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STREATHER FORCED TO SIT-OUT FIRST RACES OF CLIO CUP SEASON AFTER SUFFERING CONCUSSION IN HUGE TESTING ACCIDENT

  • Title contender Streather forced to miss Rds1&2 on doctor’s orders
  • Heavy contact from rival in testing wrecks car and shatters hopes
  • Streather’s championship potentially destroyed before season begins
  • Leicestershire driver targeting Donington Park return in two weeks

Renault UK Clio Cup title contender Paul Streather watched his 2017 hopes dealt a hammer blow of nightmarish proportions before the new season had even started at Brands Hatch over the weekend, 1st/2nd April, as a result of heavy contact from a rival in pre-event testing.

Beginning his second year in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship support category in fine style with the third fastest time in the first of two practice sessions on Friday, 31st March, the WDE Motorsport racer couldn’t have anticipated the huge collision which followed in session two.

What initially looked to be an innocuous spin at Graham Hill Bend midway through the run soon turned into disaster for the Hinckley-based driver. As he waited to get his Clio going in the right direction again, another driver surprisingly slammed into Streather’s stricken car.

Leading to immense damage for both vehicles, each competitor was taken to the circuit medical centre and Streather was transported to nearby hospital. Thankfully, a CT scan gave the all-clear but he had to gain permission to compete in Saturday’s qualifying session, and the subsequent races, from the circuit doctor who declined the possibility on the grounds of the concussion sustained.

Aside from the severity of the incident, insult was added to injury for Streather due to a change in championship regulations this year. For the first time the old ‘drop score’ ruling, which meant drivers could deduct their worst results of the season before calculating final totals, is no longer applicable.

Dealing the 27-year-old’s championship hopes a massive blow, the Michael Smith Switchgear and AVW Fabrications-backed racer is now eyeing a return to action a fortnight from now during rounds three and four at his local track, Donington Park. First, though, he will need medical clearance.

“Session one on Friday was absolutely brilliant, the car felt amazing and the team did a fantastic job with it”, he explained, “For session two we went out with some older front tyres, some newer rears, but the balance wasn’t quite right so I came in for the new fronts. I was just getting them up to temperature and the rear let go into Graham Hill, I thought I’d kept it but it was nothing major.

“I sat there waiting to pull away again, then got collected by the other car – I’m not too happy about that, obviously. I think we were on for a really strong weekend, but instead we’ve had to miss both races and now we’ve got to wait to see what happens as to whether I’ll be passed fit for Donington.”

Monumental effort from WDE Motorsport gains widespread praise
The one positive out of all of the drama and disappointment was the incredible work of the WDE Motorsport mechanics who, somehow, managed to completely re-shell, fully prep and even apply a full new livery to Streather’s repaired Clio – truly phenomenal stuff.

Working tirelessly through the night on Friday, the team completed the Herculean task at 6am on Saturday morning before it became clear Streather wouldn’t be given permission to return to track action in either qualifying or the races.

He added: “I genuinely couldn’t believe, from the state the car was in, they had turned it around like they did with a re-shell by 6am the next morning. Every team in the paddock said how impressed they were and the Renaultsport people from France, who were at Brands, said in all the Clio Cup championships around the world they’ve never seen a re-shell overnight.

“Hopefully we can get the all-clear for Donington and give the team the results they deserve. There’s still plenty to achieve, we’ve got to go out there and prove we’ve got the pace to be race winners and be at the front, that’s where we belong. The championship might be out of reach already, but it doesn’t mean race wins are.”

Team manager of WDE, three-time Renault UK Clio Cup champion Paul Rivett, was absolutely glowing in his praise of the team’s mechanics and engineers, but also devastated to see Streather’s season begin on such a sour note.

“As far as I know, a re-shell like that has never been done before”, said Rivett, “It was an amazing job by the team, a massive group effort. Some of them had half an hour’s sleep, some had a couple of hours, one or two just went to have a shower and came back to the track for Saturday’s action.

“The fact Paul couldn’t race because of medical reasons is a massive shame and I really feel for him, but the rebuild wasn’t a wasted effort as it shows what we can do as a team at WDE. We’re the strongest team in the paddock this year, we have the team and the drivers. We’re hoping Paul will be back fighting fit at Donington now, fingers crossed that’s all going to happen.”

Rounds three and four of the Clio Cup season are scheduled to take place over Easter weekend, 15th/16th April, at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire.

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