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Eurocup Clio swings back into action

Eurocup Clio swings back into action

13.09.2011: Paul Ricard HTTT – Preview With four races gone in the inaugural Eurocup Clio, and with four still remaining, Nicolas Milan (Milan Competition) is in pole

Paul Ricard HTTT – Preview

With four races gone in the inaugural Eurocup Clio, and with four still remaining, Nicolas Milan (Milan Competition) is in pole position to win the title and claim a drive in next season’s Eurocup Megane Trophy. The winner of three races to date, the Frenchman is 30 points clear of sole pursuer Mike Verschuur (Equipe Verschuur) at the top of the standings, and has his sights on further success on home soil at the Paul Ricard HTTT.

The Eurocup Clio, the blue riband event in Clio racing, makes its return to the World Series by Renault at the Paul Ricard HTTT. With the drivers back in action after breaking off in June for their national championships, there will be plenty of expectation in the air at the Cote d’Azur track, where 36 hopefuls will be lining up on the grid.

There was little to choose between the contenders in the first two Eurocup Clio meetings of the season at Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring, both in qualifying and in the races. One man who did break away from the pack, however, was Nicolas Milan.

The Frenchman, who won his third straight French Clio Cup at the start of September and lies second in the Spanish Clio Cup standings, recorded a one-two in Belgium and took the chequered flag in race one in Germany. Those triumphs have given him a commanding championship lead, and should Milan end the Paul Ricard meeting with a lead in excess of 50 points, he will become the first man to have his name engraved on the Eurocup Clio.

The only driver who can stop him is Mike Verschuur. The winner of the Eurocup Megane Trophy in 2009, the Dutchman is intent on adding the Eurocup Clio title to his CV. Making a slow start to the season at Spa, Verschuur roared into championship contention at the Nürburgring with second place in Race 1 and a valuable win in Race 2, relegating Milan to second on the podium.

Nevertheless, he will need something special to deny his rival at the Paul Ricard HTTT, where Milan will have the support of young team-mates Marc Guillot, who picked up two second-place finishes at Spa, and Thibault Bossy. Backing up Verschuur’s title charge will be his sister Sheila, who is edging closer and closer to a top-three finish with every race.

Two other drivers eyeing the top of the podium, having claimed a pole position apiece this season, are Giancarlo Lenzotti (Composit Motorsport) and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (Team Bleekemolen), who currently leads the Dutch Clio Cup ahead of Sheila Verschuur. Also waiting in the wings are Simone di Luca (Rangoni Motorsport) and Cristian Ricciarini (Composit Motorsport).

Third in the Spanish Clio Cup, Jordi Palomeras (Pujolaraing) has plenty of ground to make up, as do Frederic Yerly (Fred Yerly Team), the winner of the 2010 Swiss Clio Cup, Stefano Zanini (Composit Motorsport), fifth in the Italian Clio Cup, and Manuel Zumstein (Jenzer Motorsport).

Milan, Guillot and Bossy will be heading a sizeable French contingent at Castellet, with four other drivers also looking to impress on home ground. Philippe Maurin (Duprey Competition) is well placed in the standings, while Jean-Marc Thevenot (Milan Competition), Jean-Marc Corde (Milan Competition) and Frederic O’Neill (Duprey Competition) will all be out to make an impression in the Gentlemen Drivers category, which is currently headed by Ronald Morien (Equipe Verschuur).

Blanca de Foronda - photo Renault


13.09.2011 / MaP

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