Leading team Scuderia Vittoria suffered a mixed weekend of emotion in the Renault UK Clio Cup season opener at Brands Hatch (30/31 March), with Finlay Crocker proving to be the cream of the crop, whilst the team’s championship challengers struggled to get off the mark in Britain’s premier one-make saloon car championship.
A difficult qualifying session saw KX Akademy backed Stefan Hodgetts and Ant Whorton-Eales line up in 12th and 13th position respectively for Round 1 of the competitive championship.
Both drivers soon redeemed themselves on the start however. Stefan Hodgetts, a Vice Champion in the series back in 2007, drove impeccably, to storm through the field to fourth position before receiving a drive-through for exceeding the track limits, dashing his hopes of a strong points finish.
Whorton-Eales, who remained in close pursuit of Hodgetts for the duration of the race, took the chequered flag in sixth position behind Paul Rivett.
Finlay Crocker opened his 2013 account with a Masters Cup victory after completing the race in 17th position. The One Call Insurance backed driver was able to finish the race three places higher than his nearest challenger, Graham Field.
Round 2 of the championship saw Hodgetts line up on the grid in ninth position, whilst Whorton-Eales followed in 13th. Both drivers gained a textbook start, with Whorton-Eales surging through the field to briefly sit in second position, before slipping back into the clutches of Files, who made contact with Whorton-Eales, damaging his steering in the process.
With nothing between the first eight cars out at the front, Whorton-Eales and Hodgetts sat in fifth and seventh position respectively, unable to progress despite making tireless attempts.
An impressive start from Scuderia Vittoria newcomer Josh Wakefield saw him gain no less than ten places on his first lap encounter.
The former British GT4 contender continued to fight for a debut top ten finish but slipped back to 13th position as the race progressed, whilst karting ace Devon Modell drove a superb second race to work his way from 18th to 11th over 21 laps.
The conclusion of Round 2 would see Crocker do the double after fending off reigning class champion Simon Belcher, the pairing were locked in a tight battle for position during the closing stages.
Ronnie Klos suffered a weekend of bad luck on his return to the one-make series. After making possibly two of the best starts on the grid in both races, the Scotsman failed to finish both races, but will be sure to get his campaign back on track next time out.
Speaking of an eventful first weekend in the Renault UK Clio Cup, Scuderia Vittoria Director Danny Buxton is sure that the team can get back on track at Donington Park in 3 weeks time.
“We’ve had a weekend full of ups and downs,” said Buxton. “It wasn’t the best qualifying session for us, but the guys got stuck in and did whatever they could to recover in both races.”
“I’m convinced that we have a championship winning package, so we’ll continue to work hard with the drivers to ensure that we are on top at Donington Park.”
“I couldn’t have asked anymore of Finlay Crocker this weekend, I’m delighted that he has come away from Brands Hatch with two Masters Cup victories. I’m sure that he’ll be right on it again at Donington Park with Ronnie Klos in close pursuit.”
The Renault UK Clio Cup will burst back into action in three weeks time at Leicestershire’s Donington Park on 20/21 April.
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Photo by Matt Hill Photography.