Colburn fights to Thruxton Clio double

James Colburn took a hard-fought double win in a spectacular Renault Clio Cup UK meeting last weekend at a rainy Thruxton to finally ignite his championship challenge.

The Westbourne Motorsport driver – who was a contender for the series’ championship last year – had been having a tough start to the season in the first four races, but looked set to change that last weekend as his second fastest time put him on pole for race two, not the fastest man in qualifying overall however as that was Team Pyro’s Adam Bonham.

Bonham’s lead lasted no time at all as Colburn made a super start to slot through from third on the grid to take the lead as Bonham’s sluggish start also dropped him to third behind team-mate Josh Files. Another of their team-mates did not make it round the first lap, Swedish driver Kim Andersson retiring after an off at Noble.

Nicholas Hamilton qualified an impressive seventh and career-best sixth, but he was tagged into a spin at the final chicane on the first lap that dropped him back, Vic Covey and Simon Belcher colliding at the same place a lap later.

At the front, Files was all over the back of Colburn for the lead as the pair began to gap Bonham, while Lithuanian rookie Ignis Gelzinis was a superb fourth but with a train of Clios on his tail, championship leader Jack Goff passing him on lap four.

Scuderia Vittoria drivers James Dixon and Luke Wright were next to attack Gelzinis, but Wright was caught napping by reigning champion Paul Rivett who moved up to seventh, trying to recover from a poor ninth on the grid. On lap nine all three took advantage of a problem for Gelzinis coming into the chicane, the Juta driver getting back up to speed in 12th.

Files’ pressure on Colburn was relentless as he nibbled the rear bumper of the Westbourne Motorsport car in the latter half of the race. Colburn almost gave the lead away on lap nine when he locked up into the chicane, the pair rubbing as Files tried to capitalise.

Colburn hung on and from then on showed some impressive defensive skills to hang on. On the last lap, FIles tried everything but came up just short exiting the final corner as Colburn took his first win of 2012 by a tiny 0.178s gap.

Bonham finished over five seconds back ahead of Goff, while Rivett got the better of Dixon for fifth, Wright finishing seventh ahead of Mike Bushell who was top rookie in eighth.

Colburn left it late to win race two in shocking conditions as he lead the field away from a rolling start behind the safety car, where seconds later Hamilton lost the back end heading into Allard and spun into the barriers, recovering with cosmetic damage to the front of his car.

A mistake from Colburn into the Complex allowed Bonham to move into the lead where later in the lap Files also moved to second, but a lap later it all changed when Bonham ran wide and spun at Noble,  Files doing likewise while Rivett sneaked past Colburn to lead having been fourth before the corner.

A safety car then came out as conditions worsened and Mike Bushell crashed hard at Allard, Rob Smith also retiring after a spin. Goff then went around the outside of Files on the restart at the Complex, sealing the third place at Church as Files fought back briefly.

Josh Cook made it a five-car train up front after Wright retired and began attacking Files for fourth, but Files spun himself around the front of a lunging Cook and dropped to 10th, while Cook carried on in fifth.

Rivett’s lead was still under huge threat as the field went onto the penultimate lap, and as Colburn began to push harder, Rivett went into the final chicane slightly too hot under braking and allowed Colburn to get the run and a much tighter exit from the corner and slip up the inside into Allard to lead into the final lap.

Although he tried, Rivett could not return the favour and it was Colburn who completed a brilliant double victory at Hampshire, Rivett finishing just over a second behind.

Goff and Dixon finished right on his rear bumper to round off by far Dixon’s best weekend of the season so far, while Goff’s consistency means he still leads the championship after the weekend.

Championship standings after rounds 5-6:

1. Jack Goff – 159 points

2. Paul Rivett – 137 points

3. Adam Bonham – 130 points

4. James Dixon – 116 points

5. James Colburn – 102 points

6. Josh Files – 100 points

7. Ant Whorton-Eales – 94 points

8. Kim Andersson – 72 points

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