With all three Radical SR1 Cup Championship titles still up for grabs, the seven title protagonists are now having to play the numbers game with just four races remaining this season.
Ahead of this weekend’s penultimate double-header round at Donington Park, two numbers separate title rivals James Pinkerton and Ryan Harper-Ellam in the battle for the overall championship.
The first is five – the number of victories in favour of Harper-Ellam after the last round at Cadwell Park. Heading to the Lincolnshire venue, points leader Pinkerton and Harper-Ellam – who won his race seat for this year by topping last year’s SR1 Cup Shootout contest – had an even share of the race wins across the first six rounds. But did Harper-Ellam’s double win on familiar turf at Cadwell signal a turning of the tide?
That brings us to that second figure, 14 – Pinkerton’s now-trimmed points advantage ahead of this weekend’s double header at Donington Park. With 40 points awarded for a race win, the difference between the two is now so slight that a single slip up will surely be hugely costly.
While the title fight surrounds the top two, the fight for third is also finely poised, and just so happens to involve two closely matched class rivals. Both Will Hunt and Chris Short are in their maiden year of racing the 1340cc 182bhp SR1s, and both are evenly matched in the battle for the Rookie Cup honours. Hunt currently sits third overall and top of the class title chase, but Short is only four points behind in the Rookie race.
“Things are so close between Will and myself, and I’m really loving the competition,” says Short. “I’ve had two podium finishes so far this year – at Oulton Park and Cadwell Park – and that’s really boosted my confidence ahead of the final two rounds.
“I’ve tested at Donington and it’s a wonderful place to handle the SR1 – it’s flat-out all the way down the Craner Curves and there are so many overtaking opportunities. It will undoubtedly be two exciting races. Will’s a very talented driver and has so far had the edge over me in qualifying, but each time I get in the car my confidence grows so I’ve had some great, close battles with him in the races.”
Mark Williams sits fifth overall and is in a tight battle with Julian Lay and Gavin McAlpine. Lay also leads the Fangio Trophy category, which awards drivers who are aged 45 and over. David Tagg and Paul Clark are Lay’s biggest rival for the Fangio honours, and both are tied on points in second place, 28 behind Lay.
This weekend’s grid is likely to swell to 16 cars with a few new additions, including a debut for Dean Warriner, who has previous racing experience in the Lotus UK Cup. Another newcomer is Andy Wilkins, who previously raced in the Renault Clio Cup and has now opted to give rear-wheel drive a go. Simon Anderson also joins as a rookie.
Likely to mix it at the front is another new entry, Shane Stoney. A former Mini Challenge champion, Stoney brings recent experience from the Ginetta GT5 Challenge and will be one to watch.
With just four races remaining this season, the fight for honours in all three classes is still wide open.
SR1 Cup qualifying at Donington Park starts at 11:20 on Saturday, followed by two 20-minute races at 14:40 and 17:45. Live timing is available via www.tsl-timing.com