Sussex speedster Hunt: I'm ready for a Radical racing season
Usually, you treat each new racing season like a brand-new chapter, but for so many reasons this year feels more like a continuation of the last, writes Sussex ace Will Hunt.
Off the track, my work with strength and conditioning coach Tom Archer is moving at pace, and while my weight is down and I have the stamina to handle a Radical SR1, our primary objective is to be ready for the next stage of my career when I may be required to hustle a physically demanding GT car around a racetrack for an hour or more.
Tom is happy with where I stand, and my performance in official Radical Sportscars testing at Snetterton at the end of March was a true test of endurance that validated the effectiveness of my fitness programme to date.
It was an open pit lane so, with unrestricted access to the circuit and a run-plan made up of consecutive 25-minute stints, I spent most of the day in the car, only pausing for an hour at lunch.
My task was to drive flat out and produce consistent lap times for as long as possible, to collect data that would enable my team, Scorpio Motorsport, to understand how the car evolves over a race-distance with different configurations.
I started by dusting off the cobwebs and throwing the car into a few corners to get a feel for it, before getting down to the real business of honing setups and driving techniques, with guidance from ex-Formula Renault champion Kieran Clark.
A notable development for 2021 is that Scorpio Motorsport is operating three cars in the Radical SR1 Cup, and testing showed me that in previous seasons we’ve been competing with one hand tied behind our back as a single-car outfit.
Dividing the workload between three drivers enabled us to experiment with a broader range of setups and collect far more meaningful data than ever before, and that ultimately translated to faster lap times.
A few set-up changes helped me squeeze more pace from the car at Snetterton, a circuit where I’ve had my fair share of misfortune and under-performed, and Kieran’s input gave me a deep understanding of the ways in which I myself can find further improvements.
Immediately after the test, I called my personal trainer Tom to explain how I felt in and out of the car so we could identify my weaknesses and adjust my training schedule accordingly.
Happily, my body stood up well to the forces and it was only during the last hour of the day that my neck started crying out through the fast, long-duration corners, dictating how many push laps I did during each run.
Even the post-testing aches and stiffness were relatively mild, and I came away from Snetterton in good shape, both physically and mentally.
I recorded personal best lap times, but detailed analysis of my onboard footage and data traces proved what I felt on Tuesday evening, that there’s more to come.
If I thought I had extracted every ounce of performance from myself and the car, I would be a little concerned about our prospects for the new season, so it’s comforting and encouraging to know there are more gains to be made, even if they are marginal.
On the whole, I feel better than at any stage of my career and my self-belief was boosted by the news that British motor racing’s governing body, Motorsport UK, has retained me for its brand-new Team Futures UK initiative.
I was first chosen for the Motorsport UK Academy ‘squad’ in February 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic thwarted all attempts to deliver the planned programme of specialist workshops, educational sessions and bespoke events.
Nevertheless, remote driver coaching from Motorsport UK Academy mentor James Wozencroft had a profound effect on my mental approach to racing and was
instrumental in the breakthrough victories I achieved at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch.
I’ve benefited from James’ objective opinions and advice, he has at times helped me answer some very difficult and uncomfortable questions, and he even tamed my ego, which almost gave me a sense of entitlement over race wins, placing me under a great deal of pressure.
Ultimately, Motorsport UK has shown me there’s a fine line between ego and confidence, and that I perform at my best whenever I’ve gone into a race with a controlled self-belief.
It worked for me in 2020 so I’ll apply the same formula when the 2021 Radical SR1 Cup gets under way at Snetterton later this month (April 24).
The truth is, quite a few drivers emerged as potential title threats in official testing, and that gives us at Scorpio Motorsport even more impetus to be at the top of our game because we know we’re a match for anyone when we put everything together.