Will Hunt finished runner-up in Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2021 Radical SR1 Cup at Snetterton (Saturday 3 July).
The Sussex speedster entered the weekend with a 28-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship having taken four wins from the first four races, but his 100 per cent record was broken by title rival James Lay on Radical’s return to Norfolk, and the two chief title combatants are now split by just 18 points.
Rain featured heavily in Saturday’s forecast and Hunt took a cautious approach to SR1 Cup Qualifying, held on a wet but drying track.
The Motorsport UK Team UK Futures driver took time to find his feet, gradually building up speed and confidence on the low-grip surface and, while a mistake on his final flyer cost him a shot at pole position, he still went second fastest overall.
Title challenger Lay had the edge on everyone in the mixed conditions and duly took pole for both Radical SR1 Cup races, but Hunt and Scorpio Motorsport identified improvements in their data traces and onboard footage and had confidence in their long-run performance.
Mercifully, conditions stabilised, and slicks were the tyre of choice for the first SR1 clash of the weekend at Snetterton.
Lay held on to the lead away from the line, but Hunt got a run on him further around the opening lap as the field barrelled along the Bentley Straight towards Nelson, where he caught a damp patch.
Light contact sent Lay skipping across the grass, but Hunt relinquished P1 to avoid a penalty and then lost three further positions in a wayward moment that occurred on the second tour of the 2.99mile East Anglian circuit.
Fifth and detached from the top four, Hunt recorded fastest laps in a bid to recover lost ground, only for a Safety Car to bring him back into play with five minutes left on the clock.
In a determined display, Hunt picked off three rivals and homed in on race leader Lay during a two-lap sprint to the flag, but the victory was just out of reach, and the Sussex-based driver finished where he started in P2.
In the second SR1 Cup contest, Hunt had the better start and got the jump on poleman Lay before Riches corner.
Thereafter, the top two traded purple sectors and gapped third-placed Mackenzie Walker on the now bone dry Snetterton circuit, but Lay stubbornly held on in Hunt’s slipstream and, stronger in slow-speed turns, eventually found a way through into P1 at the Montreal hairpin.
Unperturbed, Hunt latched on to Lay’s rear wing; they were nose-to-tail entering the penultimate lap and the battle raged on to the last, the duelling pair going side-by-side on the charge out of the final corner and crossing the finish line just 0.152s apart.
“It’s a ‘what could have been’ weekend because I missed pole position, despite gathering speed towards the end of qualifying, and I feel I should have won both races,” said Hunt. “It’s easy to say, but I needed just one more lap to get the better of James (Lay) in both races, because my car was set up to come good at the end.
“The results are slightly underwhelming because Scorpio Motorsport did such a great job, and losing my 100 per cent winning record is also a tough pill to swallow. However, I also know I can’t win them all and we achieved the next best thing by finishing second, and we have an opportunity to analyse our performances and come back stronger on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. If I do my best, points will come.”