GLEW MAKES IT FOUR WINS FROM FOUR Team Pyro's Phil Glew (Tothill, Lincolnshire) continued his unbeaten record with a pair of victories in rounds three and four of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Thruxton circuit on 25th/26th...
GLEW MAKES IT FOUR WINS FROM FOUR
Team Pyro's Phil Glew (Tothill, Lincolnshire) continued his unbeaten record with a pair of victories in rounds three and four of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at Thruxton circuit on 25th/26th April -- his fourth win from four races.
The 25-year-old driver racing in his second Clio Cup season increased his championship lead by taking victory in round three on Saturday, 25th April followed by a lights-to-flag win in round four -- broadcast live on ITV4 -- on Sunday, 26th April. Total Control Racing's Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) and Team Pyro's Aron Smith (Dublin) both ended the weekend with a second place each in rounds three and four respectively, while JHR Development's Andrew Herron (Dromore, Co Down) completed the podium line-up with two third places.
A dry track greeted competitors for the start of round three. Following the earlier qualifying session, Glew held the Michelin Pole Position with Amery Motorsport's Dave Newsham (Inverness) alongside him on the front row. As the starting lights went out, Glew made a poor start allowing Newsham to lead the field into the first corner with Glew in second. Despite only qualifying in eighth, 18-year-old MacDowall made a great start to move up the field pushing Smith and Total Control Racing's Mike Robinson (Surbiton) down the order with Herron also gaining a place from fifth on the grid.
As the field entered the Complex for the first time, Glew made a move on Newsham to take the lead, while a late braking manoeuvre from MacDowall moved him into second with Newsham now in third, closely followed by Herron, Smith and Robinson.
Meanwhile behind the front runners, contact between Team Pyro team-mates Mark Hazell (Ilanhennock) and Alex Dew (Bampton), APO Sport's Alex Osborne (Northampton), Amery Motorsport's David Shepherd (Sandbach) and Jake Packun (Bolton) -- now racing in the Elite Motorsport car, as they all tried to make up places, saw an early end to their races and with the cars in a dangerous position the Clerk of the Course deployed the Safety Car at the end of lap one.
With the cars safely removed, racing resumed on lap seven with the race extended to 15 laps. Glew got away well from the Safety Car to lead once more, while Herron used the restart to his advantage to get ahead of Newsham at Club to take third with Smith and Robinson in pursuit.
Shortly after the restart, Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey) was forced to pit after he was shown the black and orange flag for dangerous bodywork sustained in the earlier incident on lap one while a mechanical problem for Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's Patrick Collins (Spaldwick) forced him to retire.
As the race progressed Glew began to pull away, developing a lead of 1.171s and also setting the NGK Fastest Lap time of 1min 24.255s (100.54mph average) to earn two extra championship points. Glew continued to push, closely followed by MacDowall and the three-car train of Herron, Newsham and Smith who were bumper-to-bumper in an attempt to take the final podium spot.
In the midfield, Coastal Racing's Carl Bradley (Morecambe), Range Storage Ltd with Coastal Racing's Lee Pattison (Liversedge), Robinson and Team Pyro's Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield) were all battling hard for position as was JHR Developments Steven Hunter (Coal Aston) who is the latest entry to the one-make series pushing registrations up to 26.
By the closing stages, Glew had developed a comfortable lead, while second placed MacDowall was quickly being caught by the chasing pack of Herron, Newsham and Smith as a result of his fading tyres.
On lap 14, Robinson, who had been running well in sixth tried to take fifth place Smith at Club but ran wide allowing Bradley and Pattison to squeeze through dropping him down to eighth.
The last lap also saw Westbourne Motorsport with Stancombe Vehicle Engineering's James Colburn (Worthing) retire from the race after he made contact with Total Control Racing's Jamie Ackers (Kent).
With the chequered flag in sight, MacDowall -- who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day - only just managed to hang on to second, handing Glew his third victory in a row and, with his NGK Fastest Lap, maximum championship points. Herron took the honours for the remaining podium spot with Newsham settling for fourth and Smith in fifth.
Round four at the Hampshire circuit on Sunday was broadcast live on ITV4 as part of the channel's BTCC coverage. Glew again held the Michelin Pole Position but this time had team-mate Smith alongside him on the front row with Newsham and Robinson on row two. As the race got underway, Glew made amends for his poor start in round three to lead the field into the first corner with Newsham side-by-side with Smith in the battle for second and third.
Robinson, who had qualified in fourth on the grid, lost two places as Herron and Total Control Racing's Sam Tordoff (Leeds) -- his best qualifying position so far -- were able to get passed. By the end of the first lap, Newsham had been able to take Smith for second but this was short lived as on the next lap he made mistake into the Complex dropping him down to fourth leaving Smith to regain his second place with Herron following through in third and Tordoff in fifth.
MacDowall, who finished second in round three, wasn't having so much luck in race two dropping down the order to 10th after starting seventh although he was able to make up a place on lap six.
With Smith concentrating on defending the advances of Herron, Glew began to pull away developing a lead of 1.205s by the halfway stage. Behind the front four, Robinson got a good run out of Club to take fifth place from Tordoff -- a move which was repeated by Pattison -- who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -- on 16-year-old Colburn only for James to retake the position on the final lap.
MacDowall, Bradley and Osborne continued to battle for a top 10 finish while with just three laps to go, Smith - who also set the NGK Fastest Lap with a 1min 24.194s (100.73mph average) - was now closing in on his team-mate.
On the last lap, Smith was lining up an overtaking move as they headed into Club for the last time but an earlier spin by Team Pyro's Jeff Smith (Wellingborough) at the same corner brought out the yellow flag indicating no overtaking and forcing Smith to ease off.
A determined Glew was then able to hang on to take his fourth win and extend his championship lead to 34 points ahead of second place Smith who now overtakes MacDowall in the drivers' standings. Herron took his consecutive third place of the meeting with Newsham again missing out on a podium to finish fourth with Robinson in fifth.
Commentating after his performance, a delighted Glew said: "I honestly can't believe it! I didn't make a great start in the first race losing the lead but I managed to regain it at the Complex and from then it was just a case of keeping my head down. Today's race was even harder as Smith was really breathing down on me towards the last few laps but I managed to hold on."
Commenting after his second place in round three, MacDowall said: "That was a really tough race. My head was down after a poor qualifying session but I got a great start to gain a few places and then braked late going into the Complex to squeeze into second. It was a real battle after that as my tyres were fading but I managed to hold off Herron."
Double podium finisher Heron said: "It's good to come away with two third places, especially starting fifth on the grid for both but I'm really hungry for the win and know we're quick enough. We had the wrong set-up in qualifying which really cost us, so we'll be looking for a win at Donington."
Commenting after round four, second place Smith said: "It's been a good weekend and I'm pleased to come away with a podium. It's hard to pass at Thruxton so I was waiting for Phil to make a mistake but it never came. It didn't help that there was a yellow flag at Club on the last lap either as I reckon I might have got him [Glew]."
Rounds five and six of the 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Donington Park on 16th/17th May.
-credit: rclio uk