Jack Young (Belfast) was crowned the inaugural Renault UK Clio Cup Junior Champion in an intense final two races of the season at Brands Hatch – both won by Lorcan Hanafin (Guiseley). Jack’s success also means a first title in UK Clio Cup competition for the small MRM Racing team in only its second season of existence…
Young, being supported by fellow Northern Irishman and double British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington, finished second to Hanafin in race one with the latter’s Team Pyro team-mate Harry Gooding (Bridgwater) close behind in third.
Heading into race two – the season finale – the result had given Young a points advantage over his main title rivals, JamSport’s Ethan Hammerton (Northallerton) and Pyro’s Max Marzorati (Harrow). They had finished race one in fourth and seventh positions, Marzorati with damage to his car after an early altercation.
But in race two the momentum seemed to be swinging back the way of Marzorati as he took the lead early on and Young slipped down the order to as low as seventh. Young however then produced a stunning recovery drive that brought him back up to fourth place. With two bonus points for having also set the race’s fastest lap (with a new lap record) the title looked to be his and this became certain when Marzorati lost the lead to Hanafin and then tumbled to fourth with a wild moment on the last lap. Across the line the order was Hanafin ahead of Hammerton and Young with Marzorati in fourth. The result means that Young is the Champion on 165 points ahead of Hammerton in second on 159, Marzorati in third on 153 and Hanafin in fourth on 143. Pyro has won the championship’s teams’ title.
Young’s prize for winning the title is a free registration into the senior Renault UK Clio Cup which races alongside the British Touring Car Championship live on ITV4. The prize is valued at £18,000…
Meanwhile Marzorati and Hanafin have ended the campaign with three wins each while Young and Hammerton took one apiece. Hanafin started seven of the eight races from pole position – a remarkable statistic. The top four in the championship also shared the eight fastest laps with three each falling to Hanafin and Young.
Young, aged 16, commented: “The feeling is indescribable – I had a bit of a moment there with Max at the start of race two and then went off on some oil and thought it was all over. All I could do was charge as hard as possible and make clean moves on people as soon as I got up to them. But when I passed Max at the end there I knew it was mine. It is a massive confidence boost and I’m so happy for everyone who runs this team. To win a title with Renault Sport’s name on it is also a massive deal.”
MRM Team Principal Mike Ritchie said: “We’re living the dream! We’re only two years old as a team but to win a big title like this already is a major moment for us – it shows even with a small infrastructure we are a professional set-up capable of delivering the results. Jack has driven superbly and we’d also like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Colin Turkington for his support this weekend.”
Turkington added: “Today actually put me in mind of a few BTCC finals – when it’s gone to the wire and then been decided by only a few points! There’s been loads of action and, for Jack, it’s a big achievement to make a bit of history by becoming the first driver to win the first Clio Cup Junior title. There are a lot of very strong drivers on the grid and there’s not a lot to choose between them – whoever comes out on top has definitely earned it and it’s a very good place to learn your craft.”