James Pinkerton enjoyed a stellar start to this year’s Radical SR1 Cup campaign by celebrating twin wins at Oulton Park, as the re-launched single-make series supported the British GT Championship for the first time.
Pinkerton converted two second-place starts into a brace of race victories after capitalising on start-line drama for chief rival Ryan Harper-Ellam in both outings in Cheshire.
SR1 Cup Shootout winner Harper-Ellam was a star of the weekend’s early running, securing twin pole positions. But he was let down by errors when the lights went out on both occasions.
In race one Harper-Ellam got away well initially, but too many revs both off the line and on the exit of Old Hall corner ultimately led to too much strain on his car’s chain and he lost drive on the opening lap.
With Harper-Ellam out, Pinkerton pounced around the outside of Old Hall before scurrying off into a comfortable lead. Behind him, newcomer Will Hunt annexed second, and even survived a high-speed spin down Cascades to hold the spot to the flag. The result also gave him the Rookie Cup honours.
Chris Short completed the podium after a solid drive, ahead of Mark Williams and Gavin McAlpine.
The fight for the Fangio Trophy was a close affair, with David Tagg fighting through into the lead at mid-distance until an off at Shell Oils led to rear wing damage that dumped him down the order. That left Paul Clark to lead Peter Devlin home.
Race two was a thriller, enlivened by a stunning comeback drive from Harper-Ellam.
His second-fastest time from qualifying was good enough for his second pole, but once again a difficult start set him back. Harper-Ellam used too few revs when the lights went out and stalled, immediately handing Pinkerton the lead.
Undeterred, Harper-Ellam reset his Gen 2 SR1 and charged back through the order. By lap two he had chased down second-placed Hunt before pulling a stunning pass around the outside of Cascades corner to slip back into second.
Pinkerton’s lead initially looked comfortable, until light rain began to fall, making the grip levels unpredictable. The lead margin wavered as the top two battled through traffic, until Harper-Ellam latched on to the rear of Pinkerton’s Gen 1 SR1 entering the final lap. With just a few lengths between them, Harper-Ellam attempted to line up a last-corner lunge, but fell just short.
Hunt completed his weekend with a second rostrum finish, ahead of Short, Williams and McAlpine.
Devlin went one better to lift the Fangio Trophy, emerging on top from a tight battle with Tagg. Clark had led before enduring an off that cost him a second Fangio success.
James Pinkerton (Winner race one & two): “It’s been pretty much the perfect weekend. Ryan showed great pace in qualifying so I knew I’d have a fight on my hands. It was a shame he went out of race one early but after he did I couldn’t afford to relax because I could see Will pushing in my mirrors. Race two was really hard work. Ryan didn’t give me a moment’s peace once he got behind me and I had to work hard to defend, especially thinking about my line through the final corner. Hopefully I can carry this momentum into the rest of the season.”
Ryan Harper-Ellam (DNF race one, second race two): “The podium in race two brought some shine back to this weekend after a really disappointing first outing. It was my fault as I was just too aggressive on the throttle and it took its toll on the drivetrain. For race two I went the other way and was too conservative, but from then on it was a frantic dash to get the car restarted and get back on it. I went for every gap and for a minute I thought I could get James, but ultimately ran out of time. I’ve learned a lot from my first weekend, so it’s still very promising for the rest of the season.”
Will Hunt (Second race one, third race two): “I have to be happy with the weekend and two podiums. It’s my first race weekend ever and to go away with solid points is a brilliant way to start. In truth I knew both James and Ryan had the legs on me this weekend, but to be up there fighting with them gives me real confidence for the year ahead.”
Chris Short (Third race one, fourth race two): “To have a podium in my first race is unbelievable, I’m really over the moon. I don’t even know what my lap times were, but I’ve had a lot of family here cheering me on and it was a great feeling. I’d like more of the same over this course of the season.”
For full race results visit www.tsl-timing.com