This is it - Herbert or Harding? Who's going to be the 2018 champion - Photo: Jon Elsey

If you could write the script of the 2018 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup, there’s be no better setup for a finale than with two title protagonists level on points after dropped scores with just three races left to run. Each head into the weekend also with the same amounts of wins and with an armada of front-running drivers ready to put them both under pressure. The question is, which one will leave Donington Park this weekend as the champion – Luke Herbert or Jack Harding?

Reigning champion Herbert had a tricky beginning to the season at Silverstone, before scooping his first two wins of the season at Knockhill. The other three would come with a further double at the following rounds at Brands Hatch and one at Oulton Park, but this was subsidised by a multitude of 2nd and 3rd place finishes to maintain his place at the head of the table. Last time out at Croft, he couldn’t better a pair of 2nd places, but crucially finished both races ahead of Harding which allowed him to tie for the points lead heading to this weekend. Herbert would dearly love to become the first back-to-back SuperCup champion, but he knows that a stern test awaits him this weekend.

That test is guaranteed to come from rival Harding, who is in his fourth season in the championship and in the form of his life. Having begun back in 2015, Jack picked up his first SuperCup wins at the end of the 2016 season and was in contention for the championship last season until an exclusion scuppered his chances. This time, Jack has driven almost flawlessly all year and needs another strong ending as in previous years to secure a much coveted title. He started the year with a win at Silverstone, but then had to wait until Rockingham to collect two more wins before then collecting one each at Castle Combe and Oulton Park. What has been the key to his title campaign, however, has been his consistency as he’s never finished outside the top 5 all year and seen the end of every race he’s started. All he needs is some more of that good fortune and that long awaited champion status could be leaving with him.

Both Herbert and Harding still have hurdles to clear before they reach the finish. Aidan Hills, a driver who has racked up several podiums and his first win at Oulton Park, lies 3rd some 44 points back from the tying leaders. Should misfortune befall either driver or even both, he could be the one to pick up the pieces. His transition from junior rallycross champion to circuit racing title contender has been superb to watch over the last two seasons and surely a real title charge must be on the cards next year.

Another driver to be a dangerous threat will be 2016 champion James Blake-Baldwin, who has arguably been the man in form in recent races. He may still have been an element in the championship if he, like Harding last year, hadn’t suffered a disqualification after contact at Castle Combe which pushed him out of contention. However, having won both races at Croft last time out, the momentum is with him, so perhaps any success this weekend could be an indication of the resurgence in 2019.

Other front runners to be wary off that could be a catalyst in the outcome of the title include Castle Combe race winner Steve Roberts, Jonathan Greensmith, Simon Baldwin (JB-B’s step brother), and the return of a certain Rob Boston in one of his own team cars, after running a part season last year and taking a bunch of victories in the process. Also be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Carl Garnett, Colin Bysouth, Richard Wicklen, Will Stacey, Kristian White, James Harris, Jack Sycamore and Sam Tatler too – plenty of names to choose from when picking a favourite.

Every year, the SuperCup proves its sheer competitiveness by consistently going down to the wire at the final race weekend of the season. Whether or not we’ll have to wait until the chequered flag in the very last race of 2018 on Sunday afternoon to crown our new champion remains to be seen. Until then, let battle commence!

Scott Woodwiss

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