Tuesday 18 December 2012

BARC launches new Renault Clio series with Michelin

Renault Clio Cup Racers Take On Snetterton
BARC is now offering the thrills of the Renault Clio Cup on a smaller budget with the new Michelin backed series
Renault UK, the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) and Michelin are delighted to announce the launch of a brand new entry-level race category for 2013, the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre, which is aimed at providing a professionally run, cost-effective first step into saloon car racing.

Targeting complete circuit novices, seasoned track day participants and also competitors with prior race experience, the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre is expected to run across four events next year with the potential to become a fully-fledged championship in 2014.

Based around the third generation racing Clio, as currently run in the sister Renault UK Clio Cup, the freshly launched series will become the new home for the existing 2.0-litre car when it is replaced in the headline British Touring Car Championship-supporting category in 2014.

“Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre perfectly fills the gap in the market for those who enjoy track days, such as our own very successful Renaultsport Trackdays, but who want to make the step into actual competition without moving straight into the Renault UK Clio Cup”, said Jeremy Townsend, Renault UK Communications Director.

“In just a single week since the BARC was confirmed as the new promoter of the Renault UK Clio Cup, we already have this plan in place to extend the life of the third generation Clio when the new 1.6-litre turbocharged car arrives in Renault UK Clio Cup in 2014. The creation of the Michelin Clio Cup Series is a fantastic development for the Renaultsport brand.”

Although the calendar of events is still to be ratified, provisionally the series is expected to begin over the weekend 11th/12th May at Snetterton in Norfolk – running with the Protyre Formula Renault Championship – with a second event at Croft in North Yorkshire in July.

Two more race meetings are also planned, the first at Rockingham in Northamptonshire over the weekend 10th/11th August, with the final event set to take place at Brands Hatch in September. There is also a desire to run further events during the winter of 2013.

Conversion kit and Michelin road tyres to make Clio Cup Series even more accessible
In a move to ease the transition into competitive racing for rookie drivers, the introduction of a conversion kit has been confirmed which will enable owners of road-going Clio Renaultsport 197 and Clio Renaultsport 200 cars to transform them to track specification for as little as £3,000. Included in the kit is a roll cage, seat belts, fire system with extinguisher and suspension from the Clio rally car.

Alongside the main headline class for thoroughbred racing Clios and a ‘Road’ class for the converted cars, there will also be two driver categories – ‘Expert’ for those with previous racing experience and ‘Sport’ for competition novices.

One of the key facets of the newly created series, as per the headline sponsorship from Michelin, will be the use of Michelin Pilot Sport 3 road tyres as the renowned manufacturer brings its flagship sports tyre into competitive UK motorsport for the first time.

Michelin Logo on Renault Clio Cup Car
Michelin maintains its links with the popular French Hatchbacks
“It’s very important for the Michelin brand to remain closely linked with Renault and by being the official tyre partner for the new Clio Cup Series, we have a perfect opportunity to showcase the high performance of our Pilot Sport 3 road tyre”, said Michelin UK head of marketing Jianni Geras.

“The road tyres are less aggressive than racing slicks, so this will only help the cost-effectiveness of the series. In the current climate, a series like this is the perfect place for racing newcomers to learn and develop their skills. Michelin is delighted to be the headline sponsor of, what we fully expect to be, a very popular new category in UK motorsport.”

Something of great importance to the success of the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre will be the support of existing Renault UK Clio Cup teams who have strongly welcomed the announcement and creation of the category.

Team Pyro’s Mark Hunt and Scuderia Vittoria’s Danny Buxton, two of the lead pioneers behind the idea to establish a club-level series for the incredibly successful third generation Clio Cup car, are both very confident there is already a strong market for the new category.

“I think it’s absolutely brilliant BARC, Renault and Michelin are introducing this series, there’s a massive market for it and in the current climate it’s exactly the sort of thing that’s needed”, said Hunt, “If we can have race meetings over two days, rather than three, it’ll be great and there’s no threat of it taking customers away from the UK championship.

“It’ll be a great stepping stone and, more importantly, it means we’re not throwing away 25 very good Clio Cup cars – for me it’s brilliant. I see it as being like the BARC Formula Renault, we’ve all seen how successful that’s been for people who can’t afford the bigger budgets, it’s a mega idea.”

Buxton, the 2001 Renault UK Clio Cup Champion, added: “Mark [Hunt], Tom [Ferrier – Scuderia Vittoria co-owner] and I originally came up with the idea and spoke to Ian Watson at BARC about it and, since then, it’s gathered pace massively. Michelin has been a big supporter of Clio racing over the years and it’s great they’re involved with this, running road tyres will help to keep costs down.

“I think there will be a very strong market for this series. Gentleman drivers, for example, who are busy with other commitments on a Saturday can still race on Sunday and that’s a market we need to aim for. The conversion kit then really opens it up to people who always thought racing was out of their price bracket, people will be able to get out on circuit in a proper car for sensible money.”

Precise technical details and sporting guidelines for the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre will be issued in the New Year and the category will be launched to the motorsport community on the BARC stand at the Autosport International Show, on 10th/11th/12th/13th January, at Birmingham’s NEC.

Provisional 2013 Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre Calendar
Races 1&2 Snetterton, Norfolk - 11th/12th May
Races 3&4 Croft, North Yorkshire - 13th/14th July
Races 5&6 Rockingham, Northamptonshire - 10th/11th August

Races 7&8 Brands Hatch, Kent - 21st/22nd September

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