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– Crowds of 125,000 enjoy Clio Cup action at World Series by Renault.
– Sam Tordoff secures second win in frenzied rain-affected round 17.
– Double champion Paul Rivett claims lights-to-flag victory in round 18.

Sam Tordoff (Leeds) and Paul Rivett (Banstead) shared the honours during rounds 17 and 18 of the 2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin at the new Silverstone Grand Prix circuit on 18th/19th September as part of World Series by Renault.

A staggering 125,000 spectators watched Tordoff, driving for Total Control Racing, and BlueSquare Data/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Rivett secure the wins during Renault’s free motorsport weekend. A gamble on tyre choice helped 21-year-old Tordoff to victory during Saturday’s rain-affected round 17 while Rivett made light work of his pole position to collect the silverware in the weekend’s second race.

JHR Development’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) and 2010 Clio Cup Champion Dave Newsham (Inverness), racing for Team Pyro, shared the remaining podium spots in round 17 while TCR’s James Dixon (Maidstone) and Tordoff came home in second and third in round 18. Dixon and Tordoff also picked up the Graduate Cup class wins during the action-packed meeting with Sam now favourite to secure the overall honours. Meanwhile Pattison picked up both the NGK Spark Plugs Master Cup honours.

The weekend also saw the return of Clio veteran Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch), running with Mardi Gras Motorsport, with the 27-year-old unable to repeat his 2009 double World Series win, instead enduring a luckless weekend.

Lights-to-flag for Rivett…
Thousands of spectators watched as the drivers lined up on the grid for the start of Sunday’s round 18. Rivett headed the field with Newsham alongside him while Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) and Dixon sat eagerly on row two. Returnee Hodgetts should have lined up in fourth but was forced to start from the back of the gird, together with a 10-second penalty, after changing his rear tyres during qualifying, contravening the regulations.

Rivett took full advantage of his pole position to lead the field into the right-handed Copse with Newsham tucked in behind him while Dixon was able to get ahead of Colburn to lie in third. Pattison had also made ground passing TCR’s Mike Robinson (Surbiton) to move into sixth.

It wasn’t long before Rivett and Newsham pulled away leaving Dixon running a lonely third. Just behind Team Pyro’s Jack Goff (High Wycombe) and Tordoff were running nose-to-tail with Goff holding off Tordoff for another lap before the BRDC Rising Star snatched his fourth place away from him.

Although no change in the top four, Pattison was rapidly making ground moving into fifth with Team Pyro’s Jeff Smith (Wellingborough) also gaining a place further down the order. Robinson had also made up a couple of grid slots to seventh where he stayed until the end of the race.

Hodgetts meanwhile had been able to work his way from the back of the field to lie in 11th before contact at Vale with fellow returnee APO Sport’s Alex Osborne (Northampton) saw an end to both of their races and Osborne handed four penalty points.

As the time race neared its 25-minute duration, Rivett looked uncatchable and after setting the NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap, he soon crossed the line to take the chequered flag. As the 31-year-old celebrated he was unaware that just behind the battle for second, third and fourth places was still in full swing. Newsham had been on course for second until a puncture saw him limp home in 14th place – his lowest ever finish this season. Dixon duly capitalised to finished second and the Graduate Cup class winner with team-mate Tordoff in third. Pattison eventually finished fourth as well as the Masters Cup honours leaving Goff to round out the top five.

Tordoff’s gamble pays off…
Saturday’s round 17 could easily be summed up in two words, ‘tyre choice’. Barely 30 minutes before the 25-minute race got underway, spots of rain had begun to fall making the track damp but not wet. With teams and drivers uncertain as to whether the rain would ease or intensify, tyre choice proved difficult to fathom. By the time the drivers took to the grid almost every possible tyre combination was being used ranging from full wets, full slicks and even a mixture of slicks and wets.

As the race got underway it was pole-sitter Newsham, who had opted for slicks, who headed the field into the first corner for the opening 3.67-mile lap with fellow front-row sitter Rivett in second and Pattison working his way up to third shortly after the start. Tordoff, who had gambled on full wets, had also made good ground to lie in sixth. Team-mate Dixon hadn’t fared so well dropping well down the field although the 20-year-old still managed to secure the NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap in his short stint.

With drivers struggling for grip as the rain increased, the opening few laps saw several early retirements and places swapping throughout the field. Goff and Colburn in particular were having a great battle for third and fourth places with James just coming out on top before Goff spun out at Luffield.

Meanwhile at the front of the field Pattison, opting for a mixture of slicks on the front and wets on the rear, had briefly been leading until he outbraked himself handing the lead to Rivett with Newham in second and Lee tucking back in third. The rain continued to fall making the track increasingly slippery with drivers often going straight on at Brooklands due to the lack of traction.

When the Safety Car came out at the start of lap five to aid the recovery of some of the stricken cars, Rivett was still leading followed by Pattison, who had got ahead of Newsham, and then Tordoff and Smith. With each Safety Car lap taking around three minutes the clock continued to countdown and when racing resumed on lap seven there would be time for just two further laps.

Despite the conditions, the drivers continued to push with Newsham in particular holding his own despite being on full slicks. The penultimate lap though would ultimately determine the result of the race with Rivett clipping the gravel trap and dropping down the order as Tordoff took full advantage of his correct tyre choice to work his way into the lead.

Lap nine would prove the last with Tordoff – who was awarded the ELF/Atol Driver of the Meeting –

taking the chequered flag together with the Graduate Cup win with Pattison in second and the NGK Spark Plugs Masters Cup honours.  Newsham brought his car home in third to secure the final podium spot with Smith in fourth and Wilson taking a career best fifth.

Commenting on his weekend Tordoff said: “I chose to gamble on full wets in round 17 which paid off perfectly. I had more grip than any of the front-runners when the rain started to increase so I guess I was in the right place at the right time. The Safety Car period also played into my hands. In round 18 I just couldn’t match the guys at the front who were so quick and consistent but I’m really pleased with the podium and the weekend.”

Rivett, who picked up the honours in round 18, said: “I’m very pleased with the win and my thanks go to BlueSquare Data and Stancombe Vehicle Engineering. We knew the car was going to be strong this weekend and it showed. I knew Dave was closing in on me towards the end of the race and it is unfortunate his puncture meant we weren’t able to battle until the chequered flag. It’s been a great weekend though not just for the drivers but also for the fans and Renault have once again put on a fantastic weekend.”

The final rounds, 19 and 20, of the ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin take place at Kent’s Brands Hatch Indy circuit on 9th/10th October.

2010 ELF Renault Clio Cup with Michelin provisional drivers’ standings – round 18:
1st     Dave Newsham     GBR     Team Pyro      529 pts
2nd     Lee Pattison     GBR     JHR Developments      425 pts
3rd     Sam Tordoff     GBR     Total Control Racing      382 pts
4th     James Colburn     GBR     Westbourne Motorsport      317 pts
5th     Mike Robinson     GBR     Total Control Racing      306 pts
6th     Jake Packun     GBR     Team Pyro/Autosave      241 pts

Graduates Cup – round 16:
1st     Sam Tordoff     GBR     Total Control Racing       382 pts
2nd     James Colburn     GBR     Westbourne Motorsport       317 pts
3rd     Jake Packun     GBR     Team Pyro/Autosave       241 pts

NGK Spark Plugs Masters Cup – round 18:
1st     Dave Newsham     GBR     Team Pyro       529 pts
2nd     Lee Pattison     GBR     JHR Developments       425 pts
3rd     Jeff Smith     GBR     Team Pyro       216 pts

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