Dubai, UAE, 22 November 2018: After seven boisterous Clio Cup engines were turned off and the Dubai Autodrome GP Circuit returned to quiet following the second action-packed round of the NGK UAE Touring Car Championship (NGK UAE TCC) on Saturday (17 November), Scottish driver Willie Morrison strolled to the top step of winner’s podium and took title control in the Renault Clio Cup Class powered by Renault Middle East.
It was a hard-fought battle; the Clio Cup category is the most copious class in the touring car field. This season also witnessed the introduction of reverse grids for the second race in each round.
Morrison recalled, “The reverse grid for race two and going into the dark was interesting. Coming through from the rear of the grid was helped by a great start and a spin on turn one from Rahil in one of the Clios ahead. I managed to get behind Jon and we had a good battle for several laps before he also had a moment at turn one which let me through and make it two from two on the day.”
Two class wins put Willie Morrison at the top of Clio Cup leaderboard with 100 championship points. Peter England is chasing in second-place with 72 points and Rahil Taneja is currently in third place with 54 points.
Morrison added, “There was a good-sized grid in the NGK UAE TCC and with seven Clios out for the first race at Dubai Autodrome–this season, it will be a good one.”
NGK UAE TCC Director Dominic Simon said, “We had a spectacular first race weekend to start the 2018-19 motorsport season with some prestigious championships returning to Dubai Autodrome and new championships choosing our venue for their inaugural race event.”
“Our own NGK UAE Touring Car Championship saw a few changes over the summer. We are now focusing on the highly competitive touring car segment, which has a long tradition in the region, and we are especially proud of the strong field of Renault Clio Cup cars. Thanks to our partner Renault Middle East, who will provide a prize for the class champion; in every race we have very close battles for points which make for exciting races to watch.”
Jon Simmonds spent the better part of two races on Saturday hunting down an elusive Morrison and he picked up a pair of second-place trophies for his efforts.
Despite not standing on the top step of the podium, Simmonds enjoyed the contest. He said, “To come here and have so much vibrancy, so many classes of racing and people coming to watch and cheer us on—that’s what it’s all about.”
“I wanted to join the Clio Cup class because it’s one of the bigger grids we have here in Dubai. It’s more competitive and gives people more of a spectacle. I’m happy to join the fun and contribute to what’s going on here.”
Peter England experienced some rough patches on Saturday but he is still looking good occupying P2 in the championship. After the racing recalled, “I got a good start and then got mugged into turn one, so I ended up with a couple of slower cars in front of me. It took me awhile to get past.”
“Then we managed to get decent pace. Nice to finish third; it was a good tough race.”
The NGK UAE Touring Car Championship will headline the next race weekend at Dubai Autodrome, which rolls into action on Friday, 7 December 2018.
“We are expecting even more entries for the upcoming races for all classes which shows the strong interest in the championship and trust of competitors for our team to deliver world-class racing events in a family friendly environment,” added NGK UAE TCC Director Dominic Simon.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Arthur Rosales, Aaron Meriwether and WSF Creative