Will Hunt extends winning streak and points lead at rain-hit Brands Hatch
Will Hunt’s 2021 winning streak remains unbroken, having monopolised the top step of the podium in Rounds 3 and 4 of the Radical SR1 Cup on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (Saturday 8 May).
The Motorsport UK Academy driver was quick straight out of the blocks, setting the pace in Friday testing on Brands Hatch’s shortened Indy configuration while also taking the time to bed-in wet Hankook tyres, aware that rain featured prominently in the weekend forecast.
As predicted, heavy and persistent rain lashed the Kent circuit on Saturday morning, adding extra jeopardy to the all-important qualifying session.
It was a journey into the unknown as the SR1 Cup contenders ventured onto the unforgiving Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit for the first time, and an early trip into the Paddock Hill Bend gravel for Hunt proved how treacherous the prevailing conditions were.
Red flags flew, and after being extracted from the kitty litter, Hunt was mercifully able to participate in the remaining 15 minutes of qualifying.
The West Sussex-domiciled racer tentatively upped the pace and, following a second stoppage, maxed out on a 1m48.169s to secure P3 on the Round 3 grid, his second-best time of 1m48.928s good enough for third in the Round 4 starting order.
The rain dissipated but grip was still at a premium in the first 20-minute Radical SR1 Cup race of the day, the vast majority choosing to tackle the drying track surface with a wet car setup and grooved Hankooks.
Hunt was fast yet controlled off the start and found grip on the inside at Paddock Hill to challenge Dean Warriner and Nick Zapolski, who tangled on the rise to Druids and left a car’s width for him to slip through into the lead.
The Safety Car neutralised the action at the end of lap one, and a canny restart allowed race and championship leader Hunt to make a break and simply focus on the critical task of managing the temperature of his wet tyres, en route to another controlled victory.
In race two, confident of his pace in the dry, Hunt dispensed of Warriner before Paddock Hill and placed polesitter Zapolski under immense pressure in a successful bid to create an opening, which came on the second tour of the Kent circuit.
Having gone side-by-side with Zapolski on the first dash around the Grand Prix loop, Hunt actually took the initiative in an unorthodox manoeuvre around the outside of Graham Hill Bend, before scampering away by recording consecutive fastest laps after an early Safety Car intervention to take his fourth win in as many races and further extend his championship lead.
“Another two wins are in the bag so we go into this elongated two-month break with a healthy points advantage, which is great,” said Hunt. “The Scorpio Motorsport team has done a great job until now, but we need to continue assessing the weakness, as we’ve lost a couple of points by not getting fastest laps and pole positions, and that can make all the difference in the championship fight. We’re just leaving small bits of the puzzle unfinished, and we’ll be much more comfortable as a team when we know we’ve left nothing on the table.
“I’m naturally really happy with the results. After qualifying I knew we were quick, but I had some passing to do to take the wins, making the races more challenging than they should have been. The season has started really well and we’re at a point where we’re just polishing our approach and searching for small gains. To tell you the truth, I’m a little disappointed that I have to wait so long for the next races, but I’m confident we’ll be able to pick up where we left off.”