Hunt takes another rookie win in a weekend of mixed results
Will Hunt and Scorpio Motorsport arrived at Snetterton Circuit on Friday with very high hopes at what had proved to be a very strong track for them during Pre-Season testing.
Before proceedings could get underway for Free Practice, the team unveiled their livery for the rest of the season giving the Gen 2 #21 SR1 an extra touch of beauty to match its style.
Once the cover was off it was time to get practice under way. The initial pace in practice was consistent-however as the session went on the skillful Scorpio crew identified what appeared to be some issues with the brakes on the #21. By the end of the day the team had rectified the issue which was a build up of air in the brake system which meant that Will could not brake as late as he would have wanted to; slowing his lap down. This was fixed and ready for Qualifying on Saturday.
"Practice on the Friday is split into slots-specifically 4 this weekend. By the end of session 3 the brake issue was fixed and we now had the tools to go out on track for the 4th practice run and really light the timings up. However there was a lot of traffic out on the circuit and we just couldn't find the space to get laps in, a real shame but we know where the time is now for Qualifying so we're going to sleep on it and do our homework ready for it."
Some new faces joined the grid this weekend, all with plenty of experience with one new driver coming from Radical's SR3 cars and another who is part of the Audi Motorsport Program.
This meant Hunt's charge for the front end would be his biggest challenge yet. A regulation change took place too with the traditional race start being swapped to a rolling start-this meant it was vital that Hunt could put the #21 SR1 as far up the grid as possible to ensure he would be in a strong place at the start.
With Hunt's average lap time at the warm Snetterton circuit being a low-2 minute lap, Will dug deep and managed to put down a personal best 1:58.8 to put him in P4 for the race start and managing to beat one of the heavily experience drivers.
"I wouldn't be lying if i said when i came over the start line and i saw the 1:58 pop up that i had to give the the dash a quick tap in disbelief! Really happy with the time and what is even more important is that i know where the time to be made is so all in all feeling very confident looking ahead to the first race"
With the sun beaming down on the track, Hunt rolled up to the rolling start for his first ever attempt and did a great job in the meantime, retaining position through the first turn, however an attempt to switch back on P3 into the first hairpin left Will wide and vulnerable to attack from the hard charging Ollie Wilkinson behind, the Audi Driver forced Will wide and a great battle commenced for position. For the duration of the race Will Hunt for the first time was in a superb 3-way battle for 4th Place with Will at the rear, ready to pounce.
This battle went all the way to the last lap when Will realised it was the last lap his true colours shone and he picked up the pace, coming into the hairpin on the last corner, Will was right up the exhaust of his rivals. Ducking and diving he struggled to find the pass and on the last corner before the long back straight, Will applied his throttle early to maximise his speed down the straight-but the #21 SR1 begun to complain at the demands and sent Will wide onto the straight. It didn't take long for the Scorpio Driver to catch back up and as they came across the finish line- 4th, 5th and 6th were separated by just half a second.
"I had such a great time out there, the battle with these guys was fantastic, I felt my last chance to make the move was onto the back straight however when i got back on the throttle i got a little bit of under-steer and was out wide on the straight. I really felt i had one, if not both of them on overall race pace so hopefully if the second race is anything like this then I cant wait!"
During the Lunch break the Snetterton Circuit was bombarded by heavy rain which delayed the proceedings of the day slightly. Scorpio Motorsport watched carefully as the rain stopped how the circuit was changing with the Monoposto Championship and Mini Festival taking part, the team were hoping that these cars would carve a dry path for the SR1 Cup and allow teams to potentially run Dry tyres. despite this Will Hunt made a last minute call to put the wet tyres on, this begun a chain effect as other drivers begun to do the same. James Pinkerton would be the only driver to take the gamble on the dry tyres in the hope the circuit would continue to dry.
On the out lap it became very clear to the drivers that the track was extremely slippery, Will knew it would be a real task to handle his #21 SR1.
As the lights went out on the rolling start Hunt's start was superb. An initial dive to the outside of James Pinkerton who struggled for grip meant Will could also steal 4th , promoting him to Second. Astonishingly Will found himself with plenty of grip through Riches Corner and with his exit speed was bearing down the wing of Ryan Harper-Ellam in first.
Hunt stayed to the outside as Ryan defended and went for the switch-back on the Radical Works driver. Both drivers struggled for grip on exit however it was Ryan that had the dryer and inside line for Turn 3 making for excellent demonstration of skill and awareness from both drivers. On the back end of the circuit Will found himself in the thick and heat of a battle between very experienced drivers- It would only be a matter of time before their experience would begin to challenge Hunt and, coming in to Nelson corner. Will found himself on the receiving end of a hard fought challenge from Chris Preen who found his way up the inside, and then Ollie Wilkinson into Bomb-Hole corner.
As Will begun to find his groove, he begun to notice on Lap 2 some dryer areas on the track and begun to experiment some later braking. However, on lap 3 this would prove to be a mistake. As he arrived at Riches Corner Will went to brake far later into the corner, as he did so the car begun to lock up and whilst Will desperately demanded more opposite lock to keep his car facing the right way, the #21 Scorpio SR1 went to the wet and damp inside grass where it collided with a traffic bollard and across the track into the outside grass area where it came to rest.
"Not quiet how I planned to finish this weekend. Got up to P2 and had a little bite of the Cherry for P1 but just when i was getting in to the flow I thought i saw a dry line emerging so started pushing the braking later into turn 1. Luckily the car only needed a new starter motor after the incident so we didn't have any major damage.
The guys back in the garage have been so great this weekend and I really wanted to give them something to cheer about in the second race after that start. But they have also been positive in reminding me that this is my first ever time racing in the rain. These things do have to happen to learn from them unfortunately and all i can do is keep my head up. I just hope they accept the bottle of bubbly from the first race as an apology for getting mud all over the car!
Because of the way the points are structured the DNF does really damage our Rookie Cup charge. This only motivates me looking ahead to Silverstone in about a Month where i promise to come back stronger.
Can Will re-ignite his charge in the SR1 Cup? Find out when we head to Silverstone on 23rd June?