Double Clio win caps off perfect weekend for Allison

Matt Allison finally tasted success in the 2011 AirAsia Clio Cup UK championship with two wins at Croft last weekend, while the championship contenders were in all the wrong places at the wrong time.

The ex-Clio Cup race winner and BTCC racer qualified on pole position in the lottery that was a drying Friday qualifying session, which made the starting line-up for both the weekend’s races looking very topsy-turvy as championship leaders James Dixon and Paul Rivett started down towards the back of the field, Dixon starting 11th and 12th while Rivett started 16th and last for both races.

The opening lap of race one saw Allison head the field, but behind him there were a number of incidents as the 16 cars tried to thread through the chicane, Rivett’s drama continuing despite a good start as he was involved in a collision towards the back with Jack Goff – a race winner from Oulton Park – that sent the pair sideways as they fought too hard for room through the one-line corner.

The biggest drama took place further ahead of them as front row starter Luke Wright got out of shape at the same chicane also on the first lap and speared off into the barriers, making a significant mess of the front of his Scuderia Vittoria car and resulting in the race being stopped while a clean-up operation took place.

The field also lost three team Pyro cars as along with Goff, Adam Bonham pulled off into retirement, while Chris Swanwick’s car ended the race parked on the grass next to the start/finish straight.

When the race resumed, Wright’s team-mate Allison again led the field away, but would not be able to shake off the close attentions of Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn, who kept Allison reasonably honest throughout the race as Allison took his first win of the season by just under a second from Colburn and Aron Smith.

Jake Packun showed a return to his first round form as he claimed fourth ahead Dixon and Rivett, while masters class winner Mark Proctor had a very impressive drive to seventh place, cementing his storng performance in qualifying when he took a gamble in the conditions that put him fifth on the grid.

Race two was a complete demolition job from Allison this time, making a great start to lead from fellow front row starter Swanwick, who then spent the early laps defending his second place well from a train of cars that stretched to the back of the field

The man who hard the worst start turned out to be Nicholas Hamilton, who barely even made it past the start line as his car rolled to a halt on the grid.

Third-placed man Colburn was all over the back of the similar blue car of Swanwick for second place, and as the field bottled up behind the Pyro driver at the hairpin, this allowed Craig Currie to sneak past Goff for fifth place. Next time round on lap three, at the same corner Wright outbraked Colburn and drove around the outside of him for third place, before instantly making his move for second place on Swanwick with a decisive outbraking move inside at Tower bend.

On lap five, Colburn repeated the move at Tower to finally get past Swanwick, before on the same lap Goff was next to overtake when he stuck his nose up the inside of Swanwick at Sunny In, Smith making contact with Packun directly behind coming through Sunny Out as they bottled up.

Dixon and Packun were next to attack Swanwick, but for Dixon it ended in disaster as following an attempt to overtake by Dixon at the hairpin, Packun stuck his nose up the inside of him at Hawthorn two corners later, succeeding only in running into the rear corner of the TCR car and sending Dixon into a spin down the order.

Allison was comfortable as he stretched his lead lap after lap with a string of quick laps to in the end win the race by 2.701s from team-mate Wright who had began to close in the latter stages of the race as Allison eased his pace to seal an impressive double win. Wright’s focus in the last laps was hanging on to second place from the charging Colburn, who just came up short as the pair completed the podium.

Goff finished in fourth position while the fight for fifth was an entertaining one, won by Packun after he forced his way past Tom Grice – who had been almost spun out on lap one – at Sunny In, allowing Josh Files through also on the exit. Files lost out after contact on the last lap trying to pass Packun, meaning Grice, Proctor, Smith, Darren Wilson and the struggling Rivett rounded out the top 10.

His rival Dixon meanwhile failed to finish after a front right steering arm broke on the car, dropping him from first to third in the standings after a tough weekend. As a result, the championship has closed up dramatically, with only 17 points covering the top four drivers as the series heads into the long summer break before heading to Snetterton on August 6-7.

Rivett now leads the championship, and he also claimed the sponsor supplied holiday to Malaysia as a result of being on top at the mid season break. 

Championship standings after rounds 9/10:

1: Paul Rivett, 224

2: Aron Smith, 221

3: James Dixon, 217

4: James Colburn, 207

5: Jack Goff, 168

6: Jake Packun, 151


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