Top five for Kent’s Lidsey
Top five for Kent’s Lidsey

Kent racing driver Brett Lidsey got his 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup season kick-started in some style during the second event of the campaign at Donington Park National Circuit on Sunday, with a career-best series finish of fifth place in round three.

After a luckless beginning to the championship at Brands Hatch three weeks prior, the 26-year-old responded perfectly over the weekend in Leicestershire with a best-yet sixth place in qualifying and he went on to post a top five result in race one and 10th place in race two.

“To have been on my roof in the first race at Brands, to then come to Donington and finish the first race top five is fantastic – I’m well chuffed with that”, said the delighted Northfleet driver, “We went into the pre-race test not knowing where we’d be, I hadn’t raced at Donington since 2016, but it’s been a great weekend and we’ve shown we can compete in the front pack in this championship.”

As a result of the damage sustained in the car-flipping incident he was involved in at Brands Hatch during the championship curtain-raiser, MRM driver Lidsey arrived at Donington in a replacement Clio and adapted to the car seamlessly.

During the damp grid-determining session for rounds three and four on Saturday afternoon, Lidsey produced his best qualifying performance yet in the Renault UK Clio Cup with a fantastic top six effort, a time of 1m23.395 seconds (85.43mph), after a great early call to switch to slick tyres.

Backing that up with a second fastest time of 1m24.560 seconds, Lidsey secured ninth on the grid for the second of Sunday’s two races to give himself a great opportunity to battle for a brace of strong points results.

Making an excellent start to round three, he instantly moved up into fifth place into Redgate and then looked for fourth as he ran door-to-door with Jack McCarthy into the Craner Curves. Wisely tucking back into fifth midway down the legendary right-left section, Lidsey maintained position before the Safety Car was called as a result of an accident for Paul Rivett.

Racing resumed on lap five and although under some pressure initially, Lidsey soon began to open a healthy gap to the challengers behind and by the end of lap eight the Liftout, GHR Scaffolding Ltd, GPL Projects Ltd, Certus Security, Dornack, Taylor Made Decals and MS Motorsport sponsored driver was two seconds to the good over nearest pursuer Zak Fulk.

By the start of lap 14 Lidsey’s cushion had gone out to almost four seconds and at the chequered flag on lap 17 his margin over the pack behind was 4.5 seconds as he secured a fantastic result. Notably too, his best lap time was within 0.2 seconds of podium finishing pace.

Beginning round four later in the day from ninth on the grid, Lidsey made a good start and held station down through Craner Curves and the Old Hairpin before moving up into eighth position. Just 0.3 seconds behind Sam Osborne, Lidsey then set fastest lap on the second tour but a delay when James Colburn crashed out at Redgate at the start of lap three dropped Lidsey to 10th.

With two seconds to make up to the pack ahead as a result, he started to make headway as the race approached mid-distance and by the start of lap eight Lidsey had halved the deficit. Continuing to improve his lap times, Lidsey closed more and more and into lap 10 he was side-by-side with MRM team-mate Jade Edwards on the run to Redgate.

Unfortunately, though, he lost out to an attack from Osborne at the Old Hairpin after being edged off the track and so slipped to 11th place. Quickly moving back into the top 10, though, he then stayed there to the flag on lap 13 to cap a very strong points-scoring weekend.

“In qualifying we made the right call at the right time to swap to slicks, that really paid off for us in the first race”, reflected Lidsey, “I think I could’ve been higher up the grid actually, but I caught [Andy] Wilmot with a couple of laps to go and so lost out on another improvement.

“In the first race I got off the line well, kept it clean, but at the re-start I had defend so it dropped us back from the pack and I stayed a lonely fifth. Race two was tougher, me and [Sam] Osborne had a coming together late on which dropped me onto the mud at the Old Hairpin, and it bent the steering. Even with that, though, we were still setting good lap times which is really positive.”

Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, the fastest track on the Clio Cup calendar, is up next for Lidsey with rounds five and six of the season taking place over the weekend 19th/20th May.