LEE Williams clinched his third Thundersport GB GP1 Elite championship win with a round still to run after banking three podiums at Cadwell Park.
But it was youngster Luke Hopkins who dominated on track, taking all three wins in the Lincolnshire Wolds as Williams played it safe and settled for points and the title.
The Team Willo Racing rider had arrived at Cadwell with a 145 point championship lead and knew a strong weekend would give him back the crown for the third time, following title wins in 2016 and 2017.
And he looked quick from start, setting the pace in qualifying to take pole, 0.119secs ahead of Phil Crowe, who was out on his brand new 2019 BMW to give it its first run. Team Arkoni’s Dave Brook rounded out the front row as Hopkins started fourth.
Crowe got away well to take the lead in race one, but Williams passed him on lap four, leading for several laps. Hopkins, however, was on a charge and after moving ahead of Crowe on lap nine, found a way past Williams a lap later.
In a class of his own, Hopkins quickly put a gap between himself and Williams, taking the chequered flag two laps later some 2.581secs clear, as Williams and Crowe came home second and third.
Second wasn’t enough to take the title and Williams was forced to wait until Sunday for another go.
But once again, Hopkins proved to be unbeatable. Starting the second race from pole, he dropped to second as Crowe got another quick start – which turned out to be too quick, as he was handed a 10 second penalty for a jump start.
With Crowe out of the mix, Hopkins powered to his second win of the weekend as Williams boxed clever and took second – and with it his third GP1 Elite title – as Brook brought his BMW over the line in third place.
“It’s been a great year, my goal was to get the title back this season and I knew I wanted to go for wins and consistency when I couldn’t win, to get it,” said Williams.
“I decided it didn’t matter who I was riding against, no matter who turned up, my aim was to beat them if I could but ultimately to ride my own races, take consistent points and come away with the championship at the end of the year.”
Hopkins rounded out the weekend with his own hat-trick as he took the final win by 2.157secs over Williams, as Crowe took third.
*Images: Colin Port
Read more about Lee Williams in our feature in UK Clubsport magazine Issue 8, out on October 10