• Simon Paice

Hit and miss weekend for Jack at Donington

The 3rd and 4th rounds of the Renault UK Clio Cup (15,16 April) had been an exciting prospect. Buoyed by his superb debut in the championship at Brands Hatch the week before, Jack had gone to the historic Donington Park venue looking forward to building on his promising start to the campaign. In pre-race testing, he was firmly among the pace-setters and carried his strong form into timed qualifying. At the close of the session, the top six drivers were all under Ashley Sutton’s 2015 lap-record, with Jack fifth-fastest and just 0.132seconds from pole position. His second-best time would put him on P7 of the grid for the weekend’s second race.

Donington features a long, fast run from the start line into the first corner, Redgate before plunging downhill through the Craner Curves. It is a sequence of bends that almost invariably produces high drama at the start of a race and so it played out at the start of Race 1. Paul Rivett and Lee Pattison tangled with Shayne Deegan, triggering a chain reaction behind. Deegan’s spinning car was collected by two others.

Meanwhile Lucas Orrock barrel rolled in a crash that also accounted for Jack’s team-mate, Ollie Pidgley, plus two more cars. The race was red-flagged to recover the damaged Clios and clear the track.

At the re-start Jack McCarthy moved up to 3rd position and was part of a high speed train vying for the lead. As the lead changed hands, Jack recorded the fastest lap of the race but was then cruelly sidelined by his ECU (Engine Control Unit) failing.

The second race was also stopped following WDE Motorsport’s Rivett and Pattison colliding on the greasy track surface at Coppice Corner and taking a trip into the gravel trap. At the time they had been leading but rain had begun to fall mid-race, creating treacherous conditions for the slick-shod field. The officials called a halt to proceedings and with that no small amount of confusion followed. Jack had been running in 5th position but would ultimately be declared 6th, after the finishing order was shuffled in the clerks’ office. Max Coates had been had been 3rd on the road when Rivett and Pattison tangled. However, a review of the incident showed that Rivett had kept his car going through the gravel trap and was able to rejoin the track towards the end of field.

This was not the case with Pattison, whose car had become beached in the chippings and deemed to be in a dangerous position. Rivett, second at the end of the previous lap, was reinstated as the winner with Coates classified in 2nd ahead of Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell. Thus Jack was pushed back a place to 6th, although this remains provisional, as Pattinson is contesting his removal from the result. Consequently, McCarthy is 5th in the points table pending Pattinson’s appeal.

Jack and Team Pyro are now preparing for the series’ fifth and sixth rounds, to be held at the ultra-fast Thruxton circuit. In testing, he has already been under the existing lap record of 1m23.060s, set in 2014 by Pattinson. This means Jack’s average speed around the Hampshire venue was a staggering 103mph.

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