Ben Palmer cemented the perfect start to his Michelin Clio Cup Series title defence with another brace of victories at Rockingham Motor Speedway to make it four from four.
The opening contest took place on Saturday in dry and bright conditions and it was Palmer (BPR) who stole victory from rookie Ronan Pearson (Westbourne).
Pearson qualified fastest and was the only car to dip below the 1:31.00s mark. The Scottish driver took his first ever podium in the series, though Palmer proved unbeatable in the opener and was able to secure his third consecutive win of 2018 with Pearson coming home in second. The 2017 Race Series Champion continued with his quick pace to finish Race 2 3.3 seconds clear of everyone else.
It was an excellent weekend for Ben Colburn (Westbourne) who opened his silverware account for the season with two podium finishes. After rounding out the podium in Race 1 he claimed an impressive second in the final race, the Worthing-based driver led the second race at the start and demonstrated an aptitude for overtaking.
Simon Freeman (Pitbull Racing with BPR) was able to build on his success from Silverstone, taking another podium finish in the second contest after a strong fourth in the opener.
It was a promising weekend for Sarah Franklin (SFR with Westbourne) who qualified ninth and finished eighth in Race 1, despite it being her first outing since October last year. Unfortunately, a gearbox issue put her out of contention in Race 2.
Tyler Lidsey (MRM) was another driver who showed good pace at Rockingham. The Dartford-born racer scored two fifth place finishes in his machine. John Hamilton also had a promising Sunday after his Race 1 came to an early end. The Jade Developments driver finished sixth in Race 2 and will look to score more points at the next meeting at Brand Hatch.
Rounds 2 and 3 also provided a solid set of results for Finlay Robinson (Westbourne), Tony Verhulst (Westbourne) and Steve Williams (Jade) who were all highly competitive in fighting to improve their points haul.
The Northamptonshire circuit provided excellent racing in the Road Series too. Current championship leader Nic Harrison (Jade Developments) was able to extend his lead with scoring another two wins. He also set the fastest lap of Race 2.
Thomas Oatley (Team Prota) had an impressive weekend after missing out on the Silverstone meeting. In his first race back in 2018 he scored two podiums, picking up an impressively quick development curve from his rookie campaign and staking an early claim for the class title fight.
Completing the Road Series podium finishers was Sean Thomas, who bounced back after a retirement at Silverstone stopped him from collecting any silverware. Like Oatlety, the Westbourne driver too claimed a second and third place apiece.
James Joannou had showed excellent pace in qualifying but sadly wasn’t able to finish either race. With the times set in qualifying, he will be looking to be in contention for a podium in the next rounds.
The championship heads next to Brands Hatch for another double-header of action packed contests over the weekend of 12-13 May, 2018.
Ben Palmer said, “Four out of four victories is excellent. I didn’t qualify on pole so had to rely on my racecraft to secure those wins. The car felt great and I’m really happy for me and my team. I can’t wait until Brands Hatch now to see if I can make it six out of six!”
Ben Colburn said, “I had a great start off the line and to have time running at the front was really promising. Two podiums this weekend is great and now I’m going to start thinking about the championship. I must say a massive thank you to Westbourne for giving me a great car and to all of the guys who’ve worked really hard on it.”
Nic Harrison said, “I’m delighted to have won all races this season so far. I hope I can continue to win and compete well as we move to the next rounds, and a huge thanks to everyone at Jade Developments for their part in this success this weekend.”
Tom Oatley said, “It feels so great to be back on the podium after missing the first rounds at Silverstone. My mechanic has done a really good job with preparing this car, so I’d like to thank him in helping me to success. We've got some ground to make up but this weekend was a fantastic way to kick off the 2018 season and the only way is up from here!"