James Dorlin has needed just three meetings to take his maiden victory in the Renault UK Clio Cup Championship at Thruxton circuit, and he’s a rookie too.
The Barnsley 18 year-old is a ‘BRDC Rising Star 2017’, recognised by the prestigious British Racing Driver’s Club as ‘having the potential to succeed throughout 2017 and beyond’.
He is narrowly leading the Graduates Cup class for young, first-year drivers - lined up a career-best 4th on the grid for both races, reflected, “My third UK Clio Cup event and two 4ths on the grid – I have to be happy with that considering I didn’t qualifying inside the top-6 at either Brands Hatch or Donington.”
Dorlin made a demon start to round 5 slotting into 2nd, before swapping places after a couple of laps with James Colburn at the right-hand Campbell bend.
Holding that position to the end, it was a first podium outright for Dorlin finishing close behind in 3rd.
Explained Dorlin, “I could see James was a bit quicker than me in the early stages so didn’t fight when he went for the move (for the lead) and hoped he might start fighting with (leader) Mike which would bring me back into it. This feels like a real breakthrough result for me in only my fifth UK Clio Cup race”.
In round 6, Dorlin started from 4th on the grid but was immediately up to 2nd at the start and pressuring the leader, and former Champion, Mike Bushell’s car.
Putting Bushell under huge pressure he stayed there all the way until the exit of the very last bend, the Club Chicane, when, with slightly greater momentum he jinked right, gently tapping Bushell’s rear bumper, to be able to get alongside the championship-leader with the finish line approaching.
Then it was a straight drag race to the line and as they approached it, teenager Dorlin nosed ahead to pip Bushell, edging him out by 0.067 seconds and grab his debut win in only his sixth Renault UK Clio Cup race.
An ecstatic Dorlin commented, “That was just amazing – I thought I would have to settle for 2nd then coming into the last chicane I was closer than I had been before, we made just a bit of contact, I seemed to get better momentum than Mike exiting the chicane and he seemed to run a bit wide. That allowed me to get up alongside him but those final 200 yards where the longest 200 yards of my life! Had I, hadn’t I? I am absolutely over the moon. To do this at my third ever event in this championship, I am really, really happy!”
All around the circuit Dorlin had been flashing his lights at Bushell, he explained, “I was doing anything I could do to slow Mike down, ‘cos he is rapid round here – but it was brilliant”.
The Clerk of the Course later demoted Dorlin for the manoeuvre on Bushell, only for a successful appeal to reinstate him in the results, that gave him 4th in the Championship, overall, and extending his Graduates Cup lead by 12 points.
There were more race wins for Dronfield’s JHR Developments team in the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship at Thruxton.
From Round 6 pole position Seb Priaulx led away, with teammates Tom Gamble close behind and Harry Dyson in a six car fight for 4th.
Gamble took the lead for 2 laps, but running wide at Church dropped him to 9th.
At mid-race, Priaulx reclaimed the lead for one lap, but then dropped back and with two laps to go, he was hit with a track limits penalty, dropping him to 5th on corrected times.
On the road, Gamble re-claiming places mounted a last minute charge past the two rivals to move into 2nd. As the flag came out however, the leader was given a track limits time penalty, dropping him to 4th and handed the win to an unsuspecting Gamble, “A very difficult, the race, that just went on forever - but I really enjoyed it!”
Rookie racer Dyson joined him on the rostrum: in the rookie category Dyson had JHR Developments teammate Adam Smalley complete the rookie podium.
Post-race both Priaulx and Dyson were excluded from the results with ‘technical infringements’.
Reduced in length by one lap following a lengthy red flag earlier, round 7 had Priaulx was in the lead with Harry King passing Gamble for second.
As King challenged Priaulx, Gamble seized an opportunity and dived into the lead as Dyson took 3rd, with Smalley in 4th.
JHR teammates Gamble and Priaulx running nose-to-tail, 0.144 seconds apart worked together to build a comfortable gap before they started to fight for the lead. –
Having built a 6.9 seconds lead over the 3rd-placed car, with two laps to go Priaulx passed Gamble for the lead on the pit straight, but Gamble refused to let go and chased Priaulx to the drop of the flag.
Smalley, in a nine car fight for 3rd, took the lead of the rookies category until too much speed into Church sent him off-line and down the order, losing what was an almost certain rookie podium.
Priaulx was delighted at his second win of the season, “I can’t believe I just got it at the end, I did really well to pull away, just so happy to win. We planned the team tactics to pull out a gap, , but just not who was going to win it…It was amazing – felt really good!”
Leading the Championship by 16 points Gamble was happy too, “A mega race, really fun, me and Seb worked in qualifying and we planned it as we are both getting good starts - we got a really good gap and it worked for him – he pushed me all the way. I’ve got to thank everyone at JHR for giving me such a good car”.