As the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup Championship arrives at Brands Hatch for the season finale this weekend, we caught up with one of the title contenders, and local driver, James Dixon to discuss his season to date, winning and what its like to race alongside a Hamilton.
How would you describe your season so far?
I’d say this season has been full of highs and lows. If you look at the last few rounds, we’ve had a win and a third, but we’ve been pretty up and down. I’ve had the most race wins this year, but we’ve also had a few too many DNFs. I also think we haven’t been on the podium as much as I’d have liked; that’s down to a few faults of my own and the Clio Cup is quite a contact championship, there have been a couple of incidents that have cost us a few points too.
What has been your most enjoyable win this year?
Probably Snetterton. I started from fifth, and after a few guys in front went off, I found myself leading by about two seconds. I really didn’t expect to win that weekend and it ended up being a pretty sweet victory, so definitely that one. Donington was also good, I had a great battle with Paul Rivett and it was nice to win there.
This is your second year in the championship, how does this year measure up to last year?
Last year, Dave Newsham walked away with it; which was great for Dave, but less so for the championship. I do think its unfortunate we don’t have ten rounds this year, I can’t believe it’s the season end already. Competition wise, it’s a lot stronger this year, we’ve had a number of different winners, which really shows the strength and the openness. Infact, I think there are five drivers within 26 points of each other, which means it’s going to be really tight at Brands, one mistake and its over.
Do you feel any additional pressure given the high profile of one of your team-mates is Nic Hamilton, the younger brother of 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis?
No, not at all. Nic has been a great addition to the team and he’s been a pleasure to race with. From a media sense, he’s brought us some more media coverage, which is always good. As a team we all push each other forward, so it’s been good to have such a great crop of drivers to work with here at TCR. I’m just getting on with my season.
What can we expect from you at Brands Hatch?
I want to win them all! Rivett is a strong competitor, I need to beat him this weekend as I don’t’ expect him to go off or make a mistake. I want to stick it on pole and I’m quite good at winning from pole. (James) Colburn is a real threat, he’s definitely looking strong in the second half of the year, and (Aron) Smith is always there or thereabouts. I think it’ll go down to the last lap of the last race.
The last two rounds are at Brands Hatch, which is your home circuit, that’s got to give you confidence that you can win the title?
Definitely. I actually work at Brands as an instructor, but I don’t get to go on the full GP circuit all that much. In actual fact, I wrote the car off there last year! But I’ve driven Brands a number of times since and I’ve not had a problem since. Earlier in the year I won here and should’ve taken a second win had I not been taken out on the first corner. I’ve just got to stick it on pole and win in t from there. That’s easier said than done though.
What is your favourite circuit in the world?
I’ve only raced in the UK, but I’d like to race at Spa. The scenery, the length of the circuit, it’d be a real challenge and it’s always regarded as a ‘real’ drivers circuit. That said it’d probably be a five-minute lap in a Clio!
What do you think about being part of the BTCC paddock?
You see so many Clio drivers going into touring car; it’s really inspiring to be part of the package. Jonny Adam, Tom Onslow Cole and Dave Newsham have all made it and it’s a real motivation to make an impact in the Clio Cup.
What does the future hold for you?
Touring car is definitely the next step for me; it’s just a case of sponsorship. I think this years crop of Clio Cup drivers could all win in BTCC, there is real talent here, I’ve spoken to a few teams, but its early days.