Held during the Formula 1 French Grand Prix weekend, the first Clio Cup Open of the year will bring together 50 competitors on Circuit Paul Ricard. Renault Sport Racing will make the most of this exceptional event to introduce the competition version of the New Renault Clio that will debut in 2020.
From June 21-23, the battle promises to be massive with 50 drivers sharing just one objective: to win during this unique meeting in support of the French Grand Prix, 40 years after Renault’s first F1 victory.
Coming from across Europe and the Middle East, the various contenders have resoundingly answered the call from Renault Sport Racing to compete in this fantastic showcase. The Clio Cup Open will be the only sedan category to compete as a support series to the FIA Formula One World Championship.
A long list of stars among the favourites
17-year-old Jack Young was imperial in the Clio Cup International Finale last year on this same track and now he wants to repeat as the motorsport cognoscenti looks on.
The current leader in the Clio Cup UK will cross swords with some of the same competitors he defeated last November. Among them are Frenchman Benoit Castagné, who will be out for revenge after having to settle for third place, Italy’s Felice Jelmini, who was sixth and leads Clio Cup Italia this season, and Matteo Poloni, who was also in the top ten this past autumn.
Forced to retire while in contention for strong results, David Pouget and Brett Lidsey should also figure among the challengers if they can avoid the Circuit Paul Ricard pitfalls.
The battle of nations
Jack Young and Brett Lidsey will not be the only defenders of the Union Jack as Ben and James Colburn, Aaron Thompson and Luke Warr want to demonstrate the high level of competition in the United Kingdom. In parallel, their countryman James Ross will be in search of his maiden success in the Clio Cup after having won poles in France and Spain the past few years.
In addition to Felice Jelmini and Matteo Poloni, the Italians will be out in force with Giacomo Trebbi, Fabrizio Ongaretto, Paolo Felisa and Saetta McQueen all hoping to use their experience to heat up the battles in the field, while Francesca Rafaelle will be the only female driver in action.
Poland will have a large presence with six drivers having accepted the invitation of Renault Sport Racing: Jakub Dwernicki, Patryk Krupiński, Szymon Ladniak, Tomasz Magdziarz, Pawel Wysmyil as well as Albert Legutko, who was runner-up in the Clio Cup Central Europe in 2018!
Alone to defend their nation and chances, the Czech Republic’s Tomáš Pekař, winner of the Clio Cup Central Europe in 2017, should be counted among the favourites but he knows better than anyone just how tough Switzerland’s Andreas Stucki and Austria’s Sandro Soubek can be to beat in one race!
Home track advantage?
For this meeting contested in the Var Department, the French contingent will logically be the biggest with 25 drivers all ready to win in front of their supporters!
In addition to Benoit Castagné and David Pouget, Alexandre Albouy and Antoine Prétin will also aim for the sharp end of the order, as they are now right at home in the Clio Cup 4.
Gentleman category leaders in France, Mickaël Carrée and David Pajot will try to get the best results of their careers during this exceptional meeting, but their usual rivals, brothers Emmanuel and Samuel Raffin and also Franck Traynard will also be in the hunt.
They may be just youngsters, but Edwin Traynard and Antoine Prenveille are just as motivated to defending the Clio Cup France colours, as are Jérémy Bordagaray, Kevin Jimenez, Lionel Viguier, Emmanuel Alliot and David Quichante, who will once again compete with his Clio Cup adapted to his disability.
A surprise guest?
Several competitors have been won over by the format of this event, such as Joris Berriau, Cédrick Ducos, Pascal Girard, Tom Piallat and Guillaume Plubel, who has chosen to take up the Clio Cup Open challenge to demonstrate all his versatility. The team that he is part of with David Pouget is currently excelling in other categories.
2008 FIA European GT3 runner-up, Pierre-Brice Ména will also worth keeping an eye on as will Jérémy Loisel. Both will be at Circuit Paul Ricard in their roles as the spearheads of the all-new Clio Cup Middle East.
And if there is one driver who knows the track better than anyone, it is Stéphane Clair. Already present during the International Finale, the Circuit Paul Ricard General Manager will want to demonstrate the extent of his progress against the best of the best of a category that will unveil the competition version of New Renault Clio at an innovative presentation in the Clio Cup Open paddock on Saturday at 18:30.
Friday June 21
18:45–19:15: Free practice
Saturday June 22
13:25–13:52: Race 1
Sunday June 23
8:40-9:07: Race 2