting the better of the 19-year-old rookie.

With a clear track Newsham began to open up a lead while Robinson was starting to be caught by the chasing pair of Colburn and Mussi who in turn were battling for position. Then as the race reached the halfway point Newsham clipped the curb damaging his exhaust and leading to a slight loss of power and what Newsham would later reveal as a: "surge in temperature and fumes in the cockpit." Consequently his lead was soon cut to just a few hundredths of a second as the Scotsman battled to maintain his lap times around the 1.94-mile International circuit.

Just behind Pattison was now also close enough to challenge Mussi for fourth with the 35-year-old finding a way through at Pif-Paf dropping Fulvio into the clutches of Team Pyro's Smith (Wellingborough) who was now in sixth after getting the better of Goff at Deene.

All eyes were now on Newsham though who was desperately trying to hold onto his lead for the remaining few laps. Despite Robinson's best efforts he did just that crossing the line to take his second win of the weekend along with the NGK Masters Cup trophy. Robinson crossed the line in second with Colburn in third marking his first visit to the podium and also securing the Graduate Cup win as well as being awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Event award. Pattison, who also secured the NGK fastest lap of the race with a 1min 31.009s (76.73mph average), and Mussi came home to round off the top five and end another thrilling weekend of Clio Cup racing.

Lights-to-flag for Newsham...

Saturday's round three saw Newsham head the field as the Michelin pole-sitter with Tordoff alongside him and Colburn and Robinson just behind on row two. As the lights went out it was Newsham who made the best start to lead followed by Tordoff and Pattison who had shot up into third.

The tight Deene Hairpin saw all the field jostle for position with Mussi, who had started seventh, squeezing his way through to exit in a remarkable second place. Colburn was also moving places but this time down to lie in seventh by the end of the opening lap.

Places were also changing hands the next lap this time at the expense of series newcomer Total Control Racing's James Dixon (Stockbury, Kent) as the front three of Newsham, Mussi and Tordoff began to edge away. The opening stages also saw fifth place Pattison all over the back of Robinson's car ahead while just behind a great battle was taking place in the midfield with Colburn leading a four-car-train.

As the race entered the halfway stage though everything was about to change. Mussi got out of shape exiting the Brook chicane allowing Tordoff to get a good run and go side-by-side across the line. Having the inside line for the next corner, Tordoff took the place but Mussi was not about to give up and tried to outbrake the Leeds racer around the outside of Deene. The move didn't stick as Mussi carried too much speed in and overshot the corner resulting in several places lost. This meant Tordoff was now clear to chase down Newsham's lead with Robinson promoted to third place although still fending off the challenges of Pattison who was now in fourth.

As the laps counting down, Tordoff began to reel in Newsham whose tyres were now starting to fade with Sam also setting the NGK fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile in the midfield Colburn and Elite Motorsport's Jake Packun (Bolton) were battling hard for position with Packun eventually losing out and dropping a couple of places. Dixon had also lost a few more places as the race neared its full distance.

By the final lap Tordoff had now closed the gap to just 0.913s -- shaving more than a second off Newsham's lead -- but the Inverness driver did enough to hang on and cross the line to take the win along with the NGK Masters Cup honours. Tordoff crossed the line a mere 0.674s later in second to also secure the Graduate Cup honours with Robinson in third, his first podium since Oulton Park last year, and Pattison in fourth. Colburn rounded off the top five although it could have been any number of the chasing pack behind.

A post race investigation by the Clerk of the Course saw Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Matthew Munson (Burnham) handed a time penalty dropping him one place to 15th and promoting 20Ten Racing's Graham Mulholland (Derby) -- one of three newcomers along with Dixon and Total Control Racing's Alistair Barclay (London) -- to 14th.

Commenting on his performance Newsham said: "It's been a great weekend for me and I'd like to thank the team and my sponsors. I got a good start in race one and developed an early lead but it wasn't long before I noticed Tordoff in my mirrors. I could see he was catching but I knew if I kept hitting my apexes I would be ok. Race two seemed to be going fine until I damaged my exhaust but I just about clung on despite the heat and fumes in the cockpit!"

Commenting on his return to form, double podium winner Robinson said: "I'm really pleased with both my podiums as the one in round three is my first since Oulton Park last year. Pattison was all over the back of me for most of the first race but I managed to hold him off. In race two I thought I might be able to catch Newsham but when I did get close enough my tyres started to fade."

Second-place in round three Tordoff said: "Fulvio made a mistake which allowed me through and then I kept reeling in Newsham ahead but it wasn't to be. Had it been a longer race I might have got him though. After my poor start in round four I tried to make amends but it wasn't to be."

Speaking after his maiden Clio Cup podium Colburn said: "It's been a long time coming but I'm delighted with the podium and it's given me a much needed championship boost."

Rounds five and six of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Kent's Brands Hatch GP circuit on 1st/2nd May.

-source: renaultsport.co.uk

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Series General
Drivers Sam Tordoff , Dave Newsham