Goff shares spoils with Rivett to take early lead for Pyro

Pyro’s Jack Goff started the 2012 AirAsia Clio Cup in strong fashion, taking a win and a second place at Brands Hatch to seal the early championship lead, sharing the race wins with reigning champion Paul Rivett who was cruelly denied a double.

A championship contender throughout last season, Goff qualified third on the grid behind first-time polesitter Josh Files and Rivett filling the front row of a healthy 25 car grid.

A good start saw Files hold the advantage into Paddock Hill bend for the first time, but he got it all wrong into Graham Hill bend two corners later when he slid wide onto the grass and dropped to fourth behind Goff and James Colburn as he gathered it all back together, allowing Rivett through into the lead.

Files was quickly keen to recover from the error and dived back past Colburn for third a lap later, and the Pyro driver dropped him rapidly as he joined the battle for the lead between Rivett and Goff.

Behind Colburn, a train of cars were fighting over fifth led by two more Pyro drivers. Adam Bonham made a move on Luke Wright on lap eight but overcooked it slightly and ran wide, allowing Aaron Williamson through.

The Clio Winter Series champion was quick to nip past Wright, Bonham following Williamson through, which then became fourth for the Ginetta convert when Colburn pitted with a problem ahead of him.

Rivett looked odds on for the first win of the year with Files putting Goff under huge pressure for second place, but on lap 18 he suddenly slowed coming out of Druids with a suspected puncture, which turned out to be a trackrod failure as he pulled off into an unfortunate retirement.

This left Goff leading with two laps to go, and he defended his lead well enough to hang on and claim his fourth win in the Clio Cup ahead of Files by 0.490s.

Rivett’s demise again helped Williamson, who took an exceptional third as well as rookie class honours for Finesse Motorsport ahead of Wright who recovered back past Bonham for fourth, while James Dixon could make his way up to sixth only after a disappointing qualifying of 12th for new team Scuderia Vittoria, only after Jake Giddings retired on the last lap.

Nicolas Hamilton also made up for lost ground after he was caught up in a lap one dice involving Adam Gould, moving up to 13th for Total Control Racing, whilst Mark Tilbury took Masters honours one place further back. Rally driver Gould put together an impressive fightback himself by climbing to 12th ahead of the pair after spinning on lap one.

Race two saw Files again leap into the lead at the start ahead of Rivett, while Goff had a sluggish getaway and came under attack from an aggressive Colburn who squeezed his Westbourne Motorsport car through the gap, scraping the pitwall and Goff’s car as he did so, the move not paying off as he lay fifth behind Goff.

Behind them, yellow flags were already waving at Paddock for an accident between Kim Andersson and William Davison, before the red flags were then frantically waved still on the first lap when Wright slid broadside in the middle of the pack at Graham Hill bend after a tag from Josh Cook, the Pyro car collecting Giddings which sent the FML driver off the road into a heavy driver’s side impact with the barriers. 

A separate accident seconds later also claimed the races of Mike Bushell, who was spun across the front of Hamilton and Gould into the barriers before Surtees. With eight cars littering the circuit, the race was stopped as marshalls quickly cleared the track.

Files headed Rivett on the restart, while Bonham lost a place to team-mate Goff at Druids a lap later, but on lap eight Rivett went for a gap and took the lead as he nudged Files wide at Clearways, followed by Goff who took second as Files lost momentum.

Bonham was next to attack and got alongside coming out of Druids a lap later. Files held the inside at Graham Hill bend, but Bonham got a cutback and drew alongside again on the exit, taking third at Surtees and allowing Colburn to pounce on the opportunity and follow him through into fourth.

Bonham then set fastest lap on lap 11 in his bid to close on the lead pair, while Goff gave the leader a slight tap heading into Druids at half distance, the pair barely more than a second apart.

Goff pressured Rivett at the front from start to finish, and Rivett showed his title-winning experience by hitting every braking point and apex to perfection to keep Goff at bay all the way to the flag for the first win of his title defence for Stancombe Vehicle Engineering, ahead of Goff, Bonham, Files and Ant Whorton-Eales.

A great battle between Scuderia Vittoria team-mates Finlay Crocker and Vic Covey rumbled for ninth, although Crocker became one of six drivers awarded five-second penalties for exceeding track limits at Graham Hill bend, the most significant being fourth-placed Colburn, which dropped him down to seventh in the classification behind Dixon.

Ronnie Klos was another to do so, though he cost himself more with a wild move under braking at Druids from a long way back that saw him clatter into Mark Tilbury, while Williamson was handed a drive-through penalty for repeated track limit offences.

Simon Belcher won the Masters class in 10th place behind Covey, beating Darren Wilson and rookie Ignas Gelzinis.

Goff leads the championship after the first two rounds, as the series heads to Donington in two weeks time.

Championship standings after rounds 1-2:

  1. Jack Goff – 60
  2. Josh Files – 50
  3. Adam Bonham – 47
  4. James Dixon – 38
  5. Ant Whorton-Eales – 34
  6. Paul Rivett – 32
  7. Aaron Williamson – 31
  8. Luke Wright – 22

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