Shane Stoney secured the 2019 Radical SR1 Cup Championship title in dominant fashion with a Donington double, putting him clear in the title chase ahead of the season finale at Snetterton.
Stoney took his season tally to nine wins from 10 starts at the wheel of his Quattro Motorsport-run SR1, but had renewed competition from both Chris Short and Ross Elliott, who took it in turns to chase the leader to the flag in the bright Derbyshire sunshine.
Arriving at Donington needing to only extend his championship advantage by a handful of points to put the title beyond doubt, Stoney stayed true to form and got the job done early with a controlled drive in race one. He had to survive two safety car periods and a stern challenge from his two rivals in order to bring it home though.
Things were always going to be tight at the start, especially if qualifying was anything to go by. Stoney maintained his perfect pole streak for this year by taking top spot in Saturday’s first timed session, but only pipped the impressive Elliott by a scant 0.037s to do so – marking the smallest pole position margin since the introduction of the Gen 2 SR1 in 2017.
Knowing his rival potentially had the pace to match him, Stoney needed to show a clean pair of heels at the start, and took advantage of an early sort-out behind him. Stoney got a great launch from the rolling start to slot ahead of Elliott into Redgate, and held track position into the Old Hairpin as Elliott was squeezed wide by Chris Short, who assumed second, while Will Hunt also followed him through.
However, the early battles were put on hold when the safety car was summoned to clean up after a tangle further back in the pack that accounted for Julian Lay, Mark Williams and Andy Wilkins, and badly delayed Mackenzie Walker, who dragged his car out of the gravel to continue, albeit well down the order.
Stoney timed his restart perfectly when racing resumed on lap three, scampering into a clear lead as the race was enlivened by the fight for the other podium places. Hunt defended hard from the charging Elliott, but lost his shot at another top-three finish when his throttle cable broke with a few laps to run.
Once released, Elliott attacked Short repeatedly into Redgate, but the Fangio Trophy leader held his own, closing the door each time as the two cars ran within inches of each other.
A late safety car – called to retrieve the stranded car of Gavin McAlpine from the chicane gravel after a spin – was all that stood between Stoney and his maiden sportscar racing title. The caution period left a single-lap sprint to the flag, and Stoney was realistically never going to mess it up. “I can’t believe it!” said the emotional new champion from the podium. “It’s just been a dream season.”
Short just held off Elliott to secure second, and take the Fangio Trophy win, with Elliott registering his second podium appearance in as many rounds in third. Matt Jones, who had been a constant threat to the lead pack, came home fourth ahead of Rookie Cup winner, Sam Ashworth. Walker recovered brilliantly to sixth, ahead of Adarsh Radia and Mark Tranter.
Now officially crowned champion, nothing was going to deny Stoney a second victory of the day, even if he came perilously close to losing out at the race two rolling start. When the lights went out Stoney was swamped by Elliott, Hunt and Short as the top four ran together down the Craner Curves, but Stoney just managed to re-take the racing line at the Old Hairpin to emerge ahead, as Short and Elliott filtered in behind.
A brief safety car to clear Paul Clark’s SR1 from the gravel at the chicane threatened to interrupt Stoney's flow, and Short took full advantage to draft up behind the leader on the restart, but Stoney held firm into Redgate and then never looked back. Elliott’s persistent pressure on second-placed Short eventually paid off when he ran too deep on the brakes into Redgate, allowing Elliott through for second.
Although he took the flag in third, that was enough to hand Short another Fangio Trophy win. And, with Julian Lay suffering a miserable weekend with retirement from both races, Short now holds a commanding class lead heading to the season finale at Snetterton.
Walker took fourth after working his way past Hunt, who felt he had been over-driving all weekend. Ashworth finished sixth overall, and in doing so extended his winning tally in the Rookie Cup to six.
Radia fought to seventh, and second in the Fangio order, ahead of Jones, Tranter and McAlpine, who rounded out the top 10.
Shane Stoney (2019 SR1 Cup champion, winner races one and two): “The title hasn’t sunk in yet… I’m over the moon. I have to say a huge thank you to everybody who’s helped me to this point – the whole team at Quattro Motorsport, Radical for making me feel so welcome, and of course my Dad, Chris, who has put so much into this. Fifteen years ago he was racing and winning in Radicals here and I was watching, so to win the modern equivalent is so special to me. Race one was tough with the safety cars, and I knew Ross would be quick so I had to get away early. After that it was just about staying calm. The start of race two was so close, I saw Ross coming alongside and then Will launched one around the outside and I honestly thought I’d lost it. But it’s just been a perfect weekend. One I’ll remember for a long, long time.”
Chris Short (Second race one, third race two): “Race one was incredibly close. I managed to squeeze past Ross early on but then he was all over me and I had to soak up so much pressure and use every bit of defensive driving I knew! There was a little bit of rubbing, but we were both really respectful. The fight in race two was just as good, but I made a mistake on the brakes into Redgate and it opened the door for Ross, then once he was ahead I just couldn’t catch him. It’s been a great weekend in terms of the Fangio Trophy points, and that’s my priority, so if I can seal that at Snetterton then it’s mission accomplished.”
Ross Elliott (Third race one, second race two): “I loved race one. It was so much fun going wheel-to-wheel with Chris, and we had a few moments into Redgate where we just didn’t know who would come out ahead. It was all very close, but brilliant fun in the sunshine. Another podium is great, but it’s not quite the top step, which has to be my aim before the end of the year. The car felt brilliant in race two and I managed to pressure Chris into an error. It’s a step higher on the podium, and my third in four races, so I’m feeling good ahead of Snetterton in October.”