1996-1999: The Spider Cup years
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.
Owen was star of Pre ’03 contests
Touring car legend Plato was first Spider champion