As the lights went out for Round 7 of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup at a drying Oulton Park, it was pole sitter Hodgetts who held off the aggressive duo of Paul Rivett (Banstead) and Jack Goff (High Wycombe) into turn one to retain his lead, where he would then remain to the chequered flag.
‘It was really good,’ said a delighted Hodgetts. ‘Obviously getting the win for Scuderia Vittoria is fantastic, it couldn’t have gone much better. As for tomorrow, it has to be the same again. We’re starting on pole so anything less than a win is a failure. I am very focused and committed on winning tomorrow and it’s made easier as half the job is done already.’
Hodgetts continues, ‘It was hard work to hold off Goff and Rivett, they are quick lads. With Goff leading the championship and Paul having been involved in the championship for years it’s great. I’ve had many great battles with him (Rivett) but unfortunately he made a minor error with the tyres.’
Having not raced in Clio’s for over three years, the 29-year old was ecstatic on his return to the podium.
The race wasn’t without incident. As the field headed into the first corner, a collision in the middle of the pack saw the coming together of Nic Hamilton (Tewin), James Colburn (Worthing) and Finlay Crocker (West Lothian) leaving Hamilton stricken in the barrier and causing the release of the safety car.
Having got the jump on Goff into turn one off the lights, the PER HIRE Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver Paul Rivett looked to challenge Hodgetts for the lead. However, a miscalculation at the chicane caused his early retirement after colliding with the barrier damaging his car and handing second place to championship rival Goff.
‘We were absolutely flying out there,’ said a disappointed Rivett. ‘I got a great start, and as far as I could see, we were the quickest car out there but the incident was completely my own fault. I clipped the tyres on the exit of the chicane on the inside. On the lap before I missed my apex, so this time I thought I had to get it right, but I got it right maybe six to eight inches too far. It’s a real shame as the PER HIRE car has been absolutely great again this weekend and we’ve turned up here with the lovely new paint job, but we were bound to scratch it at some point, so now we’ve done that we will be out for the win tomorrow. Points wise for the championship, we need to go out there and win everything we can.’
Team Pyro’s championship leader Goff was able to extend his lead having held off a pursuing Josh Cook (Bath) to hold on for second place, his fifth podium of the season.
‘It was really good,’ said Goff. ‘We got an alright start but Paul also got a good start so I had to let him through at the first corner. After that I had to refocus. Later on Paul made a mistake breaking his steering arm which allowed me past and I was able to control my race from there. Overall, today has been very good for the championship.’
Rounding off the top three and taking home the Rookie Cup trophy was 20Ten Racing’s Josh Cook. Having started sixth on the grid, he battled hard to finish on the podium for the first time this season.
‘It was pretty interesting. I got a pretty good start but really it was just a race where I knew I had to bring the car back home in one piece. It was an eventful race, I spent a lot of time trying to hang onto Jack Goff and I caught up at one point but made a little mistake with the gears. It was an awesome race and 20Ten Racing and Cook Sport have done a fantastic job setting up the car today. It’s been a brilliant weekend so far and we will see how it goes tomorrow,’ expressed a delighted Cook.
As the five-car train at the front began to pull away from the rest of the pack, a heated battle between Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), James Dixon (Maidstone) and Aaron Williamson (Holbeach) began to gather some attention, neither of the three letting the other one out of their sight. Just 1.1secs separated the three at the chequered flag.
Completing the podium was ELF Masters Trophy winner Darren Wilson (Newark), making it a double podium for 20Ten Racing, another newcomer to the top steps this season.
‘It was great,’ gleamed Wilson. ‘It’s my first podium of the year, which is nice but it all came together on the last lap. I was trying to stay with the pack and there were a few incidents up ahead on the last lap and it all came to me. I had a little touch with someone but was able to come back on the circuit. When I went over the line I was thinking if it was enough for a Masters win and when I got called up to the podium it was great news! Also with Josh Cook on the podium it’s been a great event for 20Ten Racing, who were also on the podium for the first time this year.’
On the final lap, an unfortunate incident between Ronnie Klos (Market Harborough) and Kim Andersson (Sweden) ended both drivers afternoon race.
Tomorrow’s grid sees race winner Hodgetts line up on pole with fifth place Josh Files in second, who will no doubt be keen to take the top spot. Tune in live on ITV4 for all the action from Round 8 of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup taking to the Cheshire circuit Sunday at 15.14 June 10th.
Round 8 Classification
1. Stefan HODGETTS Scuderia Vitorria Laps 15 26:53.855
2. Jack GOFF Team Pyro +0.465
3. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing +0.928
4. Adam BONHAM Team Pyro +1.432
5. Josh FILES Team Pryo +2.028
6. Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport +8.638
7. James DIXON Total Control Racing +9.047
8. Aaron WILLIAMSON Finesse Motorsport Ltd +9.778
9. Mike BUSHELL MBR +17.332
10. William DAVISON Westbourne Motorsport +21.860
A full set of timing results and championship standings can be found here: www.tsl-timing.com
For further information please visit: http://www.renaultsport.co.uk/championships/cliocup/Default.aspx
Press images of the Renault Clio Cup UK can be downloaded from: www.jakobebrey.com/renault