JAMES “Every­one stops to watch the Clios”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - AGREE/DIS­AGREE? mn.let­ters@hay­mar­

It doesn’t seem like 25 years. We cel­e­brate the Re­nault UK Clio Cup’s an­niver­sary this week with a spe­cial fea­ture ( see pages 22-23) and it is a cat­e­gory that keeps go­ing from strength to strength.

Since the demise of the Ford Credit Fi­esta Cham­pi­onship, it has been the step­ping off point for so many Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship stars. And it has proved to be the per­fect train­ing ground – just look at the job Ash Sut­ton has man­aged in the 2016 BTCC.

The reign­ing Re­nault Clio Cup cham­pion has stepped up to the fac­tory Triple Eight Rac­ing MG6, is well in­side the top 10 of the points and has al­ready taken his maiden pole po­si­tion at Don­ing­ton Park in April.

He is only the lat­est suc­cess story – there are dozens of oth­ers.

The Re­nault UK Clio Cup has be­come es­sen­tial view­ing for any­one in the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship pad­dock and that is not just be­cause they are look­ing at the tal­ents of the fu­ture: it is be­cause the rac­ing has been, and con­tin­ues to be, su­perb.

The lat­est gen­er­a­tion of cup racer, the Clio Re­nault­sport 200 Turbo, in­tro­duced in 2014, brings it much closer to the per­for­mance of a BTCC car and gives driv­ers the chance to get used to driv­ing a proper rac­ing car. It has brake up­grades that are much more in line with those that the younger rac­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence fur­ther up the mo­tor­sport­ing lad­der.

The bat­tle for the 2015 hon­ours be­tween Sut­ton, Ant Whor­ton-eales and Ash Hand will go down as one of the best fights in the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship sup­port cat­e­gory’s his­tory.

This year it is just as open, with four dif­fer­ent win­ners across the six races that have taken place so far, and old mas­ter, three-time cham­pion Paul Rivett is lead­ing the way.

Re­nault’s com­mit­ment to the sport in the United Kind­gom has been un­wa­ver­ing over four decades and it re­ally does de­serve huge credit for that. It has prob­a­bly put more into its ef­forts in the UK than any other main­stream road car man­u­fac­turer.

Through the var­i­ous ver­sions of the Re­nault 5, in­clud­ing the ridicu­lously en­ter­tain­ing turbo ma­chines, Spi­ders, For­mula Re­nault and Clios, the French firm has de­liv­ered one-make series that fill a spe­cific gap.

So here’s to the suc­cess that Re­nault Clios has al­ready had, and those that lay in its fu­ture. And here is to the next 25 years.

The French hatch­backs are a huge suc­cess

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