Going from strength-to-strength in recent years, the Renault UK Clio Cup is poised for its most competitive season to date with the confirmation that a 24-car strong grid will line up at Brands Hatch in a fortnights time (April 1/2).
In what is the biggest number of cars starting the season in five years, the popular one-make series is also set to bolster its grid with more registrations expected before lights out in Kent.
Launching the 2017 campaign at Rockingham for the annual media day, two former champions will head the field in Mike Bushell and Paul Rivett - both of whom will be looking to add further silverware to their collections.
Ciceley Motorsport's Max Coates will enter his second season off the back of finishing third last year with his sights set on the title too.
Alongside those already mentioned, a further three drivers in the shape of James Colburn, Paul Streather and Lee Pattison have all won races in the past.
Furthermore 12 drivers are brand new to the championship including the Michelin Clio Cup Series champion James Dorlin and former British GT driver Jade Edwards. Out of the full list of 24, at least 15 have either won titles or races in highly competitive forms of motorsport.
“The Renault UK Clio Cup is, by far, head and shoulders above any other single-make saloon car championship in Great Britain,” commented Renault Sport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager Will Fewkes.
“This has to stand out as arguably the most competitive entry list the championship has seen since it started in its current guise in 2000 and whoever comes out on top in 2017 will have richly deserved their title.
“The grid is oozing with talent with the established racers coming up against more and more exciting new names – all drawn to the UK Clio Cup’s prestige and unrivalled reputation as the place to get noticed by the BTCC teams.
“This was again borne out yesterday when Josh Price became the fourth driver from 2016’s UK Clio Cup to be confirmed as a BTCC driver in 2017 – that now makes it 15 ex-UK Clio Cup drivers on this year’s touring car grid, as well as two more with Renault Sport histories.
“Furthermore we know of at least five more drivers who are close to signing with teams to either join 2017’s UK Clio Cup grid at or soon after our opening rounds at Brands Hatch.
“Certainly what we see today is testament to the very hard work done behind the scenes by the restructured Renault Sport UK team we put in place towards the end of 2014.”
Jeremy Townsend, Communications Director for Renault UK, added: “Renault UK is immensely proud with the way the UK Clio Cup – its premier motor sport activity in Great Britain – has evolved in the past two and a half years. The energy and commitment that has gone in from the organising team is outstanding.
“The championship does wonders for both the Renault and Renault Sport brands in the UK and it’s easy to list why – the increasingly competitive nature of the teams and drivers involved, the grid continually growing in size, the action on track which we know the BTCC crowds and viewers love and of course the huge levels of exposure, particularly on ITV4.
“It’s also important to re-emphasise that 2017 is only the first of a new three-year agreement with the BTCC’s organiser TOCA to continue appearing at the touring car events right through to the end of 2019 at least. We very much look forward to watching all the thrills and spills the UK Clio Cup is famous for unfold in 2017 and ultimately seeing a very worthy Champion crowned at the end of the season.”