UK Clio Cup Storms Into Rockingham

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JamSport Racing headed to Rockingham (Corby, Northamptonshire) this past weekend, for the 13th and 14th rounds of the Renault UK Clio Cup. A track where Ant Whorton-Eales, championship leader heading into the weekend, bagged his first win of his Clio Cup career back in 2013, and took another win in 2015, too.

Running four drivers; Whorton-Eales, Chris Smiley, Luke Kidsley, and recently-returned George Jackson, the team were focussed on reeling in Team Pyro at the top of the constructors’ championship. Team Boss, Jamie Going, comments, “The momentum that JamSport Racing has picked up as the season has progressed has been impressive to see, and we all believe we can take it all the way, what with Ant fighting for the drivers’ championship, and all of us with our eyes fixed on the constructors’.”

Final practice sessions saw the JamSport drivers struggle slightly with pace, although the time difference between the top and bottom was only just over a second. Qualifying, again, saw a very fine split between times. Whorton-Eales found himself a little further down the table than he would have liked, in P10, for the first race, but managed to get a decent second-fastest time which put him P6 for race two. Kidsley managed a consistent 7th place for both races, while Chris Smiley had a time taken away through exceeding track limits, placing him 12th and 10th. George Jackson struggled to fight his way up the rankings, finding himself starting race 1 in 18th position, and doing one better for a 17th grid position for Sunday’s race.

These are the conditions for race 1 here at Rockingham! Lovely. #jamsportracing

A video posted by JamSport (@jamsportuk) on

In the run up to race one, as the cars were being warmed up in the paddock, the heavens opened and it set up for an incredibly wet race. 

Starting from 7th, Kidsley got a great start off the line, pushing himself into 4th by Deene hairpin, only to push too hard a few turns later and lose control of the back end, putting him onto the grass, and subsequently the gravel. An unfortunately abrupt end to his race, which Luke was frustrated at himself for, after giving himself such a positive start.

Chris Smiley had an impressive race, coming from 12th on the grid he fought his way up to a P5 finish. Further down the grid, George Jackson gained four places to cross the line in 13th, from starting second-to-last.

Stealing the show, however, was six-time winner so far this season, Ant Whorton-Eales. Repeating his heroic move from the same race in 2013 (which also experience very similar conditions), Ant got a characteristically bullet-like start off the line, which put him in P2 - from 10th - by half-way round the first lap. A safety car bunched the pack up, but Whorton-Eales was ready to pounce, and as the race got under way again, he stormed past Paul Rivett around the long, sweeping turn 1. The lead he then began to make for himself astonished all, with the 22-year-old completing the race a whopping 8.7 seconds ahead of Rivett.

Ant Whorton-Eales (GBR) JamSport with AWE Motorsport Renault Clio Cup

Ant commented, “What a race! I can’t recall driving in conditions like that. My start was very good and that got me into P2 to begin with. Then Rivett went low into Turn 1 at the restart and I knew the faster line would be higher up the banking so took full advantage. The car felt great in the wet and drawing clear wasn’t a problem.” Ant also gained an extra 2 points in the championship for fastest lap for the first race.

Ant Whorton-Eales (GBR) JamSport with AWE Motorsport Renault Clio Cup

Sunday was host to a highly anticipated second race, round 14, with many drivers looking to get a better result with weather conditions being the polar opposite of wet and windy race one. Kidsley in particular was looking to redeem himself from his early exit the day before, but was unfortunately struck with overheating issues. He managed to finish the race in 12th position, despite being visibly disadvantaged in his cars straight line speed.

Ant had another belter of a start, contesting for 2nd by the time they were getting to the second turn, although suffered a blow from Rivett half way round the first lap, pushing Ant out wide, forcing him to counter steer to avoid the grass. This put Whorton-Eales back a few places, and also compromised the pace of the car for duration of the race. Ant battled with Max Coates for 3rd position, eventually losing out in what turned out to be the focal point of the race, from a television perspective, finishing a still impressive 4th. Whereas Chris Smiley was involved in a hapless incident with Masters driver Lee Patterson (Team Cooksport) which forced Smiley to retire from the race.

Possibly the worst luck of the event went to George Jackson, who out braked himself, forcing him down the inside of a corner, onto the grass, which subsequently followed in his wheels clipping the curb and rolling his car onto its roof, sliding across the track, luckily missing surrounding cars and coming to a stop on the grass - which is also where his race came to end.

Overall, then, a mixed weekend for JamSport racing. Some very good results, some frustrating issues, but Ant is still looking very strong in the title race and the team are already looking onward to the next rounds, which will be held at Silverstone (Northamptonshire), where JamSport Racing will continue to put their mark on the Renault UK Clio Cup, with the goal of bringing home yet more silverware.

Thank you to everyone that came out to support us.

- JSRHQ

Chris Smiley (GBR) JamSport Renault Clio
George Jackson (GBR) Team Cooksport Renault Clio Cup

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