Great consistency from Lidsley
Brett Lidsey took another big step forward in performance during the seventh event of the Renault UK Clio Cup at Rockingham over the weekend, 11th/12th August, with ninth and 10th place finishes in the event’s two races.
With the actual results from rounds 13 and 14 and consistent points haul only forming part of the story, the most noteworthy aspect of the race meeting was the Northfleet driver’s superb pace from the outset – third fastest in testing and lapping only 0.5 seconds shy of pole position in qualifying.
Lidsey, who celebrated his 27th birthday last week, was also quick in both dry and wet conditions at the International Super Sportscar Circuit and in Sunday’s rain-affected encounter the Liftout, GHR Scaffolding Ltd, GPL Projects Ltd, Certus Security, Dornack, Taylor Made Decals and MS Motorsport backed racer delivered the third fastest lap time.
“We know we’ve got the pace, it’s just getting out of the midfield battles where all the skirmishes are – that’s where we need to get out of”, Lidsey said, “If we can break into that top five again, that’s where we need to be and then we’ll be away. We are getting there slowly, better results are coming and the consistency is definitely there now.”
During officially timed testing on Friday, Lidsey got his weekend off to an incredible start with the third fastest time during the morning session. Producing a best lap of 1m29.648 seconds (77.90mph), he was a miniscule 0.004 seconds shy of multiple Clio champion Paul Rivett. When the rain arrived for the afternoon, Lidsey lapped competitively again in the wet weather and posted the ninth quickest lap of 1m31.066 seconds (76.69mph), placing him within 0.7 seconds of the pace and little more than 0.3 seconds of the top six.
Aiming to carry his great front-running form into qualifying on Saturday morning, the MRM racer was within just half a second of pole position but such was the competitiveness of the session he had to settle for 12th on the grid for race one later in the day. Maintaining his position in the top 12 on the opening lap of round 13, Lidsey gained two places on the second tour to break into 10th spot and on lap three he passed team-mate Jack Young to take ninth as his impressive start to the encounter continued apace.
When Max Coates pitted at the end of lap five, Lidsey climbed into eighth and then took seventh place from former British Touring Car Championship driver Mike Epps shortly after. Edged back to eighth again on lap seven, he was re-passed by Epps for ninth on lap nine and then consolidated the placing to the chequered flag on lap 14 to chalk-up another strong points finish.
Ahead of round 14 on Sunday afternoon, rain arrived at Rockingham which led to a very slippery track surface for the Clio drivers to contend with – conditions in which Lidsey has proven to be a very competitive racer this year. Lining-up 11th on the grid, thanks to a second best lap time in qualifying which was just half a second away from pole, he made a great start to latch onto the top 10 and after making his way safely through Deene Hairpin, the MRM driver then moved up into ninth into the infield before being edged back again to 10th place at Gracelands.
Challenged by Dan Zelos over the line into the second tour, Lidsey managed to see off the threat initially but into Deene his rival went through. Then, the race started to unravel a little for the Kent racer when contact at several corners dropped him back a few places to 12th position. Staying there for the next couple of laps, with bent steering not making the task any easier, on the fourth tour contact from Zak Fulk at Yentwood pitched Lidsey off the circuit and he recovered down in 14th place. When team-mate Young went straight on at Deene on lap seven, Lidsey re-gained 13th and during the latter stages he closed back in towards the group ahead battling over the top 10.
Just 0.3 seconds adrift, on the penultimate tour at Deene a tangle in front of Lidsey gave him the chance to slice his way into 10th position, although he was then nudged back to 11th into Yentwood where he remained to the flag on lap 14. Post-race though, a 10 second ‘false start’ penalty for James Dorlin returned Lidsey into the top 10 on the amended classification.
As across the entire weekend, Lidsey’s pace at the wheel of the No.12 MRM Clio was very impressive and his best lap time in race two of 1m43.463 seconds was less than four tenths of a second outside the fastest of the contest and quicker than the best managed by podium finishers Epps and Coates.
“Race one on Saturday was really good, I got a brilliant start and picked my way through and it was good having my team-mate Jack [Young] there as well”, Lidsey commented, “Race two was another good start, but everyone did the usual of stacking each other up into the hairpin. I managed to come out of there clean, but then got battered by everyone really – it was bumper cars out there. The steering got bent after some of the contact, but I was still slowly chipping away and trying to be as light as I could on the throttle in the conditions. It’s unfortunate how much contact there was, and that did cost us, but I’m really pleased with the overall performance this weekend and delighted to have one of the fastest laps of the race.”
There is now a lengthy five-week break in the Renault UK Clio Cup calendar with rounds 15 and 16 of the season, the championship’s penultimate event of 2018, taking place on 15th/16th September at Silverstone National Circuit.