Will Hunt column: Over-driving led to mistakes - now I take a different approach
Now is the time to reflect on what has been a watershed year in my motor racing career. It has certainly been a strange year for us all, and like the rest of you, I’m really looking forward to the day we return to some form of normality.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 outbreak hit the motorsport industry hard, but while there are thousands of people who rely on it to make a living, putting the brakes on all racing activity to keep people safe was the right thing to do.
For racing drivers, the off-season is a very frustrating time, but last winter was slightly different because I stepped up my off-track efforts and formed some exciting new partnerships that have already had a profound effect on my progression.
Firstly, I engaged in a tailored fitness programme, devised by Performance Elite’s expert Sports Conditioning Coach Tom Archer to radically enhance my physical strength and mental resilience.
My performance markers have been based on the tests and parameters set by car manufacturers when choosing candidates for their young driver programmes, as my short-to-medium term goal is to apply for schemes like the McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme or the Porsche Young Driver Development Programme.
The gallons of blood, sweat and tears ensured I was primed and ready for the 2020 Radical SR1 Cup, absolutely determined to end the season at the top of the standings by securing every pole position and winning every race.
However, I inadvertently placed myself under extreme pressure, and that hurt me when July came around and the racing got underway at Snetterton, because I ended up over-driving and making some avoidable mistakes.
I underachieved and was deeply disappointed, so I called upon Tom and my professional driver coach Charlie Hollings for guidance, and I also had the support of British motor racing’s governing body, Motorsport UK, having been selected for its prestigious Academy Squad in February.
A world-class development programme consisting of several specialist workshops, educational sessions and money-can’t-buy events and experiences, the academy is designed to help young drivers progress and develop, and it helped me see that I had let the pressure get to me.
I moved forward with the same positive mental attitude but kept my expectations in check for the SR1 Cup’s return to Oulton Park in August, and what do you know, I qualified on pole position and achieved a maiden victory under the gaze of the high-profile British GT drivers, teams and automotive manufacturers.
My preparation, attitude and driving style were at a race-winning level for the first time in my career and I continued on an upward trajectory in the final two rounds of the season at Brands Hatch and Donington Park, where I doubled my victory tally and achieved a brace of podiums to finish third in the championship.
I had never raced on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit and always considered Donington Park to be my bogey track, so the results are a true reflection of how far I’ve come.
My conversion rate indicates that I was capable of challenging for the 2020 SR1 Cup title, and not only does it shine a light on the importance of pre-season preparation, I know I can’t trip up or make mistakes because Champions like James Pinkerton will always be there to capitalise.
Overall, 2020 has been fantastic. Compared to previous years, I’ve remained positive, my approach is far more precise, and I feel so much more complete. There are still a few chinks in my armour, but I’m looking forward to applying all of my new skills and knowledge from the outset of 2021, to mount a real title challenge.
My performances have already opened a few doors, though, as I got my first taste of a GT car during an exclusive Ginetta GT Academy test day at Snetterton in September.
I got to grips with the Ginetta really quickly and the experience confirmed that GT racing is in fact the right direction for my career, but it’s essential I now create partnerships and generate sponsorship if I’m to move forward.
Motorsport is a unique and exciting platform, and that shows whenever I talk to entrepreneurs, who are always fascinated by my racing and the opportunities surrounding it.
Demon Tweeks Motorsport and Abruzzi Racewear have already seen the potential, but I continue to make new connections with forward-thinking business leaders, showing them that I understand what companies need, how to represent them and deliver a high return on investment.
It promises to be a busy winter and I’m looking forward to sharing more exciting developments with you in the coming weeks and months, starting with an exclusive test day with another high-profile sportscar manufacturer.
Will Hunt has links to Hurstpierpoint and Brighton. You can read his exclusive columns in the Sussex Express and Mid Sussex Times throughout the year