Two drivers come into this weekend’s Radical SR1 Cup Championship decider at Brands Hatch, each with a very different approach.
After 10 close-fought races, both James Pinkerton and Ryan Harper-Ellam come to Kent with a chance to snatch the title, and for points leader Pinkerton that could become a reality in the first of this weekend's races.
Pinkerton and Harper-Ellam have been inseparable all season, and have split the lion’s share of the race wins between them– Pinkerton’s three to Harper-Ellam’s six. However, two non-finishes for Harper-Ellam – thanks to a broken drive-chain at Oulton Park and radiator damage after an unfortunate tangle with his title rival at Donington last time out – mean Pinkerton holds a solid 43-point lead with just two races remaining.
While there are still 84 points to play for, Pinkerton can seal the crown by outscoring his rival in the opening race.
“I’ve worked out that a podium in either race will clinch it for me, so I’m trying to be more relaxed about the season finale because I think the majority of the hard work has been done,” says Pinkerton. “I tend to go faster when I’m relaxed, because I do tend to feel the pressure in race situations.
“Originally, I wanted to be full attack all weekend, but a big part of me thinks I’d be mad if I threw it away with a mistake, so it will be an odd weekend . However, qualifying will be important, as I’m desperate to end Ryan’s unbroken run of pole positions this year, so I’ll definitely be pushing hard to do that.”
Harper-Ellam, in contrast, must be in full attack mode. He says: “I kept the championship alive with that win last time out at Donington, so the pressure was on even then. Brands is going to be a tough one. It’ll be a relief to get back into the car. I’ve tried to relax over the break and get some training in, but I’ll have to be all-out attack at Brands. It’s almost out of my hands because James has such a lead in the points, so I just have to turn up and do what I do every weekend, which is aim for race wins and see what happens.”
He may be adrift of the top two in the standings, but third-placed Will Hunt can seal the Rookie Cup title with a similarly strong performance. Hunt leads Chris Short (fourth overall) by 31 points after a close season-long scrap, although a DNF for Short after spinning out of a tricky, wet Donington round has proven the difference so far.
Mark Williams runs fifth overall after a consistent season, while the only other driver to have risen to the top step of the podium, Patrick Lay, has yet to confirm his return to the grid after his Donington one-off. He hands the car he won with back to his father Julian (sixth overall).
Don’t expect the fight at the front to be exclusively for two drivers. Mini and Ginetta star Shane Stoney is new to the series and getting faster with each outing.
The honours in the Fangio Trophy – for drivers aged over 45 – will go to either David Tagg or Paul Clark, who are separated by just nine points.
The season finale also brings a host of new names to the grid. Motor Sport magazine photographer Lyndon McNeil will make his dream racing debut ahead of a series of features, while experienced SR1 driver Andy Chittenden returns for a second outing of the year. Lotus racers Dean Warriner and Mackenzie Walker also join to highlight the rising interest ahead of 2019.
The Radical SR1 Cup field of 2018 roars into action for the final time this year on Saturday 10th November, with qualifying at 10:20 ahead of two 20-minute races at 12:40 and 15:00. Follow the official Radical social media channels for live updates. Live timing is available at www.tsl-timing.com and race highlights will be uploaded to the Radical Sportscars YouTube channel.