Dixon and Smith win rough Snetterton rounds, Rivett hangs onto series leadPosted: August 9, 2011
The AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK championship saw two entertaining races last weekend at the new Snetterton 300 circuit, with James Dixon and Aron Smith claiming a win apiece, but both also picking up a DNF each.
Dixon took back the lead of the see-saw championship after winning the opening race of the weekend when he benefitted from first lap chaos to take victory in Round 11 of the series, the front four runners in the race getting caught up in an opening lap incident at the new Snetterton 300 circuit.
James Colburn started the race from pole position but got off to a slow start when the lights went out, allowing another fellow championship contender Jack Goff to jump up from third on the grid and challenge the Westbourne Motorsport driver as the pack made their way into the first corner.
The field made their way through the first bend cleanly until Colburn suddenly got sideways heading towards Montreal, leaving the three drivers behind with nowhere to go and ending in contact that damaged the cars of Goff, Smith and Matt Allison. Championship contenders Allison and Smith were both out on the spot having started in the top four, but Colburn continued.
With the top four drivers all involved in the incident, Dixon made his way through the carnage from fifth position to emerge at the front of the pack after the opening lap. The race was not all plain sailing for the Total Control Racing driver as by the latter stages of the race Luke Wright closed to within a second of the leader, but the Scuderia Vittoria driver was unable to find a way past in the final three laps as Dixon claimed his fourth win of the season, the top three separated by less than a second.
The third driver on the podium was Josh Files, who drove an impressive race after taking advantage of a moment for Jake Packun that dropped him to fifth behind Team Pyro drivers Files and Adam Bonham, both picking up solid results and Files picking up his first podium finish.
Championship leader at the time Paul Rivett could not improve on his sixth place in qualifying after a battle with Bonham early on, finishing ahead of Serbian driver and Clio Cup debutant Neb Bursac in seventh. Goff and Colburn meanwhile were only able to make slow progress to ninth and 10th respectively.
Darren Wilson took the Masters Cup win in eleventh ahead of rival Mark Proctor, the latter’s race being ruined by a drive through penalty while running in the top 10. Newcomer Tim Sweet was next ahead of the last man on track Nicolas Hamilton, who had to pit for a new set of tyres early on. Wilson meanwhile was battling with series returnee Andy Jordan, a battle which ended dramatically when contact between them on the final lap saw Jordan spectacularly roll three times. Jordan was unhurt, but his Total Control Racing Clio was destroyed.
Race two was a complete reversal of fortune as the only casualty of the race turned out to be the race one winner Dixon, who didn’t even make it past the first corner (Riches) after a poor start and then contact with Packun that broke the front steering arm on Dixon’s car, his retirement handing the championship lead he had just regained back to Rivett.
Smith meanwhile had sprinted into the lead from pole position, and as he began to gap his team-mate Goff, Colburn set about attacking third place man Allison. Colburn made his move on Allison on the third lap, and a lap later Allison – with his rear bumper hanging in the wind after door banging in the early stages – lost another place to Rivett.
The race then turned into a thrilling game of chase at the front as Goff began to put Smith under real pressure in the latter laps, with Colburn catching them both, setting two outright lap records of the new circuit on the bounce as he crept up to the leaders having lost time passing Allison early in the race.
His blistering pace saw him join the battle for the lead and attack Goff on the last lap, while Smith managed to hang on for a superb third race win of the year in the series, with less than a second again splitting the top three as they passed the checkered flag, Goff making it a Pyro one-two ahead of Colburn, the latter pairing taking their fifth podiums of the season.
The result keeps the championship extremely close, with Paul Rivett now back in the championship lead as the top four are only separated by a mere 17 points. The Clio Cup will not be a part of the next BTCC round at Knockhill, but and will return September 17-18 at Rockingham circuit.
Championship Standings After rounds 11/12:
1. Paul Rivett, 264 pts
2. Aron Smith, 253 pts
3. James Dixon, 249 pts
4. James Colburn, 247 pts
5. Jack Goff, 208 pts
6. Jake Packun, 183 pts