hunt extends rookie cup lead at donington park
The penultimate round of the Radical SR1 Championship was a mixed event for Scorpio Motorsport driver Will Hunt who travelled to Donington Park hoping to extend his lead in the Rookie Cup and also to maintain third in the overall standings.
Hunt was joined by Kokoro Performance for free practise in the build up to the race weekend to help develop his race craft and preparation.
Kokoro is run by former Formula Renault champion Kieran Clark who works with some of the sports finest young and coming drivers; as well as Kieran, British GT and former Mclaren Rising Star Scott Malvern also joined Hunt during testing; Having identified the areas for improvement, the trio wasted no time trimming down the lap times and finding the critical areas to unlocking pace from the #21 SR1.
“We worked extremely hard on the time being lost on the brakes. A lot of my rivals are able to get on them later than us and that’s what has been costing time; Thanks to the help of Scott and Kieran at Kokoro we have been able to unlock a lot of the time we were losing both in one lap pace and also overall race pace.”
The weather for the weekend looked set to be extremely wet in the build up with forecasts predicting rain all day long. However an early qualifying session seemed to remain completely dry despite threatening a downpour. It was critical then that the team got the quick laps in the dry before the inevitable rain came.
During the out lap for Qualifying Hunt noted the car was beginning to overheat significantly; a gremlin that last occurred at Oulton Park at the season opener. Nevertheless, Hunt squeezed in a quick lap before bringing the car in to show the mechanics the issue. A quick inspection suggested that the team needed to open the air into the intakes; once allowing this they sent Hunt out again, however the problem remained for the duration of the session. Whilst driving in to the pits at the end of Qualifying the #21 Scorpio SR1 begun to billow smoke from the overheating so the team begun to work on identifying the issue.
“It was a technical issue we had back at Oulton Park, essentially the Air Intake has a flap on the inside which stays up by a pin, unfortunately the flap had unpinned itself and folded shut preventing air from getting to the systems, hence the smoke. Luckily the session finished in time before we did any serious damage but sadly the performance of the car was limited with the overheating and we lost about six tenths on the straights which is a shame as this would have put us around P2/3. P5 & 6 is not where I want to be starting ideally, but it is pole for the Rookie cup and that is what is crucial for me.” - Hunt
Over Lunch the heavens finally opened and the rain covered the circuit, the recipe for Hunt to progress up the order.
At the start of Race 1 Hunt pulled to the outside to get the Wet line before cutting in; Amazingly, a gaggle of cars ahead out-braked themselves into Redgate (Turn 1) and ran wide allowing Hunt to drive up into P4. Settling in to the Race Will began finding his rhythm in the rain, maintaining a healthy lead to the car behind and Rookie Cup Rival Chris Short.
Astonishingly, Overall Championship protagonists Pinkerton and Harper-Ellam colliding forcing the latter to retire promoting Hunt to P3. Short was unable to maintain the level of consistency of Will in the wet and the pair would keep position up until a safety car was released following an incident further back down the grid.
On the restart, there was just the one lap remaining; Hunt had a better start than Pinkerton however a backmarker had been collected by the safety car between the pair and during the release had it blocked Hunt from driving to the outside of Pinkerton, Short then made a move up the inside on the slippery dry line which at the exit of Redgate forced him wide out into the side of Hunt causing bodywork damage to the #21 SR1 and pushing him back down to 4th on the final lap.
Despite this, Will had the pace to stick up in the rear wing of Short and produce an extreme level of pressure, this would be the Radical Works driver’s downfall as he tried to defend from Hunt into Copse corner, locked up his tyres and went into the gravel, not only promoting Hunt back into P3 on the final lap but also giving Hunt another Rookie Cup podium.
“The conditions were very difficult out there, the rain got worse as the session went on and it was all about finding the perfect line for the changing conditions. I’m hoping the rain carries on into Race 2 so we can continue to push forward but this podium and Rookie race win is really important for the overall standings. The Rookie cup is by no means over yet and we need to do everything we can to keep ahead on track.”
The sun begun to break its way through the grey clouds before Race 2 however the threat of rain remained. As the cars were called out to the assembly area, Hunt decided to put the Hankook Dry ‘Slick’ tyres on the basis that the track was drying out.
However whilst in the assembly area, some sports of rain appeared on the Scorpio #21 SR1 Car- Upon seeing this, Scorpio mechanics surprised everyone on the grid by putting on the Hankook Wet tyres at the very last moment. If the rain were to come down then Hunt would be just one of two cars on the grid to be on the Wet tyres and could potentially be a race winning decision by the team.
As the lights went out the team’s decision would prove costly as Hunt begun to be overtaken before even arriving at the breaking point for Turn 1 and demoted down the order.
For the whole 20 minutes of racing, not a sign of rain appeared and the decision to put the wet tyres on proved a great gamble gone wrong. Hunt would finish the race in P9 however a late retirement from a Rookie cup competitor would mean that Hunt would finish 3rd for Rookies in the standings which reduces the damage of the race.
“Not the greatest race unfortunately. We spotted some rain in assembly and decided to throw the wets on; im confident if the rain were to have come down we would have potentially been up the fighting for the top step. If anything the sun came out even more and the track was completely dry by the half way point. It was a gamble and as a team we have to accept the fact it was probably the wrong decision; but as a team we win and lose together so we will come back stronger.
"We have a couple months (November 10th) before the finale and we have a fantastic testing programme lined up to prepare for this. After a bit of critical self-reflection from Donington I can say I didn’t give it 100% out there at any point over the weekend so what is vital for both myself and the team is that we go to Brands Hatch and can give it everything we’ve got for my home crowd who im really looking forward to putting a show on for!” – Hunt
The finale of the 2018 Radical SR1 Cup commences on 10th November at Brands Hatch. We would like to welcome any guests to join us at Will’s home race to join us in our hospitality area for the race. Please get in contact to find out more.