1996-1999: The Spi­der Cup years

Motor Sport News - - Clio Cup At 25 -

The Clio Cup may now be 25 years old but it hasn’t run through­out the last quar­ter of a cen­tury. Be­tween 1996 and 1999 it had a brief hia­tus and was re­placed by the Re­nault Spi­der Cup.

How­ever, it was far from a smooth tran­si­tion from the hatch­back to the road­ster. Tim Jack­son, who was in charge of Re­nault’s mo­tor­sport pro­grammes in the 1990s, says it was prob­a­bly a mis­take to make the change.

“Switch­ing to the Spi­der, in hind­sight, pos­si­bly wasn’t the best de­ci­sion,” he says. “It took us into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent area fi­nan­cially and we were cre­at­ing some­thing from scratch as cars were two or three times more ex­pen­sive than Clios.”

There were also a few teething is­sues with the new car, with the sus­pen­sion among the prob­lem ar­eas. “It was more of a bap­tism of fire than the start of any Clio sea­son,” re­calls Jack­son. “But we pro­duced some ex­cel­lent driv­ers like Andy Pri­aulx and Ja­son Plato.”

Plato was the in­au­gu­ral cham­pion in 1996 in a dom­i­nant dis­play dur­ing which he won nine of the 13 races. But Pri­aulx was even more suc­cess­ful, win­ning ev­ery sin­gle event in the fi­nal year of the Spi­ders in 1999.

In be­tween, Bryce Wil­son tri­umphed in 1997 while tour­ing car race win­ner Dan Eaves won the ti­tle in 1998.

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Tour­ing car leg­end Plato was first Spi­der cham­pion

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