A rising motorsport star Laura Tillett made an impressive and highly encouraging test debut at the wheel of a Renault Clio Cup race car at a rain-hit Brands Hatch on Tuesday, 24th January – so much so, the 20-year-old is now focusing her efforts on securing a 2012 race deal in the championship.
Driving a car prepared by multiple title-winning team Total Control Racing, the squad with which Nicolas Hamilton – younger brother of 2008 FIA Formula One World Champion Lewis – competed in 2011, former karting sensation Laura adapted well to the demands of the 2.0-litre Clio.
Although persistent rain and a very slippery track surface didn’t make for ideal conditions in which to debut, the West Malling starlet made strong progress throughout the day. Taking everything learnt during nine years of top-level karting and adapting that to the altogether different demands of a ‘tin top’ saloon car, Laura shone and underlined her position as one of the UK’s top female talents.
“I really, really enjoyed the test and I felt very confident by the end of the day, even with the weather against me, so it couldn’t have been much better”, said the Kent racer, “Having never been in a saloon car before, I didn’t know what to expect but it was fantastic. The team is really lovely, they gave me a lot of help during the day and gave me some great advice.
“The test has definitely swayed me into looking at a future in saloons, I know I’d be comfortable racing in something like Clios. I always thought single-seaters would be the way to go after karting but the Clio is so much fun to drive. Hopefully we’ll be able to arrange another test soon with TCR.”
In order to make the step-up to car racing this year, Laura needs to attract sufficient sponsorship and commercial backing. As the first British female to ever compete in the top class of the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship though, her talent and potential is clear to see along with her marketability.
TCR team principal Lee Brookes, himself a former Clio Champion in the mid-Nineties and a Privateer Cup winner in the high profile British Touring Car Championship, was impressed with Laura’s maiden run – especially with the poor weather making the debut markedly trickier.
“Laura adapted to the Clio really well and for her first ever time in one of these cars, we were very encouraged”, Brookes commented, “It’s difficult to come in from karts, put aside some of the things that come naturally there and learn the different things you need to try and get the most from a car like a Clio. The conditions were terrible but she did a great job, we’d love to run Laura this year.”
There are just over two months remaining before the start of the 2012 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK season, with rounds one and two of the 16-race campaign scheduled to take place at Brands Hatch in Kent over the weekend 31st March/1st April.
Running as support to the high-profile Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Clio Cup is expected to once again enjoy prime live television coverage on the ITV network this year while also being watched by tens of thousands of spectators trackside at each venue.