Snetterton delight for King's Lynn businessman
Neal Clarke clinched a maiden race win on his home circuit of Snetterton – before announcing a three month sabbatical to spend more time with his family.
The Tilney All Saints driver scooped silverware in both of Sunday's Kumho BMW Championship races driving his Mini Cooper S as he ended a six-year wait for his first-ever race win.
But no sooner had his sensational victory sunk in, the Norfolk Cars proprietor revealed that he would be taking a brief back seat from the track with his wife Sonia expecting their second child in June.
"I was delighted to have my family present to support me, but it’s now time for me to return that favour," said the recently-married Clarke on social media after his Snetterton success.
"I'm still questioning myself how I've managed to do it. I knew my car was quick and the key thing is that I didn't make many mistakes.
"It feels great to get my first win at my home track and I will get back to it, but maybe not this season.
"Ideally, I would like to do the race meeting at Donington on August 14 but we'll have to wait and see if I can get permission."
The Kumho BMW category is split into multiple classes that are defined by the engine capacity of the competitor’s vehicles with the Mini Cooper S's all sporting Kumho tyres.
Saturday's qualifying session saw Clarke second quickest and fellow West Norfolk driver Andy Langley, using a borrowed car, in sixth.
An eventful first race saw the top five Mini’s exchanging places throughout.
Despite dropping down to fifth spot at one stage, the ex-Mini Challenge competitor worked his way back to second spot by the finish with Langley finding himself further down the grid in his donor car.
Sunday's second race saw Clarke go one place better after again dropping down to fifth from second on the grid before batting through to pick up his first ever win. Langley found improvement in his car and sat just behind the leading pack come the chequered flag.
"My set up for the race was perfect and it helped that I knew the track so well," said Clarke afterwards.
"I went down for a practice day on my own, made a few adjustments and kept the car set up exactly the same for both races."
It is hoped that Clarke's success will help grow the mini grid in the long-established BMW championship with a number of former Mini Challenge drivers already pitting their wits against one another.
Anyone who wants to race their mini in the series should visit: https://www.bmwrdc.com
For more about Norfolk Cars, visit: https://www.norfolkcars.co.uk/ or Norfolk Mini Racing visit: https://norfolkminiracing.com/