HILLS JUMPS BACK INTO SUPERCUP TITLE RACE WITH DONINGTON BRACE
After a tricky recent couple of meetings, Aidan Hills produced arguably his best race weekend performance to date in the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup as he picked up two victories at the season's first visit to Donington Park to reignite his championship chances.
As they had at Anglesey, the SuperCup drivers gained a boost to their numbers on the grid with the addition of the MX-5 Super Series runners to the field as they p
repared to contest their own race. The grid was set with the SuperCup drivers starting first with a delayed start for the Super Series drivers, to allow both sets of competitors the chance to compete amongst themselves without too much disruption.
As for the qualifying results, Jack Harding took another valuable pole position for the first race with double defending champion and points leader Luke Herbert once again ready to line up alongside him. Aidan Hills and Patrick Fletcher made up the second row ahead of Will Stephenson and Jo Marshall, the latter making his first SuperCup start after being a regular Super Series front runner and race winner. Patrick Fletcher, Jack Sycamore, Nick Rutter and David Henderson completed the top 10.
Harding led the opening three laps from Herbert and Hills, but Lap 4 was when the order changed when Hills moved up into the lead with Harding still giving chase. Herbert meanwhile had been shuffled down to 5th place behind Fletcher and Marshall with work to do to regain a podium spot. It didn't take him long as he quickly repassed both to get back to 3rd on the next lap and immediately on to the tail of the top two once again. Despite the best attempts of both Harding and Herbert to steal the lead away, there was nothing either of them could do to usurp Hills, who resisted the pressure and reeled off the remaining laps to take victory in Race 1. With the usual suspects joining him on the podium, best of the rest in 4th place went to Patrick Fletcher with Jack Sycamore completing the top 5, with the remainder of the top 10 filled out by Jo Marshall, David Henderson, Christopher Richardson, Garry Townsend and former OSS racer Paul Myers completing the top 10.
The second race saw a grid much similar to that of Race 1 thanks to the second-fastest qualifying times, with Herbert getting the jump away from the line to lead the opening laps. But again, the lead would change on Lap 4 with Harding squeezing in front of Herbert with Hills tucked in behind the pair of them. The championship-contending trio made it a race of their own in the early stages, although Hill did drop back by a few tenths in the second half of the race but the top 3 was never really more than 1.5 seconds apart between them. Herbert managed to get back past Harding in a couple of laps, but the skirmish that ensued only allowed Hills back into the mix and to briefly take 2nd place before Harding repassed him shortly after. At the flag, Herbert took a valuable win with Harding and Hills joining him on the podium, while Fletcher and Sycamore once again completing the top 5. Simon Baldwin took 6th ahead of TCR UK race winner Lewis Kent as he scored 7th place in his first-ever weekend racing in the SuperCup, with Henderson, Rutter and Townsend following them home.
Thanks to that 7th place finish and the subsequent reverse grid draw, Lewis Kent ended up starting the third race from pole position with Baldwin alongside him and the championship contenders back on the third and fourth rows respectively. In a storming opening lap, Hills made light work of the cars around him to go from 5th to the lead with Harding following him in 2nd place from Fletcher, Sycamore and Herbert. The #1 wouldn't stay in P5 as he quickly moved into 3rd place but by this time, the top two had escaped up the road in a battle of their own. Lap after lap, Harding remained glued to Aidan Hills' bumper as Herbert did his utmost to close down the gap, but mostly found himself in no man's land for most of the race. It was only in the final couple of laps that Herbert closed in on the leaders but despite a late attack, there was nothing he could do to advance his position.
It left Hills to withstand all attacks from behind to clinch his second win of the weekend with Harding completing a hat-trick of 2nd places and Herbert capturing another 3rd. After another shuffle around of the places behind the podium, Jack Sycamore took 4th with Will Stephenson grabbing a strong top 5 finish too. Fletcher picked up 6th place from Marshall in 7th, with Rutter, Henderson and Townsend in the remaining top 10.
All this leaves just a six-point gap between Herbert and Harding at the top of the standings with two weekends to go, but the pair of wins has helped Hills no end as he's closed the gap to the lead back down to 32 points. It may seem insurmountable, but ANYTHING is possible in the MX-5 SuperCup and Silverstone in a few weeks could throw up another twist in the 2019 title battle!