This category, specifically for drivers aged just 14 to 17, was launched with a pilot series in 2017 ahead of a full blown 12-round calendar in 2018 and has immediately set new standards in junior saloon car racing in the UK.
The championship uses the same cars as those in the senior Renault UK Clio Cup which races at the British Touring Car Championship’s high-profile events.
These are based on the Clio Renault Sport 220 Trophy model. They retain the road car’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine but inside and underneath there are a number of changes (roll cage, suspension, brakes, aerodynamics etc.) to make them race ready.
However, to meet junior racing regulations, there are some subtle differences when compared to the senior car in terms of performance. An ECU modification limits the cars to five gears and 100mph while high performance Michelin road tyres are used instead of racing ‘slicks’.
The Clio Cup Junior car has drastically modernised junior saloon car racing, however. Technically it is superior to anything else in the market place. Performance-wise it is unrivalled in areas such as torque, handling and cornering.
It is also regarded as the safest junior saloon racing car out there. Indeed it has become the first to meet new safety regulations laid out by UK motor sport’s governing body the MSA for 2018.
A strong emphasis is also placed on driving standards – the category is all about ensuring fair play so as to enable the young drivers to gain confidence and concentrate on their racing.
The results have been immediate with the pilot series’ eight races producing some exceptionally close but clean racing. Positions in both qualifying and races were determined by tiny fractions of a second. Four different drivers shared the race wins. The outcome of the title – eventually won by 16-year-old Jack Young from Belfast for the small MRM Racing team – did not become clear until the closing laps of the very last race…
More of the same is expected in 2018 when the championship grows to include six-events (two rounds per event making for a 12-round calendar).