The Renault UK Clio Cup title fight went down to the final lap of the season at Brands Hatch this past weekend (September 29/30) with James Dorlin eventually overhauling his rivals to provisionally be crowned champion in his second season in the series.
In what had been a pulsating season-long battle, four drivers descended on the Kent circuit in mathematical contention for the coveted title but when the dust settled on the weekend’s two races, the Westbourne Motorsport driver celebrated championship glory.
Having entered the weekend sitting third in the standings, the BRDC Superstar picked up silverware in race one before setting his sights on taking control of the championship battle in the final race of the year.
Launching from the outside of the front row, Dorlin overhauled Bradley Burns for the lead on the opening lap heading into Graham Hill Bend and soon made his escape. Behind, series leader Max Coates found himself in the thick of the action but could not make headway.
Despite having to deal with two safety car periods, the former Junior Saloon Car and Michelin Clio Cup Series champion held his nerve to take his sixth victory of the season and with it, the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup title.
Dorlin’s title, though, is provisional, pending an appeal to the MSA National Court by Paul Rivett and his WDE Motorsport team.
Commenting on his title win, Dorlin said: “This is the biggest achievement of my career so far, without a doubt.
“To win at this level in front of the British Touring Car teams, crowds and ITV cameras and because of the very high level of competition that the Clio Cup attracts means it carries massive credibility.
“I had all sorts thrown at me during the race but I knew so long as I kept the lead and it wasn’t Max in second then it was coming my way. Any pressure actually helped me stay focused and winning was the only thing on my mind.
“It’s great to get it the title with a sixth win and I have to say a massive ‘thank you’ to my team Westbourne Motorsport who I’ve come through the system with and sponsors Vantage Motor Group and GardX. And of course my family who’ve been with me all the way since I first started racing.”
Daniel Rowbottom, who had been in contention at the start of the weekend, produced a superlative performance in the opening encounter to storm to his third victory of the year. Converting pole position into the race lead, Rowbottom served up a mesmerising performance as he fended off the charging duo of Burns and Jack Young.
Further down the order the trio of Dorlin, Rivett and Coates diced but it was to be the Westbourne Motorsport driver that held the advantage. As the laps ticked by Young soon found himself in trouble as he was hit with a ten-second penalty for a false start – promoting the title trio.
The race however would not reach its conclusion following a heavy crash for Nicholas Reeve and Brett Lidsey at Dingle Dell. Reeve came off worse as his machine hit the tyre wall hard and subsequently rolled, causing substantial damage to his Specialized Motorsport machine.
Due to severe damage to the barrier, the race was red-flagged with Rowbottom declared the winner with Burns and Dorlin rounding off the podium.
For the full classification of results from all sessions, click here.