Rivett wins finale in fine style to claim Clio Cup 2011 crown

Experience won out in the tense final round of the 2011 AirAsia Clio Cup UK championship as Paul Rivett picked up the title he last won in 2004 with a superbly calm lights-to-flag victory to seal the driver’s crown.

The Clio Cup legend had saved his best weekend till last it seemed after claiming two pole positions, although he was beaten in the opening race on Saturday by Westbourne Motorsport drvier James Colburn.

The 18 year-old’s win in the first race gave him the series lead heading into Sunday’s decider where he started down in sixth only, although Aron Smith was promoted to the front row of the grid where second place starter Luke Wright’s Scuderia Vittoria Car should have been.

Despite this extra pressure, pole sitter Rivett made a demon start to head the field into the first corner while Smith made a very poor getaway that briefly dropped him to fourth behind the fast-starting Colburn and Jake Packun, although Smith quickly moved back up to third as he squeezed up the inside of Colburn at Hawthorn on the first lap.

The race was then soon brought under safety by lap three after Chris Smith went off the road and could not restart the car, adding a slight air of pressure onto Rivett’s shoulders.

On the restart however Rivett held onto the top spot, while Smith’s impatience to get back onto the tail of him was clear to see as he began hounding Get On Track Developments driver Packun for second place.

The Irishman consistently threatened a move into Westfield Bend but it was no use, also getting a great run on Packun coming out of Paddock Hill Bend only for the door to be shut in his face at Druids, leaving Smith to simply push his rival through the corner in frustration.

All the time Smith spent trying to pass Packun allowed Rivett to relax that bit more at the front, and the class of the Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver then showed as he set a new fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap of the race on his way to a fantastic win and the championship success in the process.

The fact that this was only the third win of the season for Rivett shows what a tight championship this has been all year, and Rivett was absolutely delighted and relieved also to add his third crown to his successes in 2002 and 2004.

“We’ve had a bit of a struggle of a year this year”, said Rivett to ITV4 after the win.

“We’ve started 25% of the races from near the back of the grid and we didn’t have a podium for a whole four rounds which is half the championship, but we’ve been quick this weekend, quickest in testing, pole for both races, finished second to James Colburn yesterday but we’ve won today which is exactly what we needed and the Lumison/Blue Square data car has been fabulous all weekend.

“I can’t thank them enough, I can’t thank Colin Stancombe and the whole of the Stancombe Vehicle Engineering team enough and everyone that’s been involved, friends and family that have supported us and it’s been a real team effort.”

Colburn could do nothing about the battle for second and settled for fourth place and third in the points (joint second with Smith), while Pyro’s Josh Files drove a solid race to pass Rob Boston with an impressive cutback overtake at Paddock before snatching fifth at the run to the flag from Total Control Racing’s James Dixon.

Adam Bonham threw away fifth with a mistake at Sheene while Ant Whorton-Eales spent the first few laps all over the rear bumper of Dixon before having to save a huge sideways moment at Paddock that dropped him to seventh ahead of Boston and David Dickenson.

Nicholas Hamilton’s first year of car racing ended on a real high when he secured his second top 10 result of the weekend (and the year) with 10th place, while Darren Wilson just managed to beat newcomer – and legends racer – Simon Belcher to the flag for Masters Cup honours.

Final championship standings: 

1.    Paul Rivett, 356 pts – Champion

2.   Aron Smith, 348 pts

3.   James Colburn, 348 pts

4.   James Dixon, 324 pts

5.   Jack Goff, 269 pts

6.   Jake Packun, 255 pts

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