The car is identical to that used in the senior Renault UK Clio Cup that features at the BTCC’s high-profile events except for a simple modification to the ECU that limits it to five gears and 100mph and a switch to road tyres, Michelin’s high performance Pilot Sport 3.
The inaugural UK Clio Cup Junior championship will take place over four race weekends (two races per event) starting at Snetterton in September. The Champion will receive a free registration into the senior UK Clio Cup – a prize worth around £18,000. Second and third place will also be rewarded as will the winner of each race. Championship registrations, costing just £1600 + VAT, open on 3 July.
Sutton, the sensation of the BTCC at Croft last weekend and also Renault UK Clio Cup Champion in 2015 (pictured above left), tested the Junior-spec car in the off-season. He believes it can transform the UK’s junior racing scene.
“It’s just brilliant,” enthused Sutton. “It is so much fun to drive and the championship is going to teach young drivers an awful lot about race craft too.
“On the technical side I found the car to be very consistent and it really inspires confidence in the driver – you can push it to the limit and a bit more but never feel totally out of your comfort zone or scared and that’s so important for a junior driver.
“The way the car sits on the limiter (in fifth gear at 100mph) is very nice as well – not harsh which is what I expected. It just sits there all nice and smooth. Another thing that stood out for me at the sampler day was how quickly all the drivers whatever their background were able to get on with the car.
“Phil Glew (2009 UK Clio Cup Champion and Renault Sport development driver) and I were chatting after I’d had a run and we could not stop talking about how good it is! It’s a fantastic little car.”
Sutton believes UK Clio Cup Junior can become the number one starting point for 14 to 17-year-old drivers with serious ambitions of careers in touring cars.
He said: “The UK Clio Cup ‘scene’ is the place to be before graduating to the BTCC. If you get into a slide you deal with it; it comes naturally. Then there’s the race craft. I had it all season in 2015 – in fact right from race one with Ant Whorton-Eales – and because of that then dealing with situations on track in the BTCC again hasn’t been a problem. To start being able to do that at such an early age will be very impressive.