Action packed finale for Lidsey
Action packed finale for Lidsey

Renault UK Clio Cup driver Brett Lidsey delivered yet more sparkling pace during the final event of the 2018 season at his home track, Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit, over the weekend to conclude his first full year in the category with his eighth top 10 result.Heading into the championship finale high in confidence after a stellar showing at Silverstone a fortnight ago, where he set fastest lap in both races and challenged at the front, the 27-year-old from Northfleet in Kent started off well in practice and qualifying with top six pace in the latter.

Despite the frustration of a luckless retirement in race one on Saturday, 29th September, after an on-track incident, Lidsey was in the thick of the action in the lead group in race two on Sunday, 30th September, before hitting back from penultimate lap contact to finish in 10th position.

“My pace was mega again this weekend, the same as it was at Silverstone”, said Lidsey, “Race one was really unlucky for us, though. It was all going well, we were right up there and lapping strongly but then the car just got away at Dingle Dell and when Nick [Reeve] went to pass there was some contact. The crash structure on the front of my car took the impact, though, fortunately.

“The team did a fantastic job to get the car repaired for race two and it was mega again. I had neck ache after the accident, but the doctors were happy for me to race and we gave it a good go in race two. I had to try and pick my moments, it was close but when it all opens up you have to go for it.”

He added: “I’m really pleased with how we’ve improved our pace and racecraft recently, and we definitely had the pace for a couple of top six results this weekend. Obviously, I want to say a massive thank you to all of my sponsors for their support and to the MRM guys – they’ve done a fantastic job, especially having to rebuild the car umpteen times this season!”

Lapping 10th fastest in the opening test session on Friday, 28th September, running just 0.7 seconds shy of the outright pace, in the afternoon run the Liftout, GHR Scaffolding Ltd, GPL Projects Ltd, Certus Security, Dornack, Taylor Made Decals and MS Motorsport supported driver was in the top 10 once again and confirmed his consistency with the same gap to the top of the timesheets.

In qualifying on Saturday morning Lidsey impressed even more, scorching to the sixth quickest time with a lap of 1m38.372 seconds placing him only 0.2 seconds shy of pole position for the first race of the weekend. On second best times, he secured seventh on the grid for race two.

Saturday afternoon’s encounter, round 17, started smoothly for Lidsey but he was nudged back to eighth place before the Safety Car was deployed due to several cars going off the track at Hawthorn Bend. Racing didn’t resume until lap six and Lidsey maintained his top eight placing but then, on the eighth tour, an incident at Dingle Dell with Nicholas Reeve resulted in retirement.

As Lidsey headed into the right-hand kink, his Clio got out of shape and as Reeve attempted to pass there was contact – the front of the MRM driver’s car sustained race-ending damage while Reeve was pitched into a roll. Fortunately, both drivers emerged largely unscathed.

Passed fit to race by doctors for Sunday’s final round, albeit with a sore neck, Lidsey lined-up a competitive seventh on the grid and although edged back to ninth off the start he moved back up into seventh prior to an appearance for the Safety Car in time for lap six.

Racing resumed soon after but the Safety Car was then required again on lap nine due to a car off track, with Lidsey still holding seventh place. After a long delay, the action got back underway on lap 13 and the battling in the lead pack was fast and furious.

Lapping superbly and running in the thick of the battle over the podium, Lidsey gained two places in one superb move at Surtees to climb into the top five and he then ran absolutely glued to the rear bumper of Dan Zelos’ Clio.

As the lead contenders tripped over each other, Lidsey was edged back to sixth before then being elbowed down to eighth after contact from Mike Epps. Then, on lap 14, contact from Lee Pattison at Westfield resulted in an excursion for Lidsey from which he rejoined down in 14th position.

Impressively, and proving a point, he gained no fewer than four positions over the course of the 15th and final lap to record a top 10 finish in the last race of the season. Notably, his best lap of 1m39.475 seconds was just a couple of tenths shy of the fastest of the race.

Now, all attention turns to the 2019 season and so the hard work to try and secure the required budget to compete in a top-line championship like the Renault UK Clio Cup only intensifies further over the coming months.

“We’re not sure what we’ll do next year”, said Lidsey, “I’d like to be back in Clios to have chance for a full season, obviously we missed a couple of rounds this year. We’ve shown we can race them at the front, we’ve got the pace and just need to master qualifying – that’s the key for us. When we nail that, I know we can challenge for podiums.”