Paul Rivett (Banstead) was crowned Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Winter Champion at Donington Park yesterday but it was Jason Templeman (Newark) who arguably grabbed the biggest headline by bizarrely winning the final round while spinning ...
Paul Rivett (Banstead) was crowned Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Winter Champion at Donington Park yesterday but it was Jason Templeman (Newark) who arguably grabbed the biggest headline by bizarrely winning the final round while spinning backwards!
With the title effectively already sewn up after Templeman had crashed out of Saturday's third and penultimate round, Rivett could afford to cruise to second behind his arch rival in yesterday's race. At the very last bend, however, he decided he wanted to take the title in winning style and attempted to overtake Templeman.
Entering the start-finish straight their Clios were side by side and eventually touched. Templeman had a 100mph spin and amazingly crossed the line travelling in reverse before crashing into the pitwall. But although stranded in the middle of the track, he was declared the winner as the official timing screens showed his Total Control Racing car's boot had crossed the line ahead of the nose of Team Firstair driver Rivett's.
The finish was in stark contrast to Saturday's third round when Templeman, having set a record Clio lap around Donington in qualifying, crashed out while leading on the very first lap. This left the way open for Rivett to steal an easy win and put himself on the verge of the title. Templeman's retirement also allowed privateer Mark Davies (Mirfield) to move up to second in the points standings heading into Sunday's final round.
Davies had finished the race third, behind TCR's lonely Jason Coffin (Shaftesbury), but only grabbed the position after a frantic sprint to the line with Ray MacDowall (Carlisle). TCR's MacDowall had been on course for his first ever Clio podium but, in defending his line at the last corner, ran wide and allowed Davies a run at him as they approached the chequered flag - the difference between them an agonising 9/1000ths of a second.
Even closer than that was the fight for sixth position, which team owner Colin Stancombe (Upminster) took by just 1/1000th of a second from the fast-closing Stuart Clarke (Shepton Mallett), the Tim Sugden Motorsport driver having spent the majority of the race making up ground after an earlier spin. Ahead of this pair, having shrugged them off a lap from the end, was Boulevard Team Racing's Martin Johnson (Alford).
Sunday's race, of course, was all about Templeman and Rivett. Although the former was disappointed not to have won the title, his race win and a new lap record at least restored him to second in the final points standings - aided by the fact that Davies this time could finish no higher than 10th. Rivett's title triumph, meanwhile, is also the first Renault crown for Firstair after it finished runner-up in the main 2001 Clio Cup series.
Coffin took third after shrugging off the lurking Clarke for his second podium finish of the weekend - a result which saw him also move past Davies in overall championship order. Taking his best ever Clio result in fifth was delighted Firstair driver Andy Brakewell (Carnforth). Johnson, TSM's Paul Wallace (Reading) and Mardi Gras Motorsport's James Malvern (Leamington Spa), both having gradually got closer to the ultimate pace throughout the winter championship, followed closely across the line. Stancombe's Peter Salter (Exeter) had been on course to finish among this group but was forced to retire his car in the pitlane.