TORDOFF FINALLY SECURES FIRST WIN AFTER ALMOST A YEAR Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) finally secured that elusive first win of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin season during rounds 11 and 12 at Snetterton circuit on...
TORDOFF FINALLY SECURES FIRST WIN AFTER ALMOST A YEAR
Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) finally secured that elusive first win of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin season during rounds 11 and 12 at Snetterton circuit on 7th/8th August -- almost a year to the day since his last victory.
The 21-year-old, who hadn't won a race since picking up his maiden and only win of 2009 at the Norfolk track, secured a lights-to-flag win during Sunday's round 12 which was broadcast on ITV4. Together with his third place in Saturday's rain-affected round 11, the second-year driver now moves into second place in the drivers' standings albeit 91-points behind Team Pyro's Dave Newsham (Inverness).
TCR team-mate James Dixon (Maidstone), 20, was also on fine form with two well deserved second places as well as his maiden Michelin pole position to end Newsham's unbeaten pole record.
Newsham still showed why he's been the championship's runaway leader though with a commanding win in round 11 followed by a third-place in round 12. The former Legends Racer also secured both the NGK Master Cup honours while Tordoff and Dixon shared the Graduate Cup class win.
The weekend also saw strong debuts for Clio Cup newcomers Kane Astin (Cambridge), racing for JHR Developments on his home circuit, and Westbourne Motorsport's Josh Cook (Bath) who certainly made an impression with a fifth place on his very first outing together with a further top 10.
Long-time coming for Tordoff...
With 10 poles from 10 rounds to his name coming into this weekend, Saturday's qualifying session looked set to be a formality for Newsham but by the end of the 30 minute session the Highlands racer couldn't even make it onto the front row. Suffering from oversteer the 43-year-old would start Sunday's 16-lap round 12 from third on the grid with Tordoff taking the honours with Dixon alongside him.
Tordoff sat patiently for the rest of the field to line up behind him and the red lights to go out on the start gantry. When they did he took full advantage of his P1 spot to lead the field into the right-handed Riches Corner closely followed by Dixon and Newsham. A good start from eighth on the gird saw JHR Developments' Lee Pattison (Liversedge) move up to fourth by the end of the opening lap and hot on the heels of the leading three cars.
Straight away Dixon was under pressure from the championship leader but he held firm during the earlier stages whilst also making sure not to let Tordoff slip out of his sights. It wasn't long too before Westbourne Motorsport's James Colburn (Worthing) turned the race from a four to a five-way battle for the lead with the 17-year-old temporarily setting the NGK fastest lap of the race before those honours eventually went to Tordoff.
The top five were now running nose-to-tail and also being caught by the midfield trio of Team Pyro's Jeff Smith (Wellingborough), Jake Packun (Bolton), now racing for Team Pyro/Autosave and newcomer Cook. As with the leaders, there was little daylight separating the three cars as the race reached its halfway stage.
Tordoff continued to lead the way as the 1.952-mile laps ticked by but he now had any one of eight drivers eager to capitalise on any mistake he might make. Newsham in particular was ready to pounce should second-place Dixon -- who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Meeting --
make a mistake but the former Formula Renault UK racer never gave him one.
The same could be said for Tordoff who shortly started his 16th and final lap on his way to that first win of 2010. Another perfect lap from the Leeds racer saw him cross the line to take the victory together with the Graduate Cup class win -- much to the delight of his team and father watching on the pit wall. Despite his best efforts, Newsham just couldn't find a way round Dixon to hand the TCR racer his second podium of the weekend with Newsham in third and also collecting the NGK Masters Cup class win. Pattison finished fourth with Colburn in fifth but just behind there was still unfinished business.
Smith, Packun and Cook were three-abreast along the Rivett Straight on the final with neither wishing to brake first as they headed into the Esses. The trio continued to battle through the Bomb Hole and Coram and when they finally emerged out of the Russell chicane the order remarkably remained unchanged and showing the competiveness of the entire field. Blue Square Date/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Matthew Munson (Burnham) finished 10th securing a career best for the 30-year-old.
Dixon unable to capitalise in wet...
Saturday's round 11 saw Dixon break Newsham's pole position record to line-up in the P1 spot with team-mate Tordoff to his left and Newsham in alien territory in third with Total Control Racing's Mike Robinson (Surbiton) completing row two.
With rain falling, and showing no signs of stopping, all the drivers opted for wet tyres as they lined up on the start grid. As the race got underway it was Dixon who made the best start to lead the field into the first corner followed by Newsham who had been able to get the jump on Tordoff. Pattison had also made the best of the opening few stages to run side-by-side with Robinson on the Rivett Straight to slip into fourth shortly after.
Dixon, in his first ever wet race, was struggling to keep the more experienced Newsham at bay during the opening lap and subsequently lost his brief lead at the Russell Bend. The order ran Newsham, Dixon, Tordoff and Pattison as the leaders crossed the start/finish line for the first time after an action-packed opening lap.
The early stages saw close racing throughout the field with Pattison and Tordoff in particular battling hard and series newcomer Cook enjoying a great debut in fifth place from ninth on the grid. Despite the conditions, all the drivers were pushing hard with Packun pulling 117.9mph on the Rivett Straight.
Out in front Newsham was now beginning to pull away from Dixon as Tordoff and Pattison continued to run nose-to-tail behind. Meanwhile Robinson had been able to get past Cook to move into fifth while further back a great three-car-train had developed involving Packun, Smith and Colburn.
As Newsham continued to open up his lead, it was now Dixon who was coming under threat from a charging Tordoff who had just set the NGK fastest lap of the race. With his mirrors full of his team-mate's car Dixon was now forced to soak up the pressure from the 21-year-old allowing Pattison to close in too.
It was now a three-car-train for second through to fourth places with Tordoff often darting up the inside into the run into Riches only for Dixon to hold his line and close the door. Newsham was under no such pressure though as the race neared its 16-lap duration.
Lap 14 saw an unforced error by Robinson at the Esses to drop him down the order and promote Cook back into fifth but also allowing the midfield gaggle of cars, led by Packun, to close in. The race though belonged to Newsham who crossed the line to take his ninth win of the season, along with the NGK Master Cup honours, and proving that he can still win races even when not occupying the P1 spot. Dixon clung on to take a deserved second from Tordoff, as well as the Graduate Cup class win, with Sam crossing the line a mere 0.300s behind. Pattison finished fourth with Cook ending a superb maiden drive to round off the top five. Local drivers Westbourne Motorsport's Patrick Collins (Spaldwick) and Astin finished 10th and 11th respectively in front of their home crowd.
Commenting on his weekend Tordoff said: "It's been a year since my last win so I'm delighted to finally get it under my belt. I've been quick all season but Dave has always been quicker so it's a massive confidence boost and great to get my championships bid back on track. It's also fantastic to see my team-mate [James Dixon] on the podium this weekend."
Double podium winner Dixon said: "It's a fantastic result for us and for the team. I switched cars before this weekend and it's clearly made all the difference. Round 11 was actually my first ever wet race so I struggled a bit but managed to soak up the pressure from Sam to hang onto second. I got a good start in round 12 and hung on for my second podium and another great result for us."
Round 11 winner Newsham said: "I've really enjoyed the battles this weekend but the damage was done in qualifying. I suffered with oversteer during the session and was just off the pace. With a wet race in round 11 you never quite know what's going to happen and knew James was inexperienced in the rain and that my best chance to grab the lead was at the start. In round 12 James drove really well and I just kept waiting for him to make a mistake but it never came."
Rounds 13 and 14 of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Silverstone National circuit on 21st/22nd August.