James Dixon - Silverstone Clio Cup PodiumJames Dixon bagged his fourth podium finish from the last six races during round 14 of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup at Silverstone on Sunday, and coupled with a fourth place finish in round 13 he managed to out-score championship leaders Jack Goff and Paul Rivett.

Dixon, who goes into the season finale two weeks from now third in the driver standings, should have started on the front row of the grid for both races but he was relegated to third and fourth on the grid for the two encounters after being adjudged to have exceeded track limits in qualifying.

In the first Silverstone encounter, the Kent racer slipped to fourth initially but after an excursion at Becketts on lap one for Rivett he moved into third and then second. Running side-by-side with Adam Bonham into lap two, Dixon made second position his on the run to Becketts but was then shuffled back to third at Brooklands.

Remaining third in the tightly bunched lead group, Dixon was mugged into Copse on lap 10 and despite piling on the pressure to Ant Whorton-Eales ahead he had to settle for fourth at the flag, just 0.3 seconds shy of the podium.

Team-mate Rob Smith, who delivered one of the best qualifying performances of his rookie season with the 12th fastest time, delivered a sensational start. Rocketing off the line, he moved into eighth on the opening lap and was set for seventh until he was delayed by Goff and Rivett when they made contact and rejoined the circuit directly in front of the TCR man.

Even so, he brought home a ninth place result and with the addition of 14th place in race two, from 18th on the grid, Smith has climbed into the championship top 16 and has a good chance of closing down on the top 12 at the season finale.

For Nicolas Hamilton, the weekend proved to be a frustrating one when a strong 14th position starting slot for race one – qualifying just 0.5 seconds off pole position – ended up as a 19th place result after a tangle with Will Davison on lap 11 at Brooklands. Hamilton had run as high as 12th early on and was comfortably on course for one of his stronger results of the year until the excursion.

In round 14, the second-year racer’s luck worsened when he was forced to retire on the opening lap after contact. Trying to avoid a spinning car ahead, Hamilton was then collected by another car, incurring significant damage to his Clio.

Dixon, meanwhile, remained fourth off the start of race two but on lap 11 he took third when Bonham went wide. In a carbon-copy of race one, the lead group were split by hardly anything and Dixon took the flag on lap 14 just 0.3 seconds shy of second place.

“It’s great to have James on the podium again but we were really disappointed he didn’t get his second place back in qualifying”, commented team boss Brookes, “We couldn’t see what he’d done wrong at all but it’s one of those things, you have to accept the decisions. We felt we had the pace to win had he started on the front row, still two good results though.

“Rob has really come on strong, he put together a brilliant drive in the first race and had a fantastic start – plus he was a tenth of a second quicker than James which shows how much he’s improved. Nic had an unfortunate weekend, he is moving forward and getting better and better but the results just haven’t shown it this year. He’s had terrible luck but hopefully Brands will be good to him.”

Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit will host the season finale for both the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup and the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup two weeks from now, on 20th/21st October.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.