Hodgetts stuns the opposition with clean sweep on Clio return

Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

2007 Clio Cup UK runner-up Stefan Hodgetts returned to the series in style as he won both races at Oulton Park last weekend for Scuderia Vittoria.

Hodgetts – returning to the series in place of James Dixon for the rest of the season – qualified comfortably on pole for both races on his Scuderia Vittoria debut, and held on under pressure to take a double win in the two encounters.

A great start from pole saw Hodgetts lead championship leader Jack Goff and reigning champion Paul Rivett (carrying a new black livery) into Old Hall for the first time, while behind there was a collision in the midfield between Nicolas Hamilton, Finlay Crocker and more crucially the double winner from Thruxton, James Colburn, who all retired with damage on the first lap.

After a brief safety car period, Hodgetts led the pack away once again with Rivett right up his rear bumper. However, the thought of an exciting scrap for the lead was cut short when Rivett misjudged his line into the chicane and clipped the barrier, damaging the front corner and forcing him into retirement.

Hodgetts was left with only Goff for company as he took the victory on his Clio Cup return, Goff finishing second for his fifth podium of the year to open up his points lead, while Josh Cook had his best performance of the year with third place to take a maiden podium for the 20ten team driver.

Pyro’s Adam Bonham finished fourth ahead of team-mate Josh Files, Ant Whorton-Eales sixth while Dixon finished seventh in his first race back with Total Control Racing after parting with Scuderia Vittoria.

Race two again saw Hodgetts make the best start from pole as he shot into the lead ahead of fellow front row starter Josh Files, the Pyro driver just about holding off Rivett who squeezed into third ahead of Goff at Old Hall, while Hamilton’s bad luck continued when he locked up and skidded into the gravel at Cascades, causing a safety car but getting himself free from the kitty litter.

On the restart Hodgetts controlled the field, but the real dice was still Rivett pressuring Files for second place as he looked outside into the hairpin, while on lap five the same corner was the scene of the crime for an incident between Will Davison and Sweden’s Kim Andersson, causing another safety car to remove Davison’s Total Control Racing car.

Files was a lot racier on the next restart as he sniffed around the rear of Hodgetts’ Clio into the hairpin, Rivett and Goff keeping close as the four-car train built up a gap on Mike Bushell, who was having his best showing to date in 2012. Further back, Hodgetts’ team-mates Vic Covey and Finlay Crocker tried their best to take each other out at Cascades on lap nine.

A mistake on lap 12 cost Bushell dearly when he locked up at Island hairpin, followed by another when he made contact with Belcher at Knickerbrook chicane that sadly ended his race, handing the rookie cup honours back to Cook who took fifth.

Hodgetts made no mistakes to complete a memorable double win for Scuderia Vittoria, with Files, Rivett and Goff following in close company, rookie winner Cook finishing five seconds further back in fifth ahead of Dixon, Whorton-Eales and Masters winner Belcher.

After his double win Hodgetts said: “It’s fantastic, Scuderia Vittoria have given me a fantastic car. Yesterday qualifying did it really, it was a bit damp but we drove it like it was dry and got two poles which set us up fantastic for the race win yesterday and obviously the race win today.

“It was just such a good car to drive and it’s just fantastic to win for the team and to get back, this is what I should be doing, I just love driving racing cars!”

Colburn again failed to finish in the second race meanwhile, a tangle this time with Ignas Gelzinis at the hairpin meaning he failed to score any points at Oulton Park.

Goff opens up a healthy championship lead as the series heads to Croft in a fortnight’s time on June 23/24.

Championship standings after rounds 7-8:

1. Jack Goff – 211 points

2. Paul Rivett – 162 points

3. Adam Bonham – 158 points

4. James Dixon – 150 points

5. Josh Files – 148 points

6. Ant Whorton-Eales – 128 points

7. Josh Cook – 114 points

8. James Colburn – 102 points


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