Mulbarton racer Tristan Cliffe reflects on moment his dreams were shattered at Snetterton
- Credit: Archant
Tristian Cliffe's title winning sequence may have come to an end this year, but he believes that but for an incident on his home track of Snetterton he may well have lifted the F3 Cup.
'I would like to think I was the fastest driver out there,' said the Mulbarton racer, who has regrets about the incident which ultimately cost him a chance of lifting the prestigious title.
'In hindsight I should have pulled back and then attacked again,' reflected Cliffe over an on-track clash with arch-rival Alice Powell resulting in both drivers slamming into the Riches safety barrier at high speed.
'I'm racing and expect to be given a car's width when a driver is alongside and overtaking,' – a position which the officials of the meeting didn't agree with and slammed Cliffe with a reprimand and the two penalty points on his race licence which go with it.
Independent observers, which includes this writer, thought the judgement harsh as Powell, who was half a car's length ahead, drove for the apex of the corner, taking Cliffe's ground, allowing him no racing room.
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The on-track rivalry then spilled over between Cliffe and Powell in the paddock as Powell's team worked feverishly to repair her car for the following day's race. Cliffe's family, who run Omicron Motorsport outfit, were in no in position to fix his.
However, the local team did have a spare car sitting at home and while permission was granted by the rest of the competitors for Cliffe to swap cars, Powell would not sign the waiver, leaving the Mulbarton racer to watch race two from the sidelines. With Powell spinning her repaired car on the opening lap of the second September round, the closely-following Alex Craven was unable to avoid a collision, wiping both out on the spot at the Bomb Hole.
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However, Craven still proved to be the beneficiary of the weekend to pass Cliffe in the points table and closed down Powell's early season advantage which he then eroded in the final four races, by beating her each time, and ultimately claiming the crown by 11 points at the series' final race at Snetterton.
Needing to make up for non-scoring at his home event, Cliffe admitted he 'pushed too hard', resulting in him non-scoring in the next race at Donington Park and spinning away victory in the second race when the series returned to Snetterton for the final round in late October.
However, Cliffe's six victories were the most of any driver and combined with the most pole positions plus seven fastest laps from the nine rounds, the records do back up his claim of being the fastest F3 Cup driver of the season, even if the Norfolk racer had to settle for third place in the final standings.