Paul Rivett (Lumison BlueSquare Data/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering) secured his third victory of the year in determined fashion to end the 2011 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK season as champion in its season finale, also securing his third Clio Cup title, more than any other competitor that has ever entered the series.
Basked in glorious sunshine, Brands Hatch played host to arguably one of the most exciting endings that the series has ever witnessed, with four competitors all with a chance of claiming the prestigious crown that has previously been won by the current BTCC starts such as Tom-Onslow-Cole, Martin Byford and Dave Newsham.
“It’s such a brilliant feeling to win the 2011 championship,” said Rivett. “If anything, this championship means more to me than any of the titles that I have won previously. I’m almost at the point where I am lost for words.
“It was a great race today, I struggled to get off the line yesterday and that cost us the win. Today there were no issues, I was off the line like a rocket and that was it. I’m absolutely chuffed to get the fastest lap of the race, to end the season in style.”
The 2011 champion made a great start, leading Jake Packun (Get On Track Developments) into Paddock Hill for the first time, followed by James Colburn (Westbourne Motorsport) as Aron Smith (Team Pyro) made a nervy start off the line, dropping back to fourth in the process.
Despite a brief safety car period caused by debutant Chris Smith (Scuderia Vittoria) ending his weekend earlier than he had hoped at Surtees, Rivett controlled the pace of the race throughout, continually setting fastest laps as he charged to the finish line, picking up a further two points.
After making a flying start off the line, Packun was able to storm past Smith and Colburn to follow Rivett. The Bolton based driver continued his fine end of season form to finish second, matching his best result of the year gained on Brands Hatch Indy circuit at the season opener.
Rivett remained in front and continued to pull away, leaving Packun to defend second position manfully from Smith who tried on countless occasions to gain back the place lost at the start. However, his efforts would be to no avail, Packun holding on to the flag.
“I got a great start,” said Packun. “I couldn’t quite get in front of Paul like I had planned but remained on his bumper for the first three laps. After that, Paul showed blistering pace and pulled away. I just decided to drive my race and make no mistakes. Smith was right behind me for about 80 percent of the race and I managed to keep him at bay.”
Joint series runner-up, Smith crossed the line in third position after dropping to fourth, coming out as victor in a dice with fellow runner-up in the championship, Colburn as the pair entered Westfield early on in the race. The Irishman pulled away from his rival and completed the podium with third.
“I’m happy to have finished the championship in second position,” said Smith. “If someone told me at the start of the season that is where I would end up, so close to Paul going into the last race of the season then I would be absolutely over the moon.
“I didn’t get the best of starts in the race itself, which hurt me a little bit. We came back, I got past James and I tried everything to get past Jake to enable me to get on to Paul but he didn’t leave me an inch. To come away from this weekend with a double podium is a brilliant result for me.”
Still in with a mathematical chance of winning the championship going in to the last race, James Dixon (Total Control Racing) ended the season fourth in the championship after finishing the race in sixth, having started from seventh on the grid.
Amongst the action packed racing there was also a matter of deciding who would emerge as victor in the Masters Cup, with both Darren Wilson (20 Ten Racing) and Mark Proctor (Total Control Racing) in the running for the 2011 honours.
Proctor’s Graduate Cup hopes ended on lap nine after an error at Clearways saw him retire in the gravel, leaving Wilson needing to finish to take the win. Wilson did just that and also lifted the Graduate Cup, beating Proctor by 22 points.
“I didn’t think that I was going to do that well this weekend, as I knew that I was off the pace here,” said Wilson. “I don’t think I’m brave enough around Brands Hatch, but it all seemed to come to me in the final race. I saw Proctor go off with about six laps to go and I knew that it was just a case of bringing the car home to receive the Cup.
“Its an amazing feeling to win the Masters Cup today. I came into this championship a few years ago and the Cup didn’t exist. This year things have really come together for me and we have had some good results in the middle of the year, it means a lot to me.”
Of the remaining debutant’s, Ash Miller (Scuderia Vittoria) ended a productive weekend in the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup, bringing his car home in thirteenth on a track that the young Australian had never visited before.
Elsewhere, Nicolas Hamilton (Total Control Racing) rounded off his first season as a racing driver by finishing in tenth place, just short of matching his season best result of ninth in round 15 yesterday. Hamilton finished fourteenth in the championship, a remarkable result for the youngster who has cerebral palsy.
Round sixteen results
1. Paul Rivett Lumison Blue Square Data/SVE 25:06.353
2. Jake Packun Get On Track Developments +2.476 secs G
3. Aron Smith Team Pyro +2.717 secs G
4. James Colburn Westbourne Motorsport +3.260 secs G
5. Josh Files Team Pyro +5.862 secs G
6. James Dixon Total Control Racing +5.894 secs G
7. Ant Whorton-Eales Scuderia Vittoria +11.529 secs G
8. Rob Boston JHR Developments +14.249 secs
9. David Dickenson Team Pyro +14.873 secs
10. Nicolas Hamilton Total Control Racing +17.014 secs G
11. Adam Bonham Team Pyro +17.227 secs G
12. Andy Gorton 20Ten Racing Limited +17.636 secs
13. Ash Miller Scuderia Vittoria +18.787 secs G
14. Darren Wilson 20Ten Racing Limited +34.789 secs M
15. Simon Belcher Handy Motorsport with Karcher +35.039 secs M
2011 AirAsia Clio Cup Provisional Final Top 10 Standings
1. Paul Rivett Lumison Blue Square Data/SVE 356 points
2. Aron Smith Team Pyro 348 points G
3. James Colburn Westbourne Motorsport 348 points G
4. James Dixon Total Control Racing 324 points G
5. Jack Goff Total Control Racing 272 points G
6. Jake Packun Get On Track Developments 255 points G
7. Josh Files Team Pyro 209 points G
8. Adam Bonham Team Pyro 198 points G
9. Matt Allison Scuderia Vittoria 168 points
10. Tom Grice Total Control Racing 150 points G