The final round of the British Touring Car Championship saw Alex score a top five finish in only his second Renault UK Clio Cup race weekend.
The final round of this year’s UK Renault Clio Cup Championship was held at the historic Brands Hatch GP circuit, last weekend. With championship positions still to be confirmed, it was going to be one of the hardest contested rounds.
Alex, who made his debut in the Championship at the last round at Silverstone, where he qualified an amazing fifth position in his first race weekend, was determined to build on everything he had learned.
The Brands Hatch GP circuit is one of the most challenging circuits in the UK, and a real test for any driver.
Alex, who is 16 years of age, and the youngest driver in the championship, is no stranger to Brands Hatch as he has raced there previously in the Ginetta Junior Championship.
On Friday, Alex had two 40 minute practice sessions to set up his car, ready for Saturday’s qualifying session.
“Driving the Clio was amazing around the GP circuit, it is so fast and really challenging to get the best lap time. In free practice we tested different tyre options and I think we have a good set-up for Saturday’s qualifying session, “ commented Alex.
Alex did two qualify runs on Saturday and with the benefit of new tyres, he qualified in 13th and 8th position for the two races.
Twenty Renault Clio cars contesting this year’s UK championship lined up for the first race on Saturday, with Alex starting on the sixth row of the grid. The start at Brands Hatch is very challenging as the cars race into the daunting blind, down hill Paddock Hill bend, before braking hard for the slow Druids hairpin.
A good start saw Alex move into 10th place as the cars completed the first lap but, the advantage he had made was immediately reduced as the safety car was released onto the track due to a car crashing into the safety barrier. After one lap, the safety car was withdrawn and the race continued. Alex battled his way through the field lap by lap and on the 9th lap he was up to 8th place, when the safety car was released again.
One more lap under the safety car and the race resumed. Alex battled and caught the cars in front and moved into 7th place as the chequered flag fell. However, when he arrived back into parc ferme, he was informed the two cars in front of him had been given time penalties for exceeding track limits, moving Alex up to fifth place overall, and the third place graduate driver.
“What a race. It was proper Clio racing with hard moves and a lot of action everywhere. I really enjoyed the race and finishing 5th is fantastic in only my second Clio race. A big thank you to Cooksport who gave me a fantastic car,“ reflected a very happy Alex.
The second race on Sunday was staged in front of thousands of BTCC fans and the ITV cameras at a sunny Brands Hatch circuit. Starting this time on the third row of the grid, Alex got caught up in the chaos at the start and dropped to 13th as a number of cars crashed out on the first lap.
Four laps were completed under the safety car before the race restarted but it only took Alex one lap to start moving back through the field. A great drive through the field saw Alex take the chequered flag in 9th overall and set the third fastest lap time.
“I did not get a good start and then I had to take avoiding action as a number of cars collided, this dropped me down the field. Then, during the race I had to avoid my team mate who hit the pit wall in front of me. The hard braking I think overheated the brakes and glazed over the pads, as afterwards I hardly had any brakes. This made it very interesting as I could not slow the car as I needed to. Anyway, another top ten finish is a perfect end to the race weekend,” said Alex.
The Renault UK Clio Cup is seen as the feeder series to the British Touring Car Championship, and as such is one of the most competitive championships in the UK. In just two race weekends, and still only 16 years of age Alex has shown he can race with the best, and will now be doing everything to be back in the championship next year with one objective, to go for the championship.