Oulton Park, Cheshire, UK – Saturday 20 April 2019: Shane Stoney made the perfect start in his bid for this year’s Radical SR1 Cup title by securing a clean sweep of two wins, fastest laps and pole position during the season opener at Oulton Park. But even he doesn’t expect that sort of domination to become the norm.
It wasn’t as if Stoney wasn’t challenged across the course of the weekend. Reigning SR1 Cup champion James Pinkerton returned at late notice and kick-started the defence of his crown with a brace of second places, despite having not driven the car for six months.
Stoney was perhaps the favourite coming into the weekend. He’d become a podium finisher in the final round of last season at Brands Hatch, and worked hard on his driving technique over the winter to get acclimatised to the 182bhp SR1.
Stoney showed the net result of his hard work on Saturday morning, when he scorched to his maiden pole position, ahead of Pinkerton and Short. When the lights went out for the opening race of the campaign, Stoney got enough power down to stave off the attentions of Pinkerton into Old Hall and establish a lead he would never lose.
With Pinkerton reacclimatising with every mile, Stoney took full advantage to seal the win, as a train developed for the other steps of the podium. Pinkerton had enough in-hand to take a secure second, but third was less clear.
Short led the chase ahead of newcomer Nick Zapolski, the returning Ross Elliott, Julian Lay and 2018 Rookie Cup champion Will Hunt. The order was shuffled when Zapolski was forced to retire after developing a fluid leak and Elliott suffered a spin at Hislops. That left Short secure in the final podium place, which also landed him the Fangio Trophy honours. Lay came home fourth, ahead of Hunt, Matt Jones and the recovering Elliott. Mark Williams took eighth ahead of Andy Wilkins and Dean Warriner. Mark Tranter won the battle for the Rookie Cup honours in 11th place.
Things were shaping up nicely for Stoney ahead of race two, with his Quattro Motorsport car sat on pole and Pinkerton back in fourth by dint of his second-fastest qualifying lap not being as rapid as his first.
But things went awry at the rolling start when Stoney got too few revs and found himself with the charging Pinkerton to one side into Old Hall and Will Hunt challenging on the opposite flank.
Stoney kept his head and held a wider line through the first turn to emerge ahead of Pinkerton, as Hunt was shuffled back to fourth behind Short. Stoney looked to have things under control, but when Andy Wilkins went off at the Druids Hairpin, the safety car was called and Stoney’s lead was gone.
The cleanup was swift, but left time only for a two-minute sprint to the flag. Stoney held on ahead of Pinkerton, but there was drama behind. Hunt was crawling over the back of Short for the final podium place, but got crossed up entering the Hislops chicane and was forced to take to the runoff, losing a place to Zapolski. But Hunt returned determined and pressured Zapolski heading on to the final lap, eventually benefiting when Zapolski momentarily slowed with an issue and dropped back to sixth behind Elliott. Lay was seventh ahead of Williams, Warriner and Gavin McAlpine. Tranter again took the Rookie Cup win in 12th.
Up front, Short followed Pinkerton home to complete the podium, but nobody could touch Stoney on a sunny weekend in Chester.
Shane Stoney (winner races one and two): “It’s been a perfect weekend for me. The car has been on rails and both races have gone to plan. To be fair, I love it around here. We do most of our testing around here and it’s one of my favourite tracks, so I wouldn’t expect this type of day very often this year. It’s Cadwell Park next and I haven’t been there for about eight years, so that will be a wake-up call. But for now, this is a great start to the championship.”
James Pinkerton (Second races one and two): “Shane just had that bit extra on us this weekend. But there’s definitely more to come. We at Avidity Motorsport can look at the setup and there’s plenty to come from me, as I was probably a bit rusty today. We changed the car between races one and two to try and find a bit more rear-end stability, but we probably went a little too far with that and it held us back with some understeer. But I’d forgotten how good the SR1 feels to race. I’d love to keep going and try to retain the title.”
Chris Short (Third races one and two): “What a brilliant weekend. This tops my racing highlight from 2018, which was finishing on the podium here once! It’s really exceeded my expectations. I started P2 in the last race but James got a lightning start and was past me before I knew it. But I regrouped and I’m delighted I defended third. Perhaps I can reassess my targets for this year and I definitely want to be closer to James at the next round and then see where that takes me.”
Full timing and results available via www.tsl-timing.com
The next round of the Radical SR1 Cup takes place at Cadwell Park on 18 May.