Seventeen-year-old Bradley Burns (Farnham) became the youngest winner in Renault UK Clio Cup history with victory in both the championship’s rounds at Silverstone over the weekend.
Results elsewhere, however, mean there will be a dramatic four-way fight for the title between Max Coates (Scorton), Paul Rivett (Epsom Downs), James Dorlin (Barnsley) and Daniel Rowbottom (Kidderminster) when the championship arrives at Brands Hatch in Kent for its final two rounds of 2018 in a fortnight’s time (Sat 29/Sun 30 Sept).
Burns, a protégé of top British Touring Car squad Team BMR, had been threatening to break his victory duck in the Clio Cup for some time and this was the weekend it all came good for the youngster. And in some style.
To begin with Burns, driving for the Team Pyro outfit, took pole position for both races with a new qualifying lap record around Silverstone’s short National circuit configuration.
In race one he was beaten away from the line by WDE Motorsport’s Rivett, but fought back against the three-time Champion to regain the lead before going on to achieve his maiden victory. In doing so Burns, aged just 17 years, one month and 14 days old, became the championship’s youngest winner to date…
Rivett followed in a close second while third, thanks to a meteoric drive from 16th on the grid, was DRM’s Rowbottom as Westbourne Motorsport’s Dorlin followed in fourth.
For Coates, however, the race was a disaster as his Pyro car was forced into a spin and retirement – this helping Rivett to move past him into the championship lead with Dorlin and Rowbottom still in touch in third and fourth in the standings.
There was to be further high drama in race two – held on Sunday before a huge Silverstone crowd and also broadcast live on ITV4…
Burns ran out the winner again, this time after shrugging off the advances of Dorlin who had led the opening lap but then had to settle for second after coming under pressure himself from Rivett in third.
Coates crossed the line in fourth with Rowbottom in eighth, his title chances seemingly now over.
Officials though would later disqualify Rivett from the result after investigating an incident during the race. This should have promoted Coates to third but, after reviewing a separate incident, the officials also gave him a time penalty so he stayed fourth. Instead WDE’s Lee Pattison (Halifax) inherited third.
The WDE team has lodged appeals against both decisions – to be heard at a later date by UK motor sport’s governing body the MSA’s National Court. In the meantime the amendments to race two’s result have had a significant bearing on the title race prior to the Brands Hatch finale.
Coates will go there leading the standings ahead of Rivett and Dorlin with just seven points covering the three drivers. A maximum of 56 will be up for grabs in Brands’s final two rounds… Furthermore, Rowbottom comes back into play, now suddenly just 49 points adrift of Coates at the top of the table. The order is: Coates 277; Rivett 271; Dorlin 270; Rowbottom 228.
Elsewhere at Silverstone, Burns’s results have provisionally given him the prized Graduates Cup trophy (for young drivers in their first full season of Clio Cup competition) and Pyro is almost certain to retain its Entrants Trophy title. However, others also impressed…
Among them was Matrix Motorsport’s Aaron Thompson (Romford) who enjoyed by far his most competitive outing of the season with strong pace in both qualifying and race trim. Team-mate Michael Epps (Hemel Hempstead) and WDE’s Dan Zelos (Dereham) also came close to leading for the first time in 2018 in race one before being shuffled back.
The emerging MRM team had plenty to be proud of, too, as its rising 16-year-old star Jack Young (Belfast) took career-best sixth and then fifth place results (in race two he came from 16th on the grid) and team-mate Brett Lidsey (Northfleet) two top-ten results, also setting the fastest lap in both races.
CLICK HERE for full race results from Silverstone.