Frustration for Lidsey at Paul Ricard
Frustration for Lidsey at Paul Ricard

 

Kent racing driver Brett Lidsey delivered another impressive account of himself over the weekend during the prestigious French Grand Prix-supporting International Clio Cup Open at Paul Ricard – but two ultimately frustrating races cost the MRM driver a realistic double podium.

 

Absolutely relishing the prospect of competing as part of an FIA Formula One World Championship event for the first time in his burgeoning career, the 27-year-old from Northfleet in Kent challenged strongly for silverware in each Clio encounter but had to settle for a best result of 10th on Sunday.

Starring in qualifying, where he posted the second fastest time, the Liftout, GHR Scaffolding Ltd, GPL Projects Ltd, Certus Security, Dornack, Taylor Made Decals, MS Motorsport and MSY Grab Hire & Mini Digger Hire supported racer was one of six drivers from the domestic Renault UK Clio Cup flying the flag for Britain as part of a monster 44-car entry.

While a contentious penalty in the opening contest on Saturday afternoon, after some very close quarters action, dropped Lidsey out of podium contention and to an eventual finish outside the top 20, on Sunday morning some tight battling and issues with engine overheating led to a slip to 10th.

“It’s frustrating to come away from here without a podium, especially with the pace we’ve had and after qualifying on the front row for both races”, said a somewhat vexed Lidsey, “I’m impressed with how well we have done though, to be honest, we had the pace all weekend again so I’ll be aiming to take that forward to the next round of the UK championship next weekend at Oulton.”

Eyeing a major podium challenge in race one on Saturday afternoon from second on the grid, Lidsey was edged back to third off the line and then slipped to fourth out of Turn One. Sticking like glue to the cars ahead, the MRM racer swarmed all over the rear of David Pouget’s Clio into lap two.

Usurping the Frenchman for third soon after with a fantastically well-judged move, Lidsey then set about challenging for second place. Tight to the rear bumper of Antoine Pretin’s car, into the final corner on lap three Lidsey looked to have cleanly taken second but his car was then hit by Felice Jelmini who made an over-ambitious attempt to pass both rivals on the inside.

Although continuing in second onto the start-finish straight, the lost momentum meant Lidsey slipped back to third into Turn One on lap four before more contact occurred as the tightly packed podium battlers fought tooth and nail. Managing to maintain third position, Lidsey was now behind earlier aggressor Jelmini before being edged to fourth mid-lap by Pouget.

With a huge battle developing over the final podium placings, Lidsey was on the receiving end of some very robust action over the final three laps but he did manage to remain in the fight for the rostrum positions.

Then, it all went awry. After being given a drive-through penalty linked to some earlier contact, Lidsey took his penalty on the final lap but it was deemed too late and so officials also gave him an additional 30 second penalty – a bitter blow leading to a frustrating finish of 21st spot.

For race two on Grand Prix day, Lidsey again lined-up on the front row thanks to his second fastest time from the previous day’s qualifying session and he was resolutely determined to convert it into a podium after the dramas of Saturday’s encounter.

Edged back to third off the start by Jelmini, Lidsey set about retaking the position and duly did so before the duo embarked on another huge battle over the runner-up spot. Lidsey thought he had done enough to break the tow of the pack behind, but he then started to struggle in a straight-line with overheating issues.

As he fought with Jelmini, so the pursuers closed in and the ever-prevalent ‘tow’ at Paul Ricard became Lidsey’s undoing. With his top speed suffering through the overheating, the Clio became something of a sitting duck on the straights and he eventually slipped down to 10th position.

“Both races were obviously great with how we fought up at the front, but there was definitely some unnecessary contact in the first one”, reflected Lidsey, “In race two, the guy starting third got away really well so I slipped back but I was able to get him back again after a lap or two. The car started to run really hot, though, and with the tow at Ricard people were able to pass easily on the straights.”

There’s no rest at all for Lidsey and his fellow Renault UK Clio Cup competitors as they will return to domestic action this coming weekend, 29th/30th June, at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire for the fourth event of the British season – the Kent racer’s third back-to-back weekend of track action.

Going into the event third in the championship, with five podiums from six races, the MRM driver aims to continue the same high level of performance which has graced his second full season in the British Touring Car Championship support category thus far.

“I’m looking forward to Oulton”, he added, “Obviously, I didn’t race there last year as I got married that weekend but we did test there a couple of weeks ago with Ash Sutton [BTCC driver] and it went well. We’ll need to check the engine in FP1 on Friday because of the overheating at Ricard but, without any problems, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be where we have all year.”

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