Polesitter James Lay led the way in the opening laps of the first sprint race of the Donington weekend and all was well until there was rain on the horizon. “It was OK for the first few laps, then it started to spit and I decided to stay out on slicks,” he explained.
With John Macleod in fourth and Chris Preen sixth on the opening lap, it was going well for the RAW squad. Second placed Degnbol pitted for wets, so Macleod and Preen both moved up, before Preen opted to pit too under the safety car.
Lay had been caught and passed by the wet shod Mark Williams before his race ended prematurely. “The rear upright broke as I went into Redgate and that was that,” he said. Macleod was flying and as the track began to dry, he had the lead and Ben Stone was second, with Elliot Goodman on a charge in fifth.
It was desperately close in the closing laps, but Macleod lost out. “Ben got me into Redgate and Jason Rishover followed,” he said. Stone was then under pressure from Rishover. “I took a gamble on slicks, but when it started to dry out I made up places. But a backmarker turned in on me at Coppice and Jason got me. I got him back into the chicane on the last lap, but he got me again on the exit,” said Stone after coming in second.
Macleod just held onto third from Goodman, while Preen was sixth, Chris Myhill seventh, Chris Short eighth and Nicholas Francis 13th. RAW’s Goodman and Myhill were both out after contact before the first corner in race two, which saw Lay leading the train behind the safety car. With Macleod in fourth and Stone fifth and Short sixth it was looking strong for the RAW squad again.
Lay continued to lead the way but had Noah Degnbol and Anthony Ayres closing, before a second safety car brought them all together again. “I had an early gap but after the second safety car I lost grip and Ayres got alongside at Coppice with a lap to go and had a better exit to lead,” said Lay after dropping to third by the end of the lap.
Macleod, Short and Stone had all held station behind fourth placed Rishover, “I just couldn’t get close enough to challenge,” Macleod admitted. Preen was 10th after being caught up in the first corner incident and Francis was 14th. In the final Lay and Degnbol made an early escape but swapped places into the chicane on lap 10, with Preen and Short running nose to tail for third.
Macleod and Goodman had started to close on the third battle too, before both lost out to Zielonka.
With Francis spinning at the chicane, out came the safety car which coincided with the pitstop window. Degnbol and Lay had gone by as the rest pitted. “The board wasn’t out for us,” said Lay, which was to cost both drivers dearly.
Short emerged from the stops as the new leader, heading a RAW 1-2-3 from Preen and Macleod. “I sat behind Chris Preen initially as he defended well, but came out with a clear track. So I looked after my tyres and didn’t push too hard,” said Short after claiming his first win on UK soil. Macleod had closed in second, but his exhaust broke in the final laps. “Then I ran wide at McLeans and Zielonka got me into Redgate on the last lap,” he explained after coming taking third.
Having come out 14th after the stops, Lay claimed a late fifth, but with Stone disqualified, Preen was eighth, with a guesting Stefano Leaney 10th, Myhill 11th and Goodman 12th. Former Radical Champion Ross Allen made his car racing comeback in the SR1 Cup. After taking third in race one, he pitted to retire after one lap in race two. Debutant Katrin Kristensen had retired from her first race, but finished eighth in race two.