Champion Phil Glew (Tothill, Lincolnshire) ended his 2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin season as he started with a double podium during the final two rounds at Kent’s Brands Hatch GP circuit on 3rd/4th October .
The 26-year-old Team Pyro racer claimed a lights-to-flag victory in round 20, the final round of the action-packed season, together with a second place in round 19 to finish the year on a high and secure the Entrant honours for his team.
Total Control Racing’s Alex MacDowall (Carlisle), who has been Glew’s main rival throughout the series, also ended on a positive note with win in round 19 and a second place to finish as the Vice-Champion. The thrilling weekend also saw a maiden podium for Amery Motorsport’s Rob Gaffney (Waltham Abbey), returning to the series after an absence, with third in round 19 while team-mate Dave Newsham (Inverness) picked up the remaining podium spot and finish fifth overall.
With the season drawn to a close, attention now turns to the forthcoming Winter Cup series which takes place at Rockingham later in the year (7th November).
Glew rounds off 2009 season…
In front of a packed Brands Hatch crowd, the final round of the 2009 Clio Cup championship saw title winner Glew line up on the start grid as Michelin pole-sitter – his eleventh of the season. Alongside lay MacDowall while Total Control Racing’s Sam Tordoff (Leeds) and former Legends Racer Newsham made up row two.
As the lights went out for the start of the 12 lap race, it was MacDowall who made the better start with Phil only just hanging onto the lead around Paddock Hill Bend thanks to holding the inside line. Newsham was also able to move up into third with Tordoff in fourth as the field jostled for position. The opening lap saw two separate incidents at Graham Hill Bend and Surtees causing the Safety Car to be deployed at the start of lap two.
Racing resumed on lap four with the race extended to fifteen laps. After bunching up the field, Glew timed his restart to perfection to open up a defendable lead crossing the Brabham Straight with MacDowall in second just ahead of Newsham.
The re-start didn’t bode so well for Tordoff however who was forced to retire with what later transpired to be a broken throttle cable bracket. Sam’s retirement allowed Gaffney to move into fourth with JHR Developments’ Andrew Herron (County Down) in fifth and Team Pyro’s Aron Smith (Dublin) in sixth – despite starting the race ninth.
Out in front, Glew continued to push with the 26-year-old setting the NGK fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 40.858s (82.12mph) around the 2.301 mile circuit.
Meanwhile in the midfield, Gaffney ran wide at Graham Hill Bend dropping him down the order to sixth only to be passed by Lee Pattison (Liversedge) at Surtees a few laps later in his Range Storage Ltd with JHR Developments car.
Herron wasn’t having any better luck either, running wide at Sheene and ending his race as well as triggering a brief Safety Car period. When racing resumed Glew once again timed the re-start to perfection followed by MacDowall and Newsham. Smith was now in fourth with Pattison rounding off the top five.
The re-start also allowed Total Control Racing’s Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield) to close in on Gaffney with the 17-year-old looking strong through the second half of the circuit with Gaffney just managing to hold on to the position.
With the chequered flag insight, Glew – who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day -crossed the line to take his 11th win of the season and finish the season in the same fashion to which he started back in April. MacDowall came second with Newsham in third just ahead of Smith and Pattison.
MacDowall ends on high…
Saturday’s round 19 saw Glew as the Michelin pole-sitter with Gaffney producing his best qualifying result of the season to go alongside him. MacDowall and Herron occupied row two as the lights went out for the start of the race.
Gaffney made the better start as Glew struggled of the line allowing MacDowall to come through into second. Herron also made a good start but had lined-up incorrectly on the start grid and subsequently was handed a drive-through penalty. Rob led the field through Pilgrim’s Drop on lap one but ran wide at Hawthorn Bend under increasing pressure from MacDowall and losing the place with Herron, Newsham and Glew all coming through.
By the opening few laps MacDowall led from Herron and Newsham before the Northern Irish racer, yet to take his drive-through, had two wheels off at Graham Hill Bend causing him to spin and only narrowly missing Glew. This allowed Newsham and Phil to move into second and third as the two jostled for position.
In the midfield, Westbourne Motorsport with Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s James Colburn (Worthing) and Smith were both running strong in fifth and sixth places with Tordoff also glued to the back of Aron’s rear bumper.
With a clear track in front of him, MacDowall began to edge away while behind Newsham had his mirrors filled with the Clio Cup champion who also went on to set the NGK fastest lap. Eighteen-year-old Alex wasn’t able to get too far ahead though following the intervention of the Safety Car on lap seven to help with the retrieval of Mark Hazell’s (Ilanhennock) JHR Developments car at Druids.
Lap 10 saw the race resume with an extended distance of 14-laps. MacDowall timed the re-start well to get away cleanly followed by Newsham and Glew while further down the order, Tordoff and Smith were running nose-to-tail after Aron ran wide at Westfield.
The next lap saw waved yellow flags at Druids due to Lloyd’s stranded Total Control Racing car. As the field came round to pass, Glew saw a gap up the inside of Newsham with the two making contact and causing the 42-year-old to lose the place.
Out in front, MacDowall was now starting his 14th and final lap with a cushion of nearly two seconds over second place Glew. Just behind, Colburn was making a last minute charge on Gaffney for fourth place with Rob just managing to hold off the 16-year-old.
MacDowall – who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day – duly crossed the line to take his fourth win of the season with Glew in second and Newsham picking up the remaining podium spot. However, a post race investigation by the Clerk of the Course found a technical infringement with Newsham’s car, excluding him from the race and promoting Gaffney to third. Colburn subsequently took fourth with Smith rounding off the top five. Despite starting from the back of the grid, Mike Robinson drove an impressive race to finish ninth.
Commenting on his weekend and the 2009 season Glew said: “Winning the last race has been a great way to end the season which has just been fantastic for both me and the team. I didn’t need to race this weekend but I wanted to help Pyro secure the Entrants prize. I’m still in talks with my sponsors but my plan is to move into BTCC next season with testing scheduled over the winter with a number of the current teams.”
Commenting on his weekend, Vice Champion MacDowall said: “I’ve tried to take the fight to Phil this season but he’s a very good driver and deserved to win. I’m pleased to end the season as Vice-Champion and another win as it’s been a while and hope when I return next year I can go into the series as title favourite.”
Third place in round 20 Newsham said: “Round 20 was a good race and a good way to round off a thoroughly enjoyable season. We’ve had our ups and downs and it’s been a learning curve for me and the team but we’ve shown we have the pace and look forward to returning next year.”
Gaffney, commenting on his maiden podium, added: “You don’t expect to get your first podium through a technicality but I’m pleased none the less and really enjoyed this weekend.”
2009 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin provisional drivers’ standings (including dropped scores) – round 20:
1st Phil Glew GBR Team Pyro 561 pts
2nd Alex MacDowall GBR Total Control Racing 445 pts
3rd Andrew Herron IRL JHR Developments 362 pts
4th Aron Smith IRL Team Pyro 324 pts
5th Dave Newsham GBR Amery Motorsport 294 pts
6th Mike Robinson GBR Total Control Racing 289 pts
7th Lee Pattison GBR Range Storage Ltd/JHR 274 pts
8th Sam Tordoff GBR Total Control Racing 261 pts
9th James Colburn GBR Westbourne Motorsport/SVE 219 pts
10th Carl Bradley GBR Coastal Racing 218 pts