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STREATHER PHILOSOPHICAL DESPITE MORE MISFORTUNE AT DONINGTON

  • Clio Cup racer passed fit to race in second event of 2017
  • Misfortune from season-opener continues at Donington
  • Onwards and upwards for Streather as Clios head to Thruxton

Front-running Renault UK Clio Cup racer Paul Streather encountered another event of exasperation and misfortune at Donington Park over Easter weekend, 15th/16th April, as the shocking bad luck which blighted the start of his season a fortnight ago carried over to his ‘home’ race meeting. 

Everything started positively for the Hinckley racer on the morning of the official test on Thursday when doctors gave him the all-clear to participate, having been sidelined from the first event of the campaign at Brands Hatch as a result of concussion sustained in a practice day accident there.

If the WDE Motorsport driver didn’t have bad luck this year, though, he’d have no luck at all and misfortune struck once again when a driveshaft issue in the first test session, followed by another mechanical problem in session two, meant he barely had any laps. 

Going into qualifying on Saturday afternoon on the back-foot compared to his rivals, Streather produced a strong showing and although having to settle for the 13th fastest time he was only 0.5 seconds shy of pole position. Furthermore, he was on a quicker lap still during the closing stages of the session but red flags were produced after an incident which scuppered his chances.

Determined to make strong progress in the first of Easter Sunday’s two races, Streather got away from the line nicely and was well positioned to gain places as a multi-car tangle occurred just ahead out of the first corner.

With one car spinning in the centre of the track at Hollywood, the WDE racer made the correct decision to steer to the right in avoidance but, as he lifted off the throttle to take account of the incident, he was hit from behind – resulting in significant damage to his left-rear corner.

With the race red flagged, Streather actually got out of his car to check his left-rear wheel was intact and eventually managed to crawl back to the pits where the team quickly got to work facilitating repairs and fitting a new wheel.

At the re-start he had to begin from the pit-lane, effectively 19th position, and gained a couple of places over the first two laps. Having closed right-up behind Graham Field at the end of lap three, the Jamsport driver chose to hug the inside into Redgate so Streather looked to pass on the outside.

Thinking better of it as Field drifted wide, Streather tucked back in and stayed glued to his rival through the next few turns. Getting a run on the inside out of McLeans, Streather was alongside on the rise into Coppice and looked to have the pass all but sealed when contact to the left side of his car from Field pitched Streather across the circuit to the left and into the gravel – instant retirement.

“You can’t quite believe the luck we’ve had, all bad”, said Streather, “Race one was a disaster and frustrating for it to end the way it did – there was no need for the contact and it wasn’t what we needed at all after missing the first round. To say I was mad is an understatement…”

For round four later in the day, Streather started in 12th position and moved up into the top 10 but after being edged to the outside at McLeans and through Coppice, he was shuffled down to 15th place by the end of the opening tour as a train of Clios swept through.

Involved in a major multi-car battle over the next few laps, the Michael Smith Switchgear and AVW Fabrications driver raced strongly. Frustratingly though, hopes of a potential top 10 result at least went awry when Streather was served with a drive-through penalty for an adjudged false start. Ultimately, the race was red flagged due to an incident on lap 11 and Streather finished in 18th. 

“We know we had the pace to take two good results this weekend, but for some reason we’ve had a nightmare”, Streather added, “I was having a good battle in race two and didn’t see the drive-through boards, I wasn’t checking the pit wall as I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong at the start. 

“It’s been a really frustrating weekend but there’s no point looking back, we need to look forward to Thruxton now and show what we can do there. Hopefully this week’s test will go as we want it to so we can go into the races next month with a good base to start from.”

Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, the fastest track on the Clio Cup calendar, will host rounds five and six of the season over the weekend 6th/7th May. The official pre-event test there takes place this Thursday, 20th April.

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