Will Hunt column: The world has changed but it's so good to be back on the track

The world has changed a lot since writing my last column in March, writes Sussex motor-racer Will Hunt.

Will Hunt in action / Picture: Oliver Read
Will Hunt in action / Picture: Oliver Read

Back then we were pre-Covid-19 lockdown and the 2020 motorsport season was on course to start on time.

There was less than a month until lights out at Oulton Park, where the Radical SR1 Cup was due to run in support of the British GT Championship, and my Scorpio Motorsport team and I were busy optimising our performance, strength and reliability.

I had intensified my training with Performance Elite and professional sports conditioning coach Tom Archer in a bid to reach peak physical fitness and maximise my chances of winning the SR1 Cup title, but then the coronavirus arrived on UK shores and the country plunged into an unprecedented period of self-isolation and social distancing.

Will Hunt prepares / Picture: Oliver Read

The government’s lockdown measures decimated the motorsport calendar, but while that’s disappointing, events like the pandemic give a great sense of perspective and place your thoughts with all those affected by the virus, as well as the incredibly brave and selfless health professionals working within the NHS and our social care system.

In fact, that British motor racing’s governing body, Motorsport UK, and Radical Sportscars were so quick and decisive when postponing race events to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing was also very impressive.

In reality, lockdown was a blessing and a curse for young racers like me, as it not only provided more time to prepare, but also to overthink.

I used my downtime well and lived a fairly balanced lifestyle, but our decision to not do any pre-season testing before circuits closed their doors may have, with hindsight, hurt us once racing finally got under way earlier this month.

Will Hunt is glad to be back in the car / Picture: Oliver Read

Ultimately, eight months out of the car is a long time, but I was so confident in my preparations I went into the SR1 Cup curtain-raiser at Snetterton with clear, unambiguous intentions to secure pole position and win both races.

I inadvertently placed myself under immense pressure and was disappointed to qualify mid-pack, finish a scrappy first race in fifth and then spin out of the second rain-affected race, especially as I knew I had the measure of all my opponents on the wet Snetterton ‘200’ circuit.

We were unlucky in many ways, but I also made some silly mistakes by overdriving, and it was while dissecting the weekend with my personal driver coach Charlie Hollings and then with my Motorsport UK mentor that I realised I had let the pressure get to me.

Pre-season testing would have given me more time to get reacquainted with the car before the first race.

But I’m now also clear on the need to temper my determination to win everything from here on in.

I’ll retain a positive mental attitude for the Radical SR1 Cup’s return to Oulton Park on August 8, but I’ll keep my expectations in check, forget about the championship and simply focus on driving to the best of my ability week-in-week-out. Results should follow.

The Oulton Park round stands as my personal highlight of the 2020 season; it’s the circuit I enjoy most and I always seem to perform well there, but it’s also a mouth-watering opportunity for me to step out onto the British GT stage and show many of the biggest and best racing teams and automotive manufacturers what I’m made of.