As darkness descended on Brands Hatch, it was Stefan Hodgetts’ headlights that emerged first to take the chequered flag ahead of pole sitter Josh Files. As for the championship battle, Jack Goff was able to extend his lead at the top as rival Paul Rivett failed to finish.
Having started the race in fading light, Team Pyro’s Files (Norwich) lined up in pole looking for his first race win this season, but was unable to get the start he wanted which allowed second placed Hodgetts (Redditch) to lead the field into turn one. The KX Academy driver was not able to pull away from the field as much as he wanted as Files was constantly snapping at his heels throughout putting him under immense pressure.
In the dying laps of the race, Hodgetts out braked himself at Druids to open the door for Files to slip through, only for Files to do the same thing a few laps later at Paddock Hill Bend and surrendering the lead. Files tried to take back his lead was too far back as they crossed the chequered flag.
The victory for Hodgetts is his third this season after taking a spectacular double victory at his mid season return to the series at Oulton Park. He also claimed the fastest lap for two extra points and he now lies seventh in the championship table.
‘It was really good,’ said a delighted Hodgetts. ‘I got a great start and from there we managed to crack on and get the job done. Holding off Josh was difficult as he was contently filling my rear view mirror. He put his lights on to let me know he was there as it was dark but in the end I was able to pip him to the chequered flag.’
Having looked strong throughout practice and qualifying, Files had set his sights on securing a race victory double at his favourite circuit on the calendar, but it wasn’t to be as the experienced Hodgetts pipped him to it. The Norwich driver lines up pole position for tomorrow’s season finale and will be hoping to do one better and take home that elusive number one trophy.
‘I’m happy but I could have been happier if I won to be honest,’ said Files. ‘It was a good battle with Stefan for the lead but it wasn’t to be, but there is always tomorrow so fingers crossed I can go one better.’
Rounding off the top three was Josh Cook (Bath) who in recent meetings has been in fine form having taken two races victories at Silverstone a fortnight ago. The 20Ten Racing driver lined up sixth and battled hard with the midfield before breaking free and storming to the third position on the podium and claiming his eighth Rookie Cup category race win this season.
‘It has become very familiar wearing this Rookie winners shirt,’ said Cook. ‘I think it has even become my favourite piece of clothing and I’m hoping to secure the final one tomorrow and take the championship. I’ve pretty much wrapped up the Rookie Championship now and for tomorrow I’ve got to focus on winning more points in the main driver’s championship table as that is also really important to us. I don’t know where I am in the table but I’m going to go out there and try and bag as many points as I can.’
As for the driver’s championship battle, it did not get off to the best of starts for second placed Rivett (Banstead) as eighth placed Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) had a driveshaft problem on the grid blocking Rivett from reaching his starting position. Despite Whorton-Eales and Rivett out of position, the lights still went out and the 23-car field sprinted down to turn one as Whorton-Eales pulled off to the side ending his race hopes.
The gird incident was not going to deter Rivett from snatching the championship lead from Goff (High Wycombe) and the PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver ducked and dived through the field before the inevitable happened when he found himself on the tail of Goff. The two battled hard with Goff holding off the defending champion for several laps before Dixon (Maidstone) and Colburn (Worthing) both ran wide causing midfield confusion which Rivett embraced slipping by Goff into fifth.
Rivett continued to pull away from the mid pack and was soon battling with newcomer David Dickenson (Keatingstown). The Irishman was able to hold off the experienced driver for several laps after increasing pressure but on lap four, Rivett slowed to a crawl at Sheene Curve before eventually pulling off and into retirement due to a snapped throttle cable.
As the cars passed the stricken PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering car, it was clear for Goff that all he had to do was bring the car home in one piece to extend his championship lead with only one race remaining.
With Goff finishing in ninth, he has now extended his lead to fifteen points. Paul Rivett is still within reach of securing his fourth title, but he has a lot to do as he starts down in eleventh for tomorrow’s race, whilst Goff starts in forth.
With recent ELF Masters podiums being dominated by Handy Motorsport with Pyro’s Simon Belcher (Swindon) as of late, it was Finlay Crocker (West Lothian) who took home the honors this time after bringing the car home matching his season best eleventh place. The Scotsman made a fantastic start to the race having passed five cars on the opening lap.
‘It was long, tiring and getting dark at the end,’ said the Scuderia Vittoria driver. ‘It was good though. It was all about the start as a bit of space came along and I just went for it. I was struggling a bit towards the end as I have probably taken a bit out of the tyres earlier on, but overall I’m very pleased.’
Although Goff has extended his lead, the title is yet to be decided and tomorrow’s finale looks set to be an edge of your seat thriller. By 3.15pm tomorrow, the title will have been decided and the 2012 Champion will be crowned, but who will it be. Goff or Rivett?
You can catch all tomorrow’s deadline day action live on ITV4 and ITV4HD as coverage starts at 11am lasting throughout the day. If you are unable to sit on the edge of your seat in front of a television, you can still watch the action online via http://www.itv.com.
Round 15 Classification
1. Stefan HODGETTS Scuderia Vittoria Laps 12 20:20.929
2. Josh FILES Team Pyro +0.232
3. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing +10.830
4. David DICKENSON Team Pyro +11.739
5. Adam BONHAM Team Pyro +12.162
6. Mike BUSHELL MBR/Westbourne Motorsport +12.978
7. James DIXON Total Control Racing +14.892
8. Jake GIDDINGS Finesse Motorsport Ltd +15.101
9. Jack GOFF Team Pyro +16.044
10. Ignas GELZINIS Juta Racing +19.602
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