Jade Edwards has made a strong start to her Renault UK Clio Cup campaign with an excellent weekend at Brands Hatch. Driving for Ciceley Motorsport, Edwards was hoping to gain experience and complete both races leading up to the meeting but a top-15 result in race two exceeded expectations. Despite a mechanical issue during qualifying, Jade’s racecraft was highly commendable as she made a number of strong overtakes as well as showcasing her defensive driving in race two as she competed against more experienced drivers. These strong performances will set Jade up for the rest of the season where she will aim to progress towards the top-10.
Jade took advantage of two test sessions on Friday to gain familiarisation with the Renault Clio on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. Improving her lap times throughout the day, Edwards completed 62 laps for Ciceley Motorsport with less than two seconds covering the whole field. With the front-wheel drive Clio being different to anything she had driven before, Jade knew the target for the weekend was to gain confidence in the car and get a feel of different setups ahead of the season.
Qualifying took place on Saturday morning with 22 cars taking to the track to qualify with Jade being one of ten debutants in the series. With a few spots of rain around, Edwards wanted to start the session with some quick lap times and briefly took top spot in the early stages. Unfortunately, a mechanical issue stopped her session around halfway and she was unable to re-join the session while her competitors continued to improve their times. Despite having to start from the rear of the field for both races, this will give Jade the perfect opportunity to show her overtaking skills as she’ll aim to charge through the field.
Light rain had fallen in the lead up to the first race which forced all the drivers to start on wet tyres, leading to the drivers facing a dilemma of how hard to push in the opening stages with the track set to dry. Jade made a great start and she gained four positions on the first lap and crossed the line in 18th. After a brief safety car, Edwards made her way up to 16th as she took advantage of drivers battling ahead of her. Despite losing two positions during the middle of the race to recovering drivers, Jade’s pace was strong in the tricky conditions and she started to gain on the drivers ahead. Following a good battle with fellow debutant Aaron Thompson, Edwards moved up to 17th and held that position for the remainder of the race to end her first Renault UK Clio Cup race in a respectable 17th position.
Race two began on Sunday with Jade once again starting from the rear of the field. Much like the opening race, Edwards made a fantastic start to climb up to 16th as the safety car was deployed following the first lap. When the racing resumed, Jade gained a further position as she passed fellow newcomer James Dorlin and held the position during the middle portion of the race. On lap 14 Edwards moved up another position, but despite some superb defensive driving Aaron Thompson found a way passed with just two laps to go. Continuing to show off her racecraft, Edwards held onto a top-15 finish regardless of the pressure she was facing from a hungry pack of drivers. This was an excellent result for Jade considering this was just her first ever meeting in the highly competitive Renault UK Clio Cup.
Jade’s performances over the course of the weekend were highly impressive considering her experience levels in the car, especially in challenging conditions on Saturday. Even though her single lap pace could be improved, Edwards racecraft was excellent as she made her way through the field on two occasions on her way to 17th in race one and 15th in race two. With the level of competition so close in the Renault UK Clio Cup, Jade knows just a small improvement could catapult her up the order with Donington Park the next venue later in the month.
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