Will Hunt rounded out the 2021 Radical SR1 Cup Championship on the Donington Park podium to finish a career-best second in the definitive points classification (Saturday 18 September).
The West Sussex-domiciled racer’s 2021 record is unmatched, having tallied five race wins, three second-place results, one fourth and a third, but a solitary retirement at Silverstone in August proved costly, placing him on the backfoot in the title fight.
Hunt had a one-point deficit to eventual winner James Lay entering the season finale, although his championship foe extended his lead by a further two points by securing pole position for both SR1 Cup races in the East Midlands.
However, Qualifying was less than optimal for Hunt, who had the inconvenient task of bedding in a new engine, installed by Scorpio Motorsport following a failure during a third day of testing on Friday (17 September).
The extra workload placed Hunt at a distinct disadvantage, and a Safety Car also denied him and his SR1 opponents opportunities to improve late in the 20-minute session, leaving him fourth on the race one grid and fifth for race two.
Hunt subsequently had a lot to do to prize the SR1 Cup title from Lay’s grasp, and his job was made even harder when he was shuffled down to eighth at the start of Round 10 on Saturday morning.
In a dogged display, he recouped three places before the Safety Car appeared at the end of lap one, surged past fourth-placed Nick Zapolski in a perfectly executed restart and then set purple sector times in pursuit of a podium.
The Motorsport UK Team UK Futures driver went on to squeeze past third-placed Mackenzie Walker on the eighth run into the Melbourne Hairpin, before bridging a 1.1s gap to Frazer McFadden in P2.
The fight raged on to the final lap and the brawling trio went three-wide on Donington’s Grand Prix loop, Hunt crossing the finish line disappointed in fourth after locking his brakes into the last corner.
With a 21-point deficit to Lay, Hunt required points for the victory and fastest lap, as well as ill-fortune for Lay in Round 11 – the final race of the 2021 SR1 Cup Championship season – to stand any chance of winning the title.
In full attack mode from fifth on the grid, Hunt scythed his way up to P3 as the field streamed down the Craner Curves for the first time, but the gaps then stabilised, and the Sussex speedster completed a career-best championship year on the third step of the winners’ rostrum.
“The fact that the championship slipped from our clutches due to something completely out of our control is a bitter pill to swallow, but I’ll be able to reflect on 2021 fondly because there are so many positives,” said Hunt. “Scorpio Motorsport and I were unquestionably the most complete package – we were unbeatable at the start of the year and won more races than anybody – and we deserved to be Champions. It really felt like our year.
“The standings would have looked very different if I hadn’t been taken out of the first race at Silverstone, because a DNF is very costly in a championship with no dropped scores and James (Lay) was always going to be there to take advantage of any mistakes or misfortune. I threw the kitchen sink at this weekend’s races at Donington Park, but in reality the damage was done before the lights went out, especially after qualifying fourth and fifth. On the whole, I’m really pleased with my performances and with how much I’ve developed as a racing driver this year. My racecraft, physical fitness and mental strength are vastly improved, but I can be better still and I'll continue working hard to ensure I'm ready for what 2022 brings.”