Will Hunt became a race winner in Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2020 Radical SR1 Cup at Oulton Park in the North West of England (1 August).
Thursday’s test sessions were productive and confidence-inspiring, as the Sussex-domiciled Hunt topped the timesheets until the final throes, when James Pinkerton pulled out three tenths of a second during a lastminute glory run.
The Oulton Park International circuit was very green and slippery during the morning, and grip remained low as the day progressed and ambient temperatures soared to 30 Celsius, causing tyres to overheat.
Hunt’s best laps were heavily compromised by slow-moving traffic from the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, but his deltas suggested he would be in good shape come qualifying on Saturday (1 August) morning.
The Scorpio Motorsport driver duly topped the timesheets and looked to have secured pole position for both SR1 Cup races, until championship leader Pinkerton had one of his fastest times reinstated after successfully appealing an alleged track limits infringement.
As a consequence, Hunt was pipped to pole for race one by just 0.274s, but his second fastest time (1m43.132s) was enough to keep him at the head of the starting grid for race two.
In the first SR1 Cup encounter, Hunt went three-wide with Pinkerton and a fast-starting Ross Elliott on the initial run through Old Hall corner and wrestled P1 from poleman Pinkerton in a bold passing move at the bottom of Cascades.
The Sussex racer would never relinquish the lead, keeping a cool head while under increasing pressure from a resurgent Pinkerton to secure his maiden SR1 Cup victory by six tenths of a second.
On pole for race two, Hunt was in the box seat with a shot of doubling his wins tally. However, lightning starter Nick Zapolski took the initiative in a surprise opening-lap attack, before building a 1.6s advantage over his Demon Tweeks Motorsport-backed rival.
The gap from first to third decreased to just one second after seven tours of the tight and twisty Oulton Park circuit and the fight rolled on to the chequered flag, where Hunt was demoted to sixth after being slapped with a 15-second penalty for exceeding track limits.
Nonetheless, the relegation wasn’t enough to dampen the Motorsport UK Academy Squad driver’s spirits and spoil what was a watershed weekend in his burgeoning career,
“I’m still lost for words and it feels absolutely crazy to have broken my Radical SR1 Cup race wins duck at a British GT Championship event,” said Hunt. “I simply got my head down in qualifying and made sure I stayed cool at the start of race one, knowing I had to get the move for first done early. I came under some pressure in the latter part of the race but did enough to keep the opposition at bay, and it felt incredible to cross the line and secure that first victory.
“Despite receiving a penalty in race two, it has been a fantastic weekend and I’m delighted with the results. The monkey is off my back now and I really feel like we have momentum to carry into the next round on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, which shares quite a few characteristics with Oulton Park. I now know how to win a race, yet there’s still more I can extract from myself as a driver.”