Renault UK Clio Cup leader Josh Files extended his points advantage with a convincing, yet considered podium finish in Round 13 of the championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway on Saturday (14 September).
Files, from Norwich, arrived in Corby, Northamptonshire for Rounds 13 and 14 of the UK Clio Cup – Britain’s premier one-make saloon car championship – with 13 points separating him and chief title rival Paul Rivett in the standings.
The decision on whether to remain on treaded Dunlop rubber or switch to slicks proved crucial.
The 22-year old, backed by Bacs Payment Schemes Ltd – the people behind Direct Debit in the UK – topped the times for much of the all-action qualifying session on Saturday, before falling down the order as others gambled with different tyre strategies on an ever-drying track surface.
Team Pyro took a conservative approach by keeping Files on full wets for the duration of the 30-minute qualifying session.
Despite wanting to switch to slicks, the newly-nominated BRDC Rising Star was ultimately satisfied to end up with third row grid slots for Rounds 13 and 14 respectively, given that he qualified ahead of chief title rival Rivett.
The start of Round 13 was frantic, but Files emerged from the chaos in fourth place, behind the fast-starting Ant Whorton-Eales.
A wayward Ignas Gelzinis gifted him the final podium spot after a brief Safety Car intervention, as Files was forced to defend his position against a charging Devon Modell.
He then proceeded to set the fastest lap of the race and gap the chasing pack, maintaining third place to the flag despite suffering with a severe vibration, while championship foe Rivett watched from the sidelines.
“It couldn’t have worked out better to get points for a podium finish and the fastest lap when my main championship rival (Paul Rivett) failed to finish,” said a buoyant Files. “It’s great on all counts, because I’m beating him fair and square. The start was quite physical – I smacked my wheels against the kerb at Yentwood corner while avoiding a slow-moving car on lap one and then had a vibration to deal with throughout the race – the wheel is completely destroyed so it’s a miracle that I made it to the end.
“After the restart, once I had dealt with Ignas Gelzinis and Devon Modell, I was fortunate to have some clean air to those behind me, as it meant I could just back off and nurse the car home. I think we just have to take the same approach into tomorrow’s race to ensure I’m in the best position possible going into Brands Hatch’s season finale.”
Round 14 of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup gets underway at 14.42 tomorrow (Sunday 15 September) and will be broadcast live and in high definition on ITV4 and ITV4 HD.
For more information on Josh Files’ racing activities, please visit the official www.joshfiles.co.ukwebsite, 'like' his Facebook page or follow @JoshFiles on Twitter.