12/09/2017

Triple Champ Rivett revved up for 200th Renault UK Clio Cup race at Silverstone

Silverstone this coming weekend (16-17 Sept) is where Paul Rivett can truly lay claim to the moniker ‘Mr Clio Cup’ when he takes to the grid for his 200th race in the category.
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It’s been a remarkable career – one which started with victory in his very first Clio Cup race, back in 2001 around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (pictured left).

Three titles, 111 podium results, 33 fastest laps and 35 pole positions later, we caught up with Rivett ahead of his landmark ‘double centenary’ event. Bear in mind those 111 podiums include 46 victories – a remarkable hit rate of almost 25 per cent.

“I would say that 99.9% of the time, when I’ve got to the end of the day whether it’s been testing, qualifying or racing I’ve always had a huge smile on my face – every time I’ve gone out on track in one of these cars it’s given me nothing but huge enjoyment,” reflected Rivett.

While the title eluded Rivett in his debut season, 2002 was different and he was able to clinch the crown against opposition that included future World Touring car champion Robert Huff, reigning champ Daniel Buxton and his own Team Firstair team-mate Andrew Kirkaldy who would go on to international GT racing acclaim.

Title number two came in 2004 after Rivett fought off Jonathan Adam (champ in 2005 and who since has gone on to two British GT crowns as well as a famous class win in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours).

It would be seven more years before Rivett sewed up the title for a third time however against opposition that included current British Touring Car stars Aron Taylor-Smith, Jack Goff and Ant Whorton-Eales (champions in 2012 and 2016 respectively) as well as fellow 2017 UK Clio Cup racers James Colburn and Lee Pattison – the latter now among his WDE Motorsport team-mates!

“I feel very fortunate to still be out there racing at such a high level,” added Rivett. “Looking back I have to say that winning it for the first time in 2002 remains perhaps the biggest highlight of all.

“Winning it for the second time in 2004 with one of the least experienced teams on the grid (Boulevard) and again in 2011 when I went back to Stancombe Engineering where I’d started out in 2001 and as a single-car team with no team-mate to share data with were both special.

“But that first title – I’d won at the lower levels of motor sport but suddenly I’d got a title at a much higher level of the sport. It’s your first big one and it’s a feeling you can’t ever experience again. That one really stands out.”

Rivett has raced every conceivable configuration of Clio Cup race car since 2001 and points to the ‘second generation’ model he drove that first year as his favourite so far.

He explained: “The latest ‘Gen 4’ is a fantastic car – so well engineered, really stable and very driver friendly. But I really loved the 2001 cars – probably because they were always on a knife edge even with the rear tyres heated up.”

Just turned 39, Rivett’s role within the WDE set-up extends beyond just that of driver – he is also the squad’s team manager and revealed: “It’s a bit like an ageing pro footballer turning manager but in this game of course I’m still able to compete. But the team management role is something I also really enjoy and if any of our drivers get a pole or race win it’s like I’ve won as well.”

Looking back Rivett knows there could have had five, six, maybe more titles to his name but insisted: “It doesn’t matter how good you are – at any level of motor sport you still need that bit of luck which sometimes hasn’t gone my way.

“I just want to thank everyone who’s enabled me to race in the UK Clio Cup – family, friends, sponsors and teams. They all know who they are.

“For me there is nothing else even remotely on this level in UK motor sport. The whole package – the teams, the competition, fantastic build of the cars, being on the BTCC bill and live on ITV4, the people involved, the environment it gives sponsors... Nothing else compares until you start going maybe into the BTCC.”

He concluded: “I might be a bit older and my reactions probably aren’t quite what they were when I was younger but I feel my experience outweighs that. I feel like I’m driving as well as ever and don’t have any plans at all to stop. Here’s to the next 200 races and hopefully a few more titles!”