Paul had only managed to get one full practice session under his belt on the new for 2013 Dunlop tyres, as the opening practice session was always going to be an uphill struggle. Paul managed to set a time that was good enough for 7th in race one and his next fastest time qualified him 6th for race 2.
In race 1 Paul made a good start off the line and managed to stay in 7th place going into Paddock Hill bend in the middle of a pack jostling for position. The safety car was then deployed due to a start line crash. After the safety car had gone in Paul set about trying to take 6th place from Jake Giddings. Paul managed to get passed Giddings after he went wide at Graham Hill bend but Paul was unable to pull away and a lap later Giddings took a lung up the inside at Paddock that almost sent Paul into the gravel but Paul was able to hold the slide without the loss of a place. Paul was then able to latch onto the battle for 4th place in the final laps of the race. He was able to follow Alex Morgan through when he passed Hodgetts for 4th, receiving a tap to the front wheels in the process, Paul ended the race in 5th place.
In race 2 Paul made a lightening start and was upto 3rd, by Paddock Hill. Once again there was a safety car period to recover a stranded car at clearways. Once the safety car had gone in Paul was looking for a way past Colburn in 2nd. That moment duely arrived when Colburn made a mistake coming out of Graham Hill bend allowing Paul to storm past. Paul was straight onto the back of the leader Morgan but was unable to find a safe way past so settled for 2nd place. A remarkable result considering he had only found out he was racing on Wednesday morning. Paul’s points haul for the weekend was considerably better than last seasons opening races and with Paul and the team continuing to learn and find more speed from the new tyres Paul is looking forward to the rest of the season.
After the race Paul said “I was lined up to do the ITV4 commentary for this race”, said the three-time champion, “My name was down on the sheet of paper…I really didn’t expect to be here racing this weekend. I’ve got to say a great big thank you to our new sponsor, names.co.uk and, of course, PER HIRE as usual.
“This race was only the fourth time I’ve driven on the Dunlop tyres, we had one test session – we missed most of the first with a problem – then qualifying and the two races. We’ve just got quicker and quicker every time and we’re going to get faster too, so watch this space at Donington! We arrived here this weekend without any testing and we’ve still come away with great points.”