Brands Hatch, Kent – Saturday, 8 June 2019: Fangio Trophy charger Julian Lay, and the great British weather, combined to put a dampener on Shane Stoney’s hopes of completing an unbeaten season in this year’s Radical SR1 Cup.
Until now the championship leader had monopolised the podium’s top step, scoring a sweep of wins at both Oulton Park and Cadwell Park. But that run came to an end in a dramatic weather-afflicted first race at Brands Hatch, before Stoney turned the tables in the dry second outing to restore order with a fifth win of the campaign.
The weekend’s opening race was an absolute thriller, with Lay just holding off the charging Stoney in a rain-soaked outing to score his breakthrough SR1 Cup victory.
Torrential rain battered the track just before the start, leading to a variety of different setups up and down the grid as teams raced to change to wet Hankooks.
Starting back in eighth, few would have bet on Lay for the win, but he put in a truly terrific set of opening laps to scythe his way up the order. Running on wet rubber, but with a totally dry setup, Lay found grip where others didn’t and was already inside the podium places by the end of the first tour.
In contrast Stoney was struggling. He’d fitted brand new wets after taking the edges off his qualifying set by running them on a drying circuit. His fresh tyres lacked bite in the tricky conditions at the start, and the Quattro team opted for a “half-wet-half-dry setup, which was worse than both full wet or full dry,” according to Stoney, who visibly struggled for grip in the corners.
Ross Elliott got the best start, running around the outside of both Stoney and Will Hunt into Paddock to snatch the lead having started back on row two. Elliott forged an early advantage, but then got a huge slide on through Clearways at the end of the second lap, and couldn’t catch the car as it spun into the pitwall, damaging his rear wing and putting the early leader out. Dean Warriner was another victim of the conditions, nosing into the pit wall in a similar fashion, putting him out of the podium fight.
Stoney lost time avoiding the spinning Elliott, while Lay had to take to the grass in avoidance, but kept his foot in to rejoin in second. With Stoney still struggling ahead, Lay made his move for the lead into Surtees on lap five, slipping past at the apex. Once ahead, Lay pulled a near-four-second advantage and looked in the clear, until the track gradually began to dry, and Stoney’s tyres began to scrub-in. Stoney hacked into Lay’s lead, reducing it to under a second with just two laps to go. Things looked set for a grandstand finish, but Stoney lost time with an unsuccessful late lunge at Clearways on the final tour and had to settle for his first second place of the year.
Hunt established himself in a clear third place after pulling clear of a great battle for fourth between Fangio Trophy rivals Chris Short and Mark Williams. Short lost time with a half-spin at Graham Hill Bend, but recovered to hassle Williams late on, eventually drafting past when Williams was forced to catch a big wobble as he attempted to get the power down too early out of Graham Hill Bend.
Sam Ashworth celebrated a Rookie Cup victory in his very first car race, having survived the changing conditions to bring his 360 Racing-run car home in a fine sixth place ahead of Matt Jones and Mark Tranter, who recovered from early contact with a spinning Gavin McAlpine to take eighth.
Race one may not have gone to plan, but Stoney showed that he’s still the benchmark for this year with a commanding drive in race two.
The much-expected rain didn’t materialise ahead of the start, meaning the grid lined up on a fully dry track, but with darkening skies overhead.
When the lights went out, Elliott’s patched up car again made a stellar start to run alongside both Hunt and Stoney to make it three-wide into Paddock Hill Bend.
Hunt was the meat in the sandwich, and there was slight contact, but all three cars made it through in one piece. However, the touch delayed Elliott, allowing Warriner the chance to drag ahead up to Druids and annex third.
Things got worse for Elliott when he ended his day in the gravel at Paddock after a clash with Short on lap two, which put both cars out and brought on a safety car period.
Stoney judged the restart perfectly when the race went green again four tours later, getting the power down to pull away from Hunt, who was busy defending second from a determined Warriner, who was keen to make up for his race one accident.
The Track Focused racer hauled Hunt in, and made the move to second late on the brakes into Paddock Hill. That battle allowed Stoney to escape further, giving him a healthy advantage at the flag.
Race one winner Lay had an even bigger task on his hands, starting back in ninth on the grid. But it hardly put him off, as he flew up the order again to snatch fourth place and complete a double victory in the Fangio Trophy.
Jones took fifth, ahead of Williams and McAlpine. The fight for Rookie Cup honours again went the way of impressive debutante Ashworth after a great tussle with Tranter. The two duelled all race, with Ashworth eventually edging past at Druids in the closing stages.
The three race winners – the outright winner (Stoney), Fangio Trophy winner (Lay) and Rookie Cup winner (Ashworth) – will all receive prize driver training sessions with Twenty One Performance, which was established by multiple Radical champion Bradley Smith. Each winner will receive a simulator and driver development session.
Julian Lay (winner race one, fourth race two. Double Fangio Trophy winner): “What a great weekend! Race one was my first time on the podium at all, and to have it come as a win is just amazing! I’m always quite comfortable in the wet and was hoping for rain as we were lining up. But I didn’t expect a start like that, before I knew it I was third and then Ross went off in front of Shane and I and it gave me my chance. I started to struggle a bit at the end and could see Shane’s car getting bigger in my mirrors, but I just had to stay calm and hold on. Race two was less dramatic, but I still managed to make up a lot of places on the first lap. This helps no end in the Fangio Trophy points.”
Shane Stoney (Second race one, winner race two): “It’s been a tricky weekend but it was good to finish it off with a win. I just had no grip in race one because scrubbing-in new wet tyres on a green flag lap isn’t ideal. I just had to try and stay with Julian in the early stages, but fair play to him he drove brilliantly. The car also wasn’t balanced very well, I had some grip at the front and nothing at the rear, so every time I went for the power I was going sideways. Race two was much more straightforward. It got close at the start, but I knew I could get the gap after the safety car if I timed it right. But it’s clear the rest of the year won’t be easy.”
Sam Ashworth (Rookie Cup winner races one and two): “I’m absolutely over the moon with this weekend. I never thought I’d come here and finish anywhere but last, so two class wins is a dream. Race one was tough in the rain, as I only drove the car for the first time in the wet on the Friday test. Race two was brilliant with the fight with Mark. After I got past him he was on my tail all the way. If I can keep this pace up for my other rounds at Snetterton and Donington I’ll be very happy. The SR1 is a fantastic car to learn in. It’s forgiving enough and you can learn a huge amount in a very short time. I’m loving it.”