The Richardson Racing team wrapped up second place in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge on a dramatic final weekend of racing at Donington Park.
The Corby-based team went into the season finale embroiled in a frenetic battle for top honours in the one-make series with driver Shane Stoney, who held a slender advantage over main rival Lewis Brown in the standings.
Team-mate Alex Toth-Jones meanwhile was keen to end his second season in the series on a high, having shown impressive speed throughout a campaign where misfortune blighted his own bid for top honours.
Qualifying would prove to be a tough affair for both drivers in tricky conditions on track, with Shane taking eighth place on the grid but Alex left at the back of the field after the throttle cable on his car snapped before he had been able to set a time.
The pair went into race one confident of fighting their way forwards, with Shane quickly moving up into the top five and Alex making up eight spots on the opening lap alone.
However, an incident on-track caused officials to bring out the red flag after just three laps, with the decision not to restart leaving Shane to finish in fourth and Alex in 14th.
Starting race two from those same positions, Shane would spend the entire nine lap race battling with title rival Brown and Max Bird for victory, with the trio pulling clear of the pack behind. Shane would briefly move into the lead but eventually crossed the line second to Brown and posted the fastest lap, only to then be hit with a five second penalty for a track limits infringement that dropped him back to fifth.
Alex’s continued fight-back from his qualifying dramas was once again impressive as he jumped into the top ten on the opening lap and then gradually picked off the drivers ahead to cross the line seventh – only to pick up a similar penalty to Shane that meant he was ultimately classified in eighth.
The reverse grid saw Alex as the leading Richardson Racing driver on the grid for race three, with Shane lining up just ahead of title rival Brown in seventh.
A solid start saw Alex hold his third place starting position through the opening corners before a high-speed spin at the Old Hairpin saw him forced into retirement with his car beached in the gravel. It means Alex ends the season just outside the top 15 in the championship standings.
Shane meanwhile was knocked back to tenth on a frenetic opening lap but then set about chasing down Brown in the midfield pack. Although he would work his way back up to seventh before the race was red-flagged after six laps, a podium finish for Brown saw him secure the title, with Shane as vice-champion in his first season in the series.
Shane Stoney - #89:
“Sadly, Lady Luck just wasn't on my side this weekend. With the red flag in race one, another harsh track limits penalty in race two and then being on the receiving end of some very poor driving standards in race three, the championship wasn't on the cards for me. Obviously I'm disappointed, but if someone had said to me at the start of the year that I'd have gone into the last race with a chance of winning the championship, I'd have said they were mad.
“This was supposed to be a learning year for me to get used to rear-wheel drive and learn how to make the car tick. Instead I've been fighting for the championship and came close to winning it, so in that respect, I'm over the moon.
“I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Richardson Racing for everything they've done for me this year and also to everyone who helped me before I joined the team. I wouldn't have got this far without them.
“Finally, I just want to say that I think Lewis is a very deserving champion who drove brilliantly this season. He's been incredibly fast and very clean, and it was a pleasure to race against him.”
Alex Toth-Jones - #2:
“The final meeting of the year turned out to be an eventful one for me. What happened in qualifying was unlucky, but this season I seem to have become a pro at fighting back through the field! I was happy with the progress we made in race one but also disappointed that it was ended so early because I was on a real charge, then in race two I was keen to try and get further forwards to benefit from the reverse grid.
“Unfortunately in race three, we had what we think was a coolant leak that led to me spinning off which was a real shame, as I think I could have ended the year with a podium.
“Despite that, I think I can hold my head high from what has been a tough season for me personally. The team has been fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for any more from them. I also want to say well done to Shane, who was unlucky not to win the championship in his first season, and having him as a team-mate really helped to push me on.”