Champion Shane Stoney may have stolen the show in terms of race wins during the Radical SR1 Cup finale at Snetterton, but the battles for the championship's class titles both went to the wire, with both races producing tight and clean racing.
Mark Tranter did enough to put the Rookie Cup crown beyond any doubt in race one, while an otherwise difficult weekend for Chris Short couldn’t deny him the Fangio Trophy title in a tense finale.
But Stoney shone through again – finishing the SR1 Cup season as he started it, with two stellar performances securing another brace of victories as the 2019 champion more than proved his title credentials.
Qualifying was a tricky proposition, with heavy overnight rain soaking the track, but the emerging sun meant the field of SR1s headed out onto a damp-but-drying track. It led to a mixture of setups, with some softening off their car’s suspension to find better grip, and some gambling on a dry line appearing.
Stoney set the pace from the start of the session to grab both poles ahead of Matt Jones – a star performer in the wet. That was also key as Jones had to keep the pressure on Short, who could only manage eighth fastest, to keep the Fangio fight alive.
Stoney’s plan was to bolt clear at the start of the first outing, but things didn’t quite go to plan thanks to a terrific getaway by Ross Elliott from the second row. The grid formed up on a track that was still greasy off-line, meaning whoever got their nose in front through turn one stood a good chance of claiming the dry line. Stoney didn’t get the power down as he’d have liked when the lights went out, allowing the fast-starting Elliott to vault past Jones and challenge Stoney into Riches.
Elliott did get his nose in front but, such has been Stoney’s form this year, the champion had an answer and pulled off a superb move by running around the wet outside line of the Wilson hairpin to claim the inside, and the lead, into Palmer.
It was a breathless few corners and set the tone for what would be a tightly fought race as Elliott held off constant pressure from the chasing Will Hunt in third, and five cars contested the battle to be fourth.
Stoney finally gained some clean air with a strong restart following a brief safety car to clear Paul Clark’s stranded SR1 after a spin. With Stoney scampering clear, Elliott and Hunt engaged in their own private fight for the other podium places, but by far the best scrap was the one for fourth.
Jones held sway early on ahead of Dean Warriner, Chris Short and the recovering James Pinkerton – the 2018 SR1 champion being forced to fight back from ninth on the grid after taking too-dry an approach to his car’s setup in qualifying.
Pinkerton repeatedly attacked Short, as the Fangio Trophy leader in-turn piled the pressure on Warriner. Things came to a head when Short out-braked himself into Wilson, clipping the rear of Warriner and sending him sideways. Warriner held the slide, but Pinkerton wasted no time in diving past the compromised Short for sixth, and then pulled off an inspired pass around the outside of Warriner into Brundle a few tours later to grab fifth.
Up front, Stoney was again imperious, as Elliott just held off Hunt, who celebrated his first podium appearance since Brands Hatch back in June. Jones was fourth to win the Fangio Trophy class, ensuring that title battle rolled into the season finale.
Mark Tranter wrapped up the Rookie Cup spoils with a 10th place finish.
Stoney went into the season finale chasing an 11th win from 12 races this year – the mixed conditions outing at Brands Hatch lost to Julian Lay being the sole stain on his near-perfect record – but once again his start let him down.
When the lights went out Stoney admitted to “being caught napping” as Elliott again proved the man on the move, this time sweeping past into Riches to firmly grab the lead. The pack behind was scattered when Jones was knocked sideways in the pack, delaying both Lay and Hunt, and taking the only man who could deny Short the Fangio spoils out of the running.
After a brief safety car to clear Jones’ car, Stoney sized up Elliott into Riches but made the decisive move for the lead into Wilson a corner later. He then bolted clear for another win as the best of the action broke out in his wake.
Dean Warriner had also made a superb start to slot into third, and soon began to attack Elliott for second. Elliott’s defending in-turn allowed Pinkerton to close in after he’d put in a superb opening tour to climb from ninth to fourth following some tweaks to his car’s settings. Pinkerton slipped past Warriner into Wilson and then replicated his “ballsy” move around the outside into the Brundle complex to steal second from Elliott. Warriner then capitalised on a sideways moment for Elliott through Coram to secure the final podium spot.
Mackenzie Walker was fifth ahead of first-time Fangio Trophy winner Mark Williams.
There was yet more drama to come, too, with Short spinning at the exit of Williams corner but recovering to finish seventh and secure second in the overall standings, and the Fangio Trophy class title.
The fight for third in the championship went right to the last lap, with Hunt needing to battle back from 17th after being caught in the turn-one melee. He made great progress back up to eighth, which would have secured him a seasonal podium by a point from Elliott, but his fuel pump cut out on the final tour to deny him in the unluckiest of circumstances.
The high-speed thrills and tight competition have epitomised the SR1 Cup this season, with drivers exchanging handshakes as the sun set on another season.
Shane Stoney (winner races one and two) “It’s just been an unbelievable year. There’s been no secret to it – doing the final few rounds of last year gave me a bit of a head start for this season and the Quattro Motorsport crew worked so hard to get the car working as I like. It’s all just come together through hard work. I never expected to win so many races, and those final few laps of race two were quite bitter-sweet as I’m looking to move up the ladder next year, so they were probably my final laps in this SR1. It’s been such a phenomenal car and I’d recommend anybody to try one.”
James Pinkerton (fifth race one, second race two) “It’s probably been my best weekend ever in an SR1, even though I didn’t win! I went too extreme on the setup in qualifying, putting max camber on and changing tyres pressures and it didn’t work, but it set me up for two fighting drives and a lot of overtaking, which was so enjoyable. Race two was superb and I just took every chance I got. This was pretty much a test ahead of next year, so the plan is to come back and go for a second title.”
Chris Short (Fangio Trophy champion) “It’s been a long season, and really great fun. Today didn’t really go my way with the tricky qualifying, but race one was superb fun fighting in the pack. Race two was quite stressful actually, being on the brink of the Fangio title and then I spun at Williams just getting on the throttle too early, but managed to get back on quickly enough. I knew I just had to bring it home and I’m overjoyed to take the championship, and be second overall. It’s just amazing.”
Mark Tranter (Rookie Cup champion) “I’m over the moon to win the Rookie Cup, it was my aim from the start of the year and to get it done in race one really took the pressure off and let me enjoy race two and just try a few different things with the car to bring the lap times down. It’s been a brilliant season, and one I won't forget for a long, long time.”