Total Control Racing’s James Dixon took overall and Graduate honours in an incident packed opening round of the AirAsia Clio Cup at Brands Hatch today.
In a frenetic first lap, contact between Scuderia Vittoria drivers Luke Wright and Matt Allison led to retirement for both, and Total Control Racing’s Mark Proctor and 20Ten Racing’s Darren Wilson were also out of the race before the third corner, with Jack Goff retiring shortly after.
Starting from second on the grid, the Total Control Racing driver made a rapid start off the line and beat pole sitter Jake Packun cleanly into Paddock Hill bend. Despite an early safety car period following the four-car incident at Druids, Dixon kept his head for the win.
“I got good traction off the line and was able to get into the lead, and just keep them behind,” said Margate-born Dixon. “I’ve got a perfect car. I’m going for the championship so I couldn’t have hoped for a better start. “
Pole-man Jake Packun (Get On Track Developments) fought Dixon hard, regularly harassing him into Druids, but was unable to find a way past.
“I’m pleased to be on the podium, although we would’ve preferred the top step,” said Bolton-based Pacun. “I made a few attempts to get past, but it was too tight. If it had been the last race of the season, I might have gone for it. However, it’s the first race of the season. I was simply hoping for a chance that never came.”
Making a welcome return to the championship, Paul Rivett, set the race’s fastest lap, and gained the two championship points which come with it, but was unable to find a way past the dicing duo ahead.
“I’m happy with the podium, although the top step is always better,” said the two-time champion. Of course it’s not the same as winning, but well done to James, that’s three in a row here for him. Fastest lap shows the pace is in the car. It’s tough to overtake round here and James and Jake just didn’t make any mistakes.”
JHR Developments’ Lee Pattison scooped the Masters Cup trophy after making the most of the first lap incident with some race-long dicing with Team Pyro drivers Adam Bonham and Aron Smith. Elsewhere, Shoreham-on-sea driver James Colburn (Westbourne Motorsport) challenged hard, taking the fight to the more experienced three drivers ahead. However, he was unable to match their pace to the flag.
Former Kart champion, Tom Grice (Total Control Racing) fought hard, eventually bringing his Clio home in tenth after picking up significant front-end damage. Total Control Racing’s Nicolas Hamilton made his race debut and despite limited pre-season testing avoided the incidents ahead of him to record a twelfth placed finish.
Tomorrow’s grid, established by a drivers second fastest lap time in qualifying sees Rivett start on pole position with race winner Dixon alongside him. On row two, Jake Packlin lines up alongside Scuderia Vittoria’s Luke Wright, who will no doubt be keen to make amends for his first race performance.
The race can be seen live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD from 14:45 BST.
1: James Dixon Total Control Racing 22:40.770
2: Jake Packun Get On Track Developments +0.193
3: Paul Rivett Lumison BlueSquare Data / Stancombe Vehicle Engineering +0.410
4: James Colburn Westbourne Motorsport +1.605
5: Lee Pattison JHR Developments +6.078
6: Aron Smith Team Pyro + 6.989
7: Adam Bonham Team Pyro +14.208
8: Chris Swanwick Team Pyro +15.426
9: Josh Files Team Pyro +16.227
10: Tom Grice Total Control Racing +26.504