Eighteen drivers have so far registered for the 2018 season in which they will again be armed with identical racing versions of the potent Clio Renault Sport 220 Trophy.
Each of its 18 rounds (races) will take place at the British Touring Car Championship’s high profile events – guaranteeing it huge trackside crowds (38,500 on average in 2017) as well as live coverage on free-to-air television (ITV4 and ITV4 HD) and on-line (ITV.com).
A real feather in the Clio Cup’s cap this year is the fact that its 2015 title winner Ashley Sutton goes into the season as the reigning BTCC Champion. Last year’s winner Mike Bushell has also graduated to the BTCC to join many more past Clio Cup greats already there.
The question now is whose name will join theirs on the coveted Clio Cup Champion’s Trophy in 2018? The entry list announced during Thursday’s annual Media Day launch (at Silverstone) features five drivers to have already won races in the championship, including three-time Champion Paul Rivett who is part of a six-strong WDE Motorsport team.
His team-mates include proven race winner Lee Pattison, Dan Zelos (the holder of the fastest race lap in Clio Cup history – set at Thruxton last year), the highly determined Sam Osborne and Nicolas Hamilton and newcomer Nathan Edwards.
Meanwhile Team Pyro, which has won six of the last eight drivers’ titles and also last year held on to its Entrants Trophy crown, is fielding five cars. Max Coates, another with race wins to his name, and 2017 front-runner Daniel Rowbottom join exciting teenage talents Jack McCarthy, Bradley Burns and Zak Fulk in its line-up.
Westbourne Motorsport will run two cars – for 2011 runner-up James Colburn and, twice a winner in his debut season last year, James Dorlin respectively – while the rapid Brett Lidsey represents the increasingly competitive MRM squad.
And there’s a new team to watch for – Matrix Motorsport with four immaculately turned out cars for former BTCC racers Michael Epps and Andy Wilmot, another of 2017’s quick rookies Aaron Thompson, and team boss Jeff Alden.
Also new is a revised points scoring system – for the top 15 finishers only, plus (a la BTCC) a bonus point going to any driver who leads a race – and the Michelin race tyre that is used by the championship. Michelin’s return in 2017 played a part in 14 new qualifying and race lap records being achieved and more are set to tumble this year as it brings in a specially developed slick tyre that uses the very latest construction methods.
The 2018 Renault Clio Cup starts at the famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent in just over three weeks (Sat 7/Sun 8 April)…
Renault Sport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager Will Fewkes commented: “The scene is set for a truly memorable season in 2018 – the entries we have received so far are absolutely top class, re-emphasising the UK Clio Cup’s position as Europe’s premier single make saloon car championship.
“We’ve got the cars, the professionalism, the organisation, the racing heritage and a level of technical support that most others can only dream of. And we are part of UK motor sport’s biggest show by far – the BTCC.
“The depth of talent on the grid is also among the most exciting the UK Clio Cup has seen since it first ran in 1992 and which of course has produced so many future stars of the BTCC and also touring car and GT competition both at home and overseas.
“Predicting who will be Champion in 2018 is impossible. But I do predict one of the most unpredictable and exciting seasons in Clio Cup history with many different winners and visitors to the podium – some of them old faces; some new. Roll on Brands Hatch in April!”
Entry List: 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup
No. Driver (NAT), Hometown, County, Team
2 Nathan Edwards (GBR)*, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, WDE Motorsport
4 Jack McCarthy (GBR), Bromley, Kent, Team Pyro
5 Lee Pattison (GBR), Halifax, West Yorkshirem, WDE Motorsport
6 Bradley Burns* (GBR), Farnham, Surrey, Team Pyro
7 James Colburn (GBR), Worthing, West Sussex, Westbourne Motorsport
12 Brett Lidsey (GBR), Northfleet, Kent, MRM
16 Daniel Rowbottom (GBR), Kidderminster, Worcs, Team Pyro
19 Jeff Alden (GBR), Cheltenham, Glos, Matrix Motorsport
21 Andy Wilmot (GBR), Dartford, Kent, Matrix Motorsport
22 Paul Rivett (GBR), Epsom Downs, Surrey, WDE Motorsport
28 Nicolas Hamilton (GBR), Welwyn Garden City, Herts, WDE Motorsport
32 James Dorlin (GBR), Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Westbourne Motorsport
34 Zak Fulk (GBR)*, Guildford, Surrey, Team Pyro
37 Michael Epps (GBR), Hemel Hempstead, Herts, Matrix Motorsport
41 Aaron Thompson (GBR), Romford, Essex, Matrix Motorsport
45 Dan Zelos (GBR), Dereham, Norfolk, WDE Motorsport
46 Sam Osborne (GBR), Worksop, Nottinghamshire, WDE Motorsport
71 Max Coates (GBR), Scorton, North Yorkshire, Team Pyro
* Graduates Cup (for drivers aged 23 & under 1 April 2018 and in their first full UK Clio Cup season)