James Colburn took to the top step of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup podium for the second time rounding off a perfect weekend for himself and the Westbourne Motorsport team at a soaking wet Thruxton.
Colburn, a regular to the podium in 2011, was delighted with the result. “An excellent two wins! The weather was torrential. I could barely see where I was going at some points. It’s been fantastic though, great for the team and hopefully we can take our championship from here.”
“You could barely see your own front bonnet it was that bad. You would be going down into Church and you had to guess where your braking points were because it was changing that much. There were different puddles coming from all different places. It was unbelievable!”
Due to heavy rain and high winds, the race was started in single file under safety car conditions for the first three laps.
Upon the restart, former Ginetta Junior champion Adam Bonham took the lead into turn one. Soon after Josh Files made his move to take second but it was to be short lived as both Bonham and Files ran wide at Noble dropping Files to third and forcing Bonham to return to the pits.
With the front runners out of place, PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Paul Rivett made the most of the opportunity to take the lead. The increasingly wet conditions seemingly suiting the multiple Clio Cup winner, who is soon to make his debut in the P1 AquaX jet-ski championship.
The first victims of the treacherous conditions were Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith and Saturday’s Rookie Cup winner Mike Bushell both meeting the barriers at speed due to standing water at Allard causing the release of the safety car.
Three laps later, the safety car lights were off and the rain soaked race began yet again. Rivett lead down into turn one, Colburn in second and Team Pyro team mates Files and Jack Goff fighting for third position, closely followed by Josh Cook. With a five-car train battling for the lead, contact soon ensued between leading Rookie Josh Cook and Files, the latter spinning onto the grass forcing Files to rejoin down in 13th position.
Up ahead, Rivett was able to pull out a short lead from second placed Colburn, but on the final lap, Colburn gained a good tow to pass the triple-champion into turn one, which he held to the chequered flag.
“It was an absolutely great race,” said Rivett. “A second place but it was a shame I wasn’t quite able to hold on for the win. To be honest, I thought we were on the last lap and we weren’t so that being the reason as to why James got through”
“The conditions were absolutely treacherous out there so I’m just glad I brought the PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering car home. I’ve never driven in conditions as bad as that before.”
“I’m really, really pleased with the final result. We didn’t have a great qualifying session and we have turned it into two great race results meaning more points in the bag. Overall, it’s been a great weekend.”
Current championship leader Jack Goff held onto third to take the final podium position. “It was lethal to be honest. It was touch and go whether the race would go ahead, the conditions were that bad. Even behind the safety car it was hard to keep the car in a straight line, I’m just glad I was able to bring the car back in one piece and keep more points on the board for the championship.”
Scuderia Vittoria’s James Dixon had a quiet but positive race, starting from eighth, he made his way up to finish fourth and take the fastest lap.
Cook, looking for his first Rookie Cup win of the season, was unable to hold his fourth position, losing out to fellow rookie and ex-Swedish Junior Ice Racing racer, Kim Andersson on the final lap.
“It’s great,” said Andersson. “The wet conditions are my favourite as I’m more comfortable with them. It was a little like rallying and ice racing so I’m hoping for more rain later in the season.”
Also making progress from the start, Lithuanian Ignas Gelzinis finished seventh from eleventh, followed by Vic Covey who made up nine places from the grid to take the flag in eighth. In ninth was ex-rally driver Adam Gould recovering well from a spin on the opening laps.
Rounding out the top ten was Finesse Motorsport Ltd’s 19-year old Aaron Williamson who made the most of the wet conditions to finish in 10th position having started in down in 23rd after struggling with mechanical problems throughout the weekend.
Just behind Williamson and narrowly missing out on a top ten finish, Scotsman Finlay Crocker came home in 11th place to take the ELF Masters Trophy, 4.958secs ahead of Saturday’s Masters trophy winner Simon Belcher in 12th place.
“I really enjoyed it, when I could see where I was going, less fun when I couldn’t see,” expressed the former Scottish Mini Challenge driver. “I lost two places at Church on the last lap because I didn’t even see they were there to be honest. To finish 11th from starting 22nd is quite good, I’m very happy with that.”
Having had two top ten grid positions, Total Control Racing’s Nicolas Hamilton had a mixed weekend in the difficult conditions, spinning twice in the second race concluding his day in eighteenth place.
The championship now takes a break, resuming at the Cheshire circuit, Oulton Park on June 9-10, where the tight title battle is set to continue.