Smith and Rivett lead the way at Brands Hatch

AirAsia Renault Clio Cup is going down to the wire © Jakob Ebrey

Championship contenders Aron Smith (Team Pyro) and Paul Rivett (Lumison BlueSquare Data/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering) topped the timesheets in testing today ahead of the final rounds of the 2011 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK championship at the world-renowned Kent circuit this weekend.

Irishman Smith – who currently holds a one point lead over Total Control Racing’s James Dixon in the championship standings ahead of this crucial make-or-break weekend – went fastest in the morning session setting a time of 1min 40.369 secs.

“The first session went very well for us,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, we have no new tyres this weekend so to be P1 in the first session is a big achievement, especially as a few of the others were using new tyres. I don’t want to count my chickens before the eggs hatch, but I think that we should be alright this weekend. I’m confident and I have good pace round here, out the back especially, which is really what you need.”

Second fastest in the morning session was Dixon, who has more wins than anyone in the championship this year and for whom Brands Hatch is his home circuit.

“I think that we were spot on in the first session this morning,” said Dixon. “I have no complaints at all about that, the grand prix circuit layout is a difficult track to get used to, so I am happy with our performance. We’re looking good for tomorrow in qualifying.”

A sun-drenched afternoon session saw Rivett go quickest with a time of 1min 40.323 secs. “I’m very happy to end the second session in P1,” said the two-time Clio Cup Champion.

“This is just what we need when we are fighting for the championship here this weekend; what a great couple of races it is going to be. As we know, testing is never quite a mark of where everybody is going to end up finishing in the races, but its definitely a good sign that we are at the front.”

Scuderia Vittoria’s ‘Cross Channel Challenge’ victor Luke Wright ended afternoon testing in second position behind Rivett. While the youngster can’t win the championship this year, he’s still keen to challenge for podiums this weekend.

“Testing has been pretty good for us,” said Wright. “The session was quite average for us in the morning. However, after making some changes the car was very good to drive in the second session. I think there’s certainly more time to find on track, so hopefully we will be quicker come qualifying.”

AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK action gets underway tomorrow, Saturday 1st October, with qualifying at 11:20 and round 15 starting at 16:25. Round 16 takes place at 13:25 on Sunday October 2nd and can be seen live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD.

Friday 30th September morning test times

1. Aron Smith Team Pyro 1:40.639 G
2. James Dixon Total Control Racing 1:40.796 G
3. Paul Rivett Lumison BlueSquare Data/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering 1:40.826
4. Jake Packun Get On track Developments 1:40.926 G
5. Jack Goff Team Pyro 1:40.941 G
6. David Dickenson Team Pyro 1:40.991
7. Luke Wright Scuderia Vittoria 1:41.127 G
8. James Colburn Westbourne Motorsport 1:41.152 G
9. Rob Boston JHR Developments 1:41.312
10. Josh Files Team Pyro 1:41.469 G

Friday 30th September afternoon test times

1. Paul Rivett Lumison BlueSquare Data/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering 1:40.323
2. Luke Wright Scuderia Vittoria 1:40.345 G
3. Jake Packun Get On Track Developments 1:40.522 G
4. Aron Smith Team Pyro 1:40.675 G
5. James Colburn Westbourne Motorsport 1:40.694 G
6. Jack Goff Team Pyro 1:40.856 G
7. Rob Boston JHR Developments 1:41.002
8. James Dixon Total Control Racing 1:41.026 G
9. Josh Files Team Pyro 1:41.140 G
10. Adam Bonham Team Pyro 1:41.210 G

About AirAsia Clio Cup

Each season drivers come from around the United Kingdom and internationally to compete in the thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing that the Renault Clio Cup demands. The Championship continues to be the UK’s premier one-make saloon-car championship. Using race cars based on the road-going Clio Renault Sport 200, the Championship continues to be a breeding ground for future Touring Car drivers. As a prominent support race on the British Touring Car Championship platform and benefiting from live, comprehensive and new for 2011, HD TV coverage on the ITV sport network, it remains the most direct link to the BTCC. Almost one third of the current BTCC grid graduated from the ranks of Renault Clio Cup UK http://www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/cliocup/Default.aspx
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