HODGETTS TAKES DOUBLE AT MEMORABLE WORLD SERIES WEEKEND Mardi Gras Motorsport's Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) produced two superb drives in front of a record breaking World Series crowd to secure a double victory during two action-packed rounds...
HODGETTS TAKES DOUBLE AT MEMORABLE WORLD SERIES WEEKEND
Mardi Gras Motorsport's Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) produced two superb drives in front of a record breaking World Series crowd to secure a double victory during two action-packed rounds (11 and 12) of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Silverstone Grand Prix circuit on 4th/5th July.
A total crowd of 135,000 attended Renault's free two-day motorsport festival with 85,000 spectators -- the highest ever at a Clio Cup meeting -- turning out on Sunday to watch the 2007 Clio Cup runner-up take a clean sweep of the honours.
Championship leader Team Pyro's Phil Glew (Tothill, Lincolnshire) picked up a podium and a sixth place to continue his reign at the top and stretch his lead over Total Control Racing's Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) -- who endured a disastrous weekend -- to 79-points. There were also podiums for DTR's Stephen Tyldsley (Guiseley), his first of the season, with a sublime drive in round 11 to take third along with JHR Development's Andrew Herron (Co. Down) and Amery Motorsport's Dave Newsham (Inverness) who finished second and third respectively in round 12.
The weekend was also the inaugural outing for the new Clio Cup race car which is based on the road-going Clio Renaultsport 200 and features an upgraded bodykit and new wishbone design.
Hodgetts secures double...
In front of a packed World Series crowd, Michelin pole-sitter MacDowall led the 24-car field onto the grid for the start of round 12. Alongside Alex sat Glew, still yet to start a race away from the front row, with 27-year-old Hodgetts in third. Reigning Clio Cup Champion Ben Winrow (Northampton) -- racing on his local circuit for Team Pyro -- qualified in sixth after choosing to return to the one-make series.
Hodgetts made a lightning start to shoot straight into the lead with Glew just holding onto second with Herron in third as MacDowall was bumped down the order. The opening lap saw a determined Glew try several times to grab the lead from Hodgetts with the two drivers nose to tail but Phil was unable to find a way through.
Meanwhile, by the end of the first lap Newsham was making strong progress after moving up to fifth from eighth on the gird and now chasing the back of Winrow's Clio which in turn was right up with the back of Herron's car.
On lap three, Hodgetts missed a gear at Vale which forced Glew to make slight contact with the back of his car, losing momentum and allowing Herron and Newsham to slip by. Winrow was also forced wide in the process as Glew tried to recover. The next lap also saw Tyldsley and Westborne Motorsport with Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's James Colburn (Worthing) get ahead of the championship leader dropping him down to sixth.
By the halfway stage, Hodgetts was making steady progress as race leader while second place Herron worked hard to close the gap. Newsham, now in third, had the luxury of a sizeable cushion before the three car train of Tyldsley, Colburn and Glew. MacDowall was unexpectedly lying in 17th place as he struggled to find his rhythm.
As the race continued, Herron was creeping ever closer to the back of Hodgetts Clio while Colburn, the youngest driver in the field at 16 -- who was also awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -- was being tested to the limit by the experienced championship leader.
In the midfield, Total Control Racing team-mates Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield) and Sam Tordoff (Leeds) were running well in seventh and 10th places with Sam also setting the NGK fastest lap of the race with a time of 2mins 10.627s (141.6kph average).
On the last lap, Herron made one last push to take the lead and his first Clio Cup win of 2009 but the experienced Hodgetts made his car as wide as possible to keep the 21-year-old in his mirrors and take his second win of the day and the season. Newsham took third with Tyldsley rounding off his best weekend with fourth and Colburn in fifth. Glew settled for sixth with MacDowall only managing 18th.
Action-packed round 11...
The day's earlier race was just as exciting for the 85,000 strong crowd. This time Glew led the way as the Michelin pole-sitter with MacDowall for company on the front row.
As the lights went out, both Glew and MacDowall made good starts to go side-by-side as they headed towards Copse but as the two drivers battled for track position, a gap opened up for third place Hodgetts to squeeze through and take the lead.
More drama unfolded on the opening lap as Glew and MacDowall tried hard to make amends but allowed Winrow to move into second and Newsham into third in the process with Phil and Alex now fourth and fifth.
Despite starting 10th on the grid, Tyldsley had made a great start to move into seventh place by the end of the first lap ahead of Amery Motorsport's Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) who had been unable to make the most of one of his best qualifying positions.
The action continued in the early stages with challenges taking place for every position, while at the front, Herron and Tyldsley had been able to pass MacDowall at Chapel Curve while Glew had been able to re-take third place from Newsham.
In the midfield there was great action between Team Pyro's Aron Smith (Dublin) and Lloyd who was making strong progress despite starting 18th on the grid.
By lap four of the 12 lap race, Hodgetts was still out in front but behind him places were changing frequently. Glew was able to pass Winrow to move into second with Ben now coming under increasing pressure from Tyldsley who was now in fourth after a retirement from Newsham -- caused as him, Glew and Winrow went three abreast into Abbey -- allowed him through.
As Hodgetts started his seventh lap he had a sizeable cushion over second place Glew followed by the Guiseley racer who was now in third after passing Winrow at Priory with a superb manoeuvre. This now meant Winrow was facing the challenges of MacDowall with the two battling hard causing contact to be made at Luffield and ending both their races shortly after.
As the race progressed, Glew -- who also took the NGK fastest lap -- had been able to reduce Hodgett's lead so that the two returning drivers were now battling end to end. Tyldsley was running strong in third followed by Herron in fourth, with Range Storage with Coastal Racing's Lee Pattison (Liversedge) in fifth and Lloyd, who was having one of his best races of the season, in sixth.
On the penultimate lap, Glew, who was now right behind Hodgett's Clio, was able to pass the 27-year-old as they headed into Copse due to Stefan suffering from what later transpired to be an electrical fault with the master switch. Stefan was able to retake the place though on the exit to the same corner.
The two continued to battle on the last lap but Hodgetts held on to take the chequered flag and his first win of 2009. Glew took second followed by Tyldsley -- who was jointly awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day along with Lloyd -- with Herron in fourth and Pattison in fifth. Lloyd came home in sixth after making up 12 places.
Commenting on his performance for the weekend, Hodgetts said: "I managed to pull out a lead in round 11 but my car developed a problem towards the end of the race when it kept turning itself off. I managed to hold on though and take my first win. Round 12 was another great race and was more a case of just not making any mistakes."
Championship leader Glew said of his weekend: "I was a little disappointed with the start in round 11, especially as I was positioned on the outside line despite getting pole. It was a great race though and for once I was thinking about the championship and where Alex was in the race. Round 12 just didn't go my way but we still managed to come away with plenty of points."
Commenting on his third place in round 11, Tyldsley said: "It wasn't my best start all season but I battled my way through and was determined to pass Ben for a podium spot. I didn't expect to be on the podium, especially starting 10th, but the car was running really well."
Second place in round 12 Herron added: "I'm still chasing that illusive first victory but hopefully it will come soon! Stefan is very experienced and I just couldn't find a way pass."
Podium finisher in round 12 Newsham said: "I'm really pleased with how things have gone this weekend, especially after not finishing in the earlier race. The whole event has been amazing and great to be cheered on by so many people."
Rounds 13 and 14 of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Norfolk's Snetterton circuit on 1st/2nd August 2009.