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Byrne Soars to Success in European Clio Cup Debut 

Updated: Jun 5

Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of the Year Jack Byrne enjoyed a superb debut in the European Clio Cup Championship at the opening weekend of the series at Nogaro.

Having tested at the French venue earlier this month the 20-year old was confident heading into the weekend but under no illusions as to the challenge that lay ahead as 42 drivers would take to the grid to kick start the 2024 season.

After two days of practice in mixed conditions, qualifying was going to be the first opportunity Byrne had to see where he stacked up against his rivals. Feeling that he was hampered by traffic and still searching for the perfect setup on his Clio, he finished the session in P17 but incredibly was only three tenths of a second off P6 on the grid, highlighting the incredibly close nature of the Clio Championship.

The weather closed in for race one and heavy rain hit the Nogaro venue meaning it would be a rather wet start to Byrne’s Clio Cup debut. The organisers decided to start the race behind the safety car which circulated for a few laps before racing got underway. Byrne was on a charge from the off and his GPA Racing Clio was soon moving towards the top 10 and by mid-race he was running in P9 before another incident caused a safety car and subsequent red flag. His debut race also yielded a win in the European Junior Cup. 

Heading into Easter Monday, a second qualifying session would determine the grid for race two. Having worked on the setup with his GPA Racing team, Byrne was determined to be further up the grid than on Saturday and he did just that, popping in a last lap effort to put himself P2 on the grid and on the front row for race two.

As the lights went out at the start of the race, Byrne nailed the start and charged into the lead heading into the first corner. A first lap safety car allowed him to catch his breath and bring the car up to temperature before nailing the restart to give himself a small lead. 

However, with Nogaro featuring two long straights it was hard to break the tow to the pack and soon a queue of cars formed up behind Byrne but he rebuffed all efforts to relieve him of the lead till a mid-race rain shower caused the organisers to throw the red flag on safety grounds. 

As the field was forced to switch onto wet tyres the sun rapidly reappeared and everyone was faced with taking the restart on a fast-drying track on wet tyres. Byrne duly led away again on the restart and held the lead before encountering tyre trouble and he slowly slipped back down the order but brought the car home in P4 overall and took his second European Junior win of the weekend. 

Jack Byrne #86 GPA Racing 

“I could not have asked for a better weekend to kickstart my Clio Cup season. To have led a race in what is an incredibly close and competitive championship and taken home two Junior Cup wins is a great start to the season and I look forward to building on the progress made this weekend when I travel to Portimao at the end of April. A big thanks to my team at GPA Racing and all my supporters for a fantastic weekend of racing!”

Jack Byrne is supported by Motorsport Ireland | Sport Ireland | O’Brien Cement | West Wales Rally Spares | David Byrne Auto Repairs | Slaney View Motors | Ignite Training and Consultancy | Murphy Cars 


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