Tough weekend for Lidsey
Tough weekend for Lidsey

Renault UK Clio Cup front-runner Brett Lidsey experienced his most frustrating outing of the season at Oulton Park Island Circuit over the weekend, 29th/30th June, but still managed to retain third in the championship as the category heads into its five-week summer break.Going into the fourth event of the campaign with five podiums from six races under his belt, the Northfleet 27-year-old aimed to add to his impressive tally but a challenging qualifying session, due to issues with the engine in his MRM-run Clio, made it a tougher weekend than expected.

Although struggling with overheating issues during his outing in the French Grand Prix-supporting International Clio Cup Open at Paul Ricard last weekend, with lap times in opening practice at Oulton looking good it seemed the 2.0-litre powerplant was working well enough.

In qualifying on Saturday, though, it soon became clear the car wasn’t performing as it should and the return of overheating issues also compromised Lidsey’s race one ability. Following an overnight engine change, he returned to battle on Sunday and delivered a much-improved top four finish.

“We obviously had problems with the engine overheating at Paul Ricard last weekend, and we should have changed it before practice on Friday to be honest, but we stuck with it as the times were OK in FP1”, said Lidsey, “In qualifying, though, I was toast really and after the first race when I came in at the end my feet felt like they were on fire – the bulkhead burnt the soles of my race boots!

“My team-mate Jack’s [Young] car was running at 89 degrees, where mine was 105 degrees, so we knew we had to change to the spare engine for race two and it was much better. It’s disappointing to miss the podium, but we had some pace in race two and I’m glad we’re leaving Oulton third in the championship still as it’s not my best track and one where I’ve got the least experience.”

Held-back by the engine troubles in qualifying, the Liftout, GHR Scaffolding Ltd, GPL Projects Ltd, Certus Security, Dornack, Taylor Made Decals, MS Motorsport and MSY Grab Hire & Mini Digger Hire backed driver ended the session on Saturday an uncharacteristic seventh fastest.

Determined to make as much progress as possible in round seven later in the day, Lidsey climbed into the top six on the opening lap and ran within just over half a second of fifth position, staying there for almost the entire duration.

Edging closer as the race reached lap 10, Lidsey’s hopes of mounting a challenge for fifth then went awry with an unfortunate moment at Knickerbrook with two laps to go. Although recovering the slide well, Lidsey dropped into the clutches of Ethan Hammerton who was able to slip past on the final tour so the MRM racer had to settle for seventh.

Thanks to great work from the mechanics at Mike Ritchie-run MRM, the overnight engine change ensured Lidsey’s car was much more competitive for round eight on Sunday and from seventh on the grid he made a great launch.

Although the gap immediately ahead of him closed into Old Hall, on the exit of the first corner a dramatic excursion for team-mate Young shook-up the order and Lidsey was able to carve his way through into the top four.

Elbowed back to fifth mid-lap by Hammerton, the MRM racer hit back to pass his rival on lap three out of Old Hall – slight contact between the duo occurring after Hammerton’s Clio got mildly out of shape after hitting the kerbs on entry to the corner.

Pulling away from the cars behind, Lidsey lapped within 0.3 seconds of podium pace but after a slide at the chicane the podium battle became too far out of reach. Notably, though, Lidsey continued to produce strong lap times to the finish and actually posted his best of the contest on the final lap – a time of 1m35.576s just 0.4 seconds shy of the fastest of the race.

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