Cliffe returning to square one

Tristan Cliffe is expecting to overhaul his Omicron Motorsport Dallara ahead of the overseas rounds at Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks’ time after a tricky time at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

Tristan Cliffe is expecting to overhaul his Omicron Motorsport Dallara ahead of the overseas rounds at Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks' time after a tricky time at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

Rounds five and six of the 2014 F3 Cup championship saw the Norfolk man lose ground to standings leader Toby Sowery, despite the Lanan Racing youngster being beaten for the first time this year. Cliffe could only manage a fifth in race one before returning to the podium in race two.

"I have a sneaking suspicion I may revert to the 2013 set-up and reset," admitted Cliffe. "Trying to chase Toby, I changed a few things after Silverstone and Snetterton. It's hard to know if it was just the Rockingham track, but they haven't really worked. I should be on the pace of Alice [Powell], like I was last year. I might revert."

While Cliffe hadn't been to Rockingham for more than five years, Spa is a place he knows and likes. A good start at the Belgian track will be key, and that's something Cliffe seems now to be managing, after handicapping himself with slow getaways in 2013.

"I'm not going to say it's become a habit in 2014 - there's an element of good luck involved - but I was pleased with my start at Rockingham. I thought I could get past Alice into turn one after I passed Toby and thought I might be able to snatch the lead. She closed the door fairly and early."

Sowery continues to impress Cliffe, who was powerless to resist the four-time F3 Cup race winner when he made a move for second-place at the hairpin.

"I thought I'd keep Toby behind me and that lasted about a lap and a half.  He just braked later than me for Tarzan, pulled a really good move and still got on the power. I couldn't keep with him, he wasn't pulling away that much but it was enough, so I concentrated on Louis [Hamilton-Smith].

"I managed to pull away once I'd found some more pace and the car felt better, but it was eight-tenths slower."

Those eight-tenths, and falling back from 2013 rival Powell at Rockingham, have forced Cliffe to reassess before F3 Cup's return on 27-29 June in Belgium.

Photo credit - Jonathan Hatfield