HERBERT SEALS THE HAT-TRICK OF SUPERCUP TITLES AT DONINGTON FINALE

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Herbert did everything he needed to in order to secure title #3 - Photo: Jon Elsey

After a long season spanning the previous seven meetings, the fate of the 2019 Mazda MX-5 SuperCup title ended up being resolved once again at the final rounds of the season, with the second visit to Donington Park of the year seeing the National circuit as the battleground for the three main contenders.

The first two rows of both Races 1 and 2 would be identical thanks to the results from qualifying on Saturday morning, with all three championship protagonists within the quartet. Double champion Luke Herbert picked up a pair of poles with Aidan Hills set to line up 2nd in both races, followed by Jack Harding with two 3rd places and SuperCup debutant James Cossins carrying over his Super Series form by qualifying 4th for his first two races in the championship.

The top three formed their usual trio at the front of the field in the opening laps with Herbert leading the way and Hills and Harding scrapping with both the returning Simon Baldwin and rookie Cossins, as the top 5 circulated together. Baldwin and Hills both took turns in 2nd place in their efforts to chase and pass Herbert, but in the latter stages of the race, Harding launched an attack and passed Hills on the penultimate lap in an effort to steal the lead away before the chequered flag. On the final lap, Harding had the #1 in his sights and made his attack in the final corners. Incredibly, he managed to muscle his way through and snatch the lead and won the sprint to the line to win the race on the road ahead of Herbert. However, Harding was deemed to have gained an unfair advantage in his pass for the lead and was subsequently handed a 0.2-second penalty, pushing him behind Herbert and forced to take 2nd place. Baldwin took the final podium place in 3rd with teammates Hills and Cossins together as they crossed the line to complete the top 5. Patrick Fletcher finished in 6th ahead of Will Stephenson, Garry Townsend, Nick Rutter and David Henderson.

The second race saw a rocket start from Hills from the second row as he jumped into the lead and held on for the opening few laps with Herbert, Cossins and Harding all giving chase. Herbert hit the front on Lap 5 and took over the lead for a while, before Harding made his own attempt and managed to steal it away for just over a lap before losing it back to Herbert. From here, the #43's race started to fade a little as he dropped back behind the leader before running wide on the grass at the hairpin and eventually ending up off the podium in 4th by the flag. In front, Herbert clinched his second win of the weekend and effectively place one hand on the championship trophy. Hills took 2nd with a superb drive from Cossins netting him his first SuperCup podium in 3rd, however the 4th place from Harding spelled the end of his season as he elected not to contest the final race, succumbing to 2nd place in the championship as a result.

With the title almost settled, the final race of the season saw the last partially reversed grid, with Simon Baldwin lining up on pole with Nick Rutter alongside him, while Herbert and Hills found themselves back on the third row behind Fletcher and Cossins. Incredibly, Hills got another sensational start to take the lead on the opening lap, but it ended up being shared by three different drivers in the opening three tours as Baldwin and then Herbert hit the front. Luke would stay in the lead for almost the entire remainder of the race, but during this time an epic battle raged for victory between himself, Hills and Baldwin. After a continuous back and forth between the three drivers, Hills worked his way into the lead for the last two laps and held on to score the final race victory of the season. Baldwin also managed to move into 2nd place during this sequence, leaving Herbert to take 3rd place but in the process seal up his third consecutive Mazda MX-5 SuperCup title, to his and his team's sheer delight. Fletcher and Stephenson rounded off the top 5, with Townsend, Cossins, Grant, Richardson and Henderson completing the top 10.

So, another intense season is in the history books and congratulations to Luke Herbert on his hat-trick of championship titles. Whether or not he'll be back in 2020 remains to be seen, although he has touted running cars in his own team as opposed to driving could be a potential option if he wishes to. Nonetheless, it's been incredibly competitive, and we're already looking forward to see what next season brings!

Scott Woodwiss

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