Dominant Stoney inches closer to Radical SR1 Cup crown

Dominant Stoney inches closer to Radical SR1 Cup crown

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Snetterton, Norfolk, Saturday, July 27: Shane Stoney leaves Snetterton with one hand firmly on this year’s Radical SR1 Cup trophy after an imperious double victory at the Norfolk circuit today.

The Yorkshireman picked up where he left off after the summer break, taking his win tally to seven from eight this year after two accomplished performances aboard his Quattro Motorsport-run SR1. On a weekend where tricky, changeable conditions could easily derail any championship leader, Stoney made no mistakes to register a maximum points score from the two rounds.

Stoney’s first win looked commanding on paper, but his margin was actually rather fortuitous in nature as he was left unchallenged following the early retirement of his prime rival, Will Hunt.

With heavy rain blighting qualifying on Saturday morning, Stoney secured a double pole with his only two flying laps before the session was neutralised by a safety car and eventually red-flagged, preventing any further improvements. That was bad news for Hunt, who was on a vastly improved lap – fastest overall in sector one – right before the red flags flew. It meant Hunt would start back in fourth… Not that it held him back for long.

With the rain abating shortly before the race start, the teams were faced with a choice on tyre strategy. Wet Hankooks would be ideal for the start, but if a drying line appeared, full-dry rubber would be the way to go.

Both Stoney and Hunt started on wet tyres and Hunt got a flying start to run around the outside of Dean Warriner, Ross Elliott and Matt Jones to slot into second behind Stoney through Riches. From then on he zeroed in on the championship leader, showing his nose into Brundle before slipstreaming Stoney at the end of lap one. But, what looked likely to be a great battle was ended far too early when Hunt’s car cut out on lap two with suspected overheating problems.

While that left Stoney well clear up front, there was still plenty to enjoy about the tense fight for the other podium places. Warriner gambled on dry tyres, and struggled for pace at the start, slipping back to fourth. But he dived past Ross Elliott at Agostini on lap three to inherit second following Hunt’s departure. From then on he began to carve time out of Stoney’s lead, before a brief rotation at Nelson set him back again. Regardless, he did more than enough to secure his second podium of the year, and second in as many rounds.

That wasn’t the end of the action for Elliott either. Having briefly lost out to Mackenzie Walker, Elliott fought back to make a brave pass on the brakes work into Riches on lap six after getting a strong tow out of Murrays.

Once ahead, Elliott held on for his first podium of the year as a five-car train developed, with Fangio Trophy runners Matt Jones and Julian Lay, Rookie Cup racer Sam Ashworth and Chris Short all pursuing Walker for fourth. Ultimately Walker held firm, despite a last-lap challenge from Jones that fell just 0.2sec shy. Lay was sixth ahead of Ashworth, who scored his third Rookie win in as many races.

Short’s impressive battle back from 14th on the grid after his troubled qualifying was hindered by a five-second track-limits penalty, which dropped him to ninth in the result, just behind newcomer Lee Collins. Mark Williams rounded out the top 10.

If there was an air of fortune around his first win, Stoney’s second was crushingly straightforward. After getting a great launch at the rolling start, he proceeded to pull clear at a rate of over two seconds per lap as those behind him squabbled in increasingly unpredictable conditions.

The race may have started on a dry track, but no sooner had the lights gone out than light rain began to fall, which intensified over the final few laps leading to some unpredictable shuffles in the order.

Hunt again got a great start, darting inside Warriner at Riches to run second during the opening exchanges. But, with his car stiffly sprung in the hope of full-dry conditions, the lessening grip meant he slid his way backwards into the fight.

Soon Hunt, Warriner, Adarsh Radia, Jones and the recovering Short were all contesting the place, switching positions between them each lap. Warriner was first to depose Hunt, but then lost out after locking up and running across the grass at Brundle. Hunt and Radia’s battle delayed the two of them and Short opportunistically snuck past both into Agostini to cement his best-ever SR1 result in second after a superb drive from 11th on the grid.

Warriner recovered well to net third, just ahead of Jones as Hunt crossed the line in fifth, a whisker ahead of the impressive Mark Williams. Elliott was seventh ahead of Lee Collins and Radia, while Julian Lay rounded out the top 10.

The results mean that Stoney could wrap up the title during the next round at Donington Park in September.

Driver quotes:

Shane Stoney (winner races one and two): “It’s been a great weekend, no doubt, but I don’t think my work is already done in the championship. The guys behind me are getting faster with each race. My plan this year was to get an early points gap, and I’ve done that, but I’m not out of sight and there’s still four races to go. Race one here was tricky. I started on wet tyres and really had to nurse them when it dried out – I was weaving about all over the place to find puddles! It was a shame that Will had his issue as I was gearing up for a real fight in that one. Race two started dry, but we were fully expecting rain so I pushed like mad at the start to get a gap, and fortunately it all went to plan for me from there.”

Dean Warriner (second race one, third race two): “I’ve really enjoyed this weekend and had some fantastic racing. After my second place at Brands Hatch I was full of confidence coming here and I think that’s showed in the results. The car felt fantastic all weekend. I could have had second in that last one too, but I locked all four wheels under braking for Brundle and lost a load of ground. But it’s still been a brilliant two races.”

Sam Ashworth (Rookie Cup winner races one and two): “If you’d have told me before my first SR1 round that I’d win the Rookie Cup four times in a row I’d have never believed you. When I told some of my friends that I was going straight into SR1s they all expected it to be hard work for me, but I’ve had an absolute blast so far and I’m loving it. It’s nice to prove a few doubters wrong, and hopefully I can keep this form going in the last few rounds.”