Paul Streather has told TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk of his delight at taking a podium finish on his Renault UK Clio Cup debut at Brands Hatch GP.
Running with series returnees Finesse Motorsport, Streather headed into the race weekend with just a trackday at Rockingham under his belt in a fourth-generation Clio.
After showing top six pace in Friday practice, Streather stunned the paddock in qualifying with a pair of fourth place grid starts, lapping eight tenths of a second off pole.
Things didn’t go his way in the opening race however, with contact from Luke Kidsley heading into Stirlings for the first time sending him across track into Ant Whorton-Eales, eliminating both on the spot.
Streather bounced back in style in race two though, moving up to second in-between two early safety car periods, before becoming embroiled in a thrilling duel for victory with Ashley Sutton.
“We arrived to this weekend as the complete underdog and I was so nervous,” Streather reflected after the race.
“We went out in free practice and realised we did have some pace though. The Finesse boys have done an amazing job on the car and that meant I could go better in qualifying than I could have ever dreamed with two fourths.
“The first race didn’t go to plan at all, I got caught up in an incident out on track and didn’t finish, so to come back and finish the weekend like this is better than I could have ever hoped for.”
Streather admits the opportunity to go one-on-one with the eventual champion was one he relished, with the two of them trading the lead on numerous occasions over the second half of the race.
“It was an amazing battle, an amazing race,” he enthused. “I believe I had the pace to beat him, but I could tell he was so desperate for the race win. He put some great moves on me and credit to him, he deserved the win.”
Streather entered the Clio Cup as the recently-crowned 2015 Michelin Clio Cup Series vice-champion, and he feels he’s showcased the potential at the head of the BARC-run club championship.
“I think it makes you realise that some of the drivers at the front of that championship are certainly as quick and they could be battling at the front in this series,” he said.
“It could be a great feeder series into the Clio Cup and I’m over the moon to show what the Clio Series boys can do.”
Following such an impressive debut, Streather added that he is keen to enter the championship full-time next season if budget allows.
“Financially we need to see what we can do, I’m used to running my cars as a privateer so joining up with teams like this is a new game to me, but I certainly want to be here next season,” he concluded.