Goff does the double, Smith takes the points lead into final round of the seasonPosted: September 22, 2011
Pyro Racing’s Jack Goff kept everyone assured that he is not out of the championship fight yet, by cruising to two comfortable wins at Rockingham last weekend as the title battle closes right up heading into the Brands Hatch finale.
Goff was on the pace immediately from qualifying by securing to pole position ahead of Pyro team-mate Josh Files, while James Colburn was highest of the championship contending quartet in third ahead of James Dixon and Aron Smith, while the series leader Paul Rivett had a nightmare session as his car lost power early in qualifying meaning he would start 16th.
The Pyro pair were then stunned as the lights went out for race one when Colburn made a blinder to shoot into the lead through a conjested turn one, although his hard work was undone with a mistake at Deene hairpin that gifted the lead to pole sitter Goff and dropped the Westbourne Motorsport driver to third once again.
With the field surviving the first few corners, Colburn came under pressure from the fast-starting Jake Packun and Luke Wright. Packun made his move to get ahead at Tarzan, but Colburn retaliated quickly at the chicane a corner later to retain third.
Packun then lost out to Wright on the next lap at Tarzan, though the Scuderia Vittoria driver’s fourth place was brief when he retired only a corner later with suspension damage, prompting a safety car after three laps before which Smith made a successful lunge on Packun for fourth at Tarzan.
Goff and Files made clean restarts to once again begin to build a gap over the rest of the pack, while behind them Colburn lost third place to a late-braking Smith at Deene hairpin, also giving Packun momentum to follow him through into fourth at Chapman.
Rivett meanwhile had started his race with an impressive charge to climb up the order from 16th to ninth, and still pushing forward through the field passing eighth-placed Adam Bonham before the latter retired with mechanical issues.
The rest of the race was simply an exhibition for leader Goff who comfortably took his second win of the season, while team-mate Files followed him home to his best result of the year in second.
Smith’s seventh podium of the year him to within two points of Rivett at the top of the championship standings, with Packun fourth ahead of Smith’s rivals Colburn, Dixon and the recovering Rivett finishing seventh. Rookie Ant Whorton-Eales starred on his way to eighth ahead of returnee Rob Boston and Craig Currie, while Mark Proctor again took Masters Cup honours in 12th ahead of Darren Wilson and Nicholas Hamilton.
The second race saw Goff and Colburn make identical starts from the front row and race side-by-side through the banking, Goff holding the lead with the inside line braking for the hairpin while Dixon and Wright – again making a great start – slotted into second and third respectively when Colburn again slid wide at the hairpin.
Half a lap later there was drama involving one of the championship contenders, when the fast-starting Packun was under pressure from Smith and was tapped into a half-spin at Tarzan corner.
The race then became stalemate as Goff was uncatchable in the lead to record a double win from lights-to-flag ahead of Dixon, who picked up valuable points for second place. Colburn meanwhile put on a spirited charge to make his way back onto the podium as early as lap three, when he sweetly out-braked Wright into Deene hairpin.
He then upped the pace and chased Dixon home to third place ahead of Wright and Smith, while series returnee David Dickenson went on to finish a strong sixth place ahead of Whorton-Eales.
Rivett once again had to fight through the field – this time from 17th – and the Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver had a great opening lap to make it into the top eight, which put him in the thick of a battle for sixth place with Dickenson, Bonham, Whorton-Eales Rob Boston.
But from then on it wasn’t Rivett making progress, but Clio rookie Whorton-Eales who put on an inspired charge to pass the double champion Rivett at Deene hairpin late in the race, the pair then both quickly dispatching Bonham at the final chicane for seventh and eighth respectively in a disappointing weekend for Rivett.
Wilson got the better of Proctor for Masters Cup honours and 11th place ahead of newcomer Andy Gorton, while the ever-learning Nick Hamilton won a race-long battle with prize winner Mark Gibbons, whose strong guest appearance sadly ended when understeered into the wall at the final corner and coasted to a halt 100 metres from the finish.
This now leaves us with a hugely exciting climax to this thrilling 2011 Clio Cup Uk season as it heads into it’s final two races in two weeks time at the Brands Hatch GP circuit, with Irishman Smith leading on 298 points ahead of Dixon (295), Colburn and Rivett (294), and Goff still there on 272 with 64 points still up for grabs.
Championship Standings After rounds 13/14:
1. Aron Smith, 298 pts
2. James Dixon, 295 pts
3. Paul Rivett, 294 pts
4. James Colburn, 294 pts
5. Jack Goff, 272 pts
6. Jake Packun, 205 pts