Top ten season review: No.4 Paul Rivett – as hungry as ever

Looking back, Paul Rivett is in no doubt that events at Oulton Park and Croft were to blame for missing out on his chance of a fourth Renault UK Clio Cup crown in 2016.
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The WDE Motorsport driver last tasted title success in 2011 and after the opening three events of 2016, at Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Thruxton, there was every reason to believe a fourth was potentially on the cards.

Rivett achieved third and second place results at both Brands Indy’s and Donington’s fixtures. These were followed by fourth and seventh places at Thruxton (where he needed every bit of his considerable skill to hold on to a 100mph slide).

But next came two weekends that he is convinced proved to be his undoing…

“Looking back, Oulton was a horrible weekend for us,” says Rivett. “Seventh place in race one was just not where we should have ended up. Then in race two we finished fourth on the road but a time penalty for exceeding track limits dropped us to 12. Normally I can take things on the chin but that one… I felt very hard done by.

“By contrast Croft started off very nicely with our first win of the season! In race two we were out in front again with a comfortable lead when suddenly the car slowed and I was out. It was frustrating because it was an electrical fault with the car that is unheard of.

“Without that we may even have left back in the championship lead but that non-finish really hurt us.”

Another retirement would follow in Snetterton’s first race following an opening lap clash with Ant Whorton-Eales. Third place with fastest lap in race two though underlined his pace at the Norfolk circuit…

Two second places in very different weather conditions at Rockingham kept him in contention but time was running out to cut into the gap that championship leaders Ant Whorton-Eales and Mike Bushell had started to build up. Silverstone then was crucial in terms of his aspirations but, despite two fourth places there, he went to the season finale around Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix circuit knowing the title was now out of reach.

The manner in which he muscled past Whorton-Eales and then closed down and passed Josh Price in the closing moments for victory in race one there was classic Rivett (he also set the fastest lap for a maximum score – Whorton-Eales and Bushell were the only other drivers to achieve this in 2016).

Third position in the standings looked assured but a high-profile clash with Whorton-Eales in race two, the final round of the season, proved costly. It earned him a time penalty and third was lost to Max Coates by just a single point.

Rivett has no problem discussing his scuffles with eventual champion Whorton-Eales. “At Snetterton Ant and Mike (Bushell) braked earlier than I expected so I tried to go between them but the gap was too small and I actually hit them both. It was a mistake on my part and I put my hands up to that one.

“There was one at Rockingham which I’d say was down to Ant for turning in on me. At Brands the data shows I was on the brakes all the way into the corner – sure it might have been a bit ambitious but it wasn’t intentional.”

However he prefers to look back on another strong season with his WDE Motorsport team which, should he race for in 2017, is sure to give him a car again capable of challenging for that elusive fourth title.

“For me we started 2016 as the strongest car out there,” enthuses Rivett. “We didn’t quite have the luck on our side at Oulton and Croft and that put us on the back-foot a little bit. We weren’t quite able to get back from there.

“But we had massive potential and proved every time out that we were real title contenders. And while I’m no spring chicken any more like some of them I’d say I’m just as fast, just as aggressive and just as hungry as ever.”