It was cloudy but dry for qualifying with Mark Abbott’s PR6 claiming pole by 0.4secs on the very last lap, despite missing the first five minutes of the session and spinning at Redgate on his out-lap.
He was joined on the front row by Bell’s SR3 RS, with Timothy Lyons’ SR3 RS only fractionally behind in third and Simon Garmston’s PR6 alongside on his seasonal debut.
Radical co-founder Phil Abbott was making a return to the Club Championship with his SR3 RS lining up fifth. ”It’s a long time since I last did a standing start, I could jump the start but it’s a bit too near the front!” he joked.
Mark Abbott made the most of his pole position to pull out a useful advantage on the opening lap, with Bell and Burgess heading the chase. Lyons was slightly bogged down, putting him under immediate pressure from Phil Abbott, after both had been usurped by the fast-starting Murphy, into fourth from the fifth row of the grid. “I was a bit slow away and got a nudge from Burgess,” said Phil.
Bell held the gap to Mark Abbott’s lead, with Burgess consolidating third by the end of lap two, as Murphy’s flying start dropped him behind Phil Abbott and Lyons, who had also shared an exchange.
The gap at the front had already started to reduce as Mark Abbott started to slow. Bell went ahead into Coppice on lap seven and after persevering in second, well clear of Burgess, the former leader was forced to pull off. Bell was left in the clear to record his third consecutive victory, with Burgess retaining second from the rapidly closing Phil Abbott. “I got a flying start, kept the gap fairly constant and had no real dramas,” said Burgess.
Lyons had the recovering Murphy chasing him for fourth, which brought the three-way battle between Smith, Andy Cummings and Marsham into contention. Graham Ridgway had already gone off on lap nine at McLeans after trying to regain a place lost to Cummings a lap earlier, and Marsham’s attempts a couple of laps later left him in the gravel at Redgate.
It was then left to Smith to chase down Lyons for fourth, after ousting Murphy on lap 14, but time ran out, only two-tenths adrift at the flag. Cummings completed the top six, having demoted Murphy a lap from home. Garmston was also delighted with seventh; “Fabulous, a tough first lap, but good dicing through the race” he said.
Richard Stables was pleased to be home in ninth place, after Tim Porter retired to the pits a lap from home. Bill Henderson completed the top ten and Mark Abbott was finally classified 16th, just behind debutant Will Brown.
RACE 1 RESULTS
1 Matt Bell (SR3) 18 laps in 20m44.659s (103.03mph); 2 Steve Burgess (SR3) +7.477s; 3 Phil Abbott (SR3); 4 Timothy Lyons (SR3); 5 Bradley Smith (SR3); 6 Andy Cummings (SR3); 7 Brian Murphy (PR6); 8 Simon Garmston (PR6); 9 Richard Stables (PR6); 10 Bill Henderson (PR6). SR3: 1 Bell; 2 Burgess; 3 P.Abbott; 4 Smith; 5 Cummings; 6 Tom Jordan. PR6: 1 Murphy; 2 Garmston; 3 Stables; 4 Henderson; 5 Doug Carter; 6 Will Brown. Fastest lap: Mark Abbott (PR6) 1m07.876s (104.96mph).
With the track still damp from an earlier shower, the grid formed up for the second race. Mark Abbott once again made the best getaway from pole, but after pulling out just over a second on second-placed Bell on the opening laps, the gap began to close again.
Phil Abbott had Burgess on his tail from the start for third, but both had the flying Smith closing in, after he overtook both Marsham and Cummings on the second lap, and Lyons on the third.
Into lap five and the leaders were nose-to-tail, with Bell exiting Goddards ahead after Abbott ran wide. Smith had managed to split the duelling Phil Abbott and Burgess a lap earlier, with all three getting past the ailing Mark Abbott too, before Smith charged into second, his sights on maiden win.
A brief safety car period closed the gap to Bell, and Smith claimed the fastest lap of the race as the clocked ticked away, but Bell responded just enough to take his fourth successive Performance Direct Radical Clubman’s Cup win by only 0.307ses. “It was very slippery and I had to make my car very wide to stop Bradley getting by,” said Bell in praise of his rival.
Burgess managed to snatch third from Phil Abbott as the rain came down and the safety car came out, but four laps later Burgess slipped down the order, after a trip through the Goddards gravel as he tried to fend off Mark Abbott.
Abbott M then found himself back in third, but lost out to Phil on the closing lap. Lyons ended a successful day with fifth, after a mid-race duel with Marsham who completed the top six. Cummings held off the recovering Burgess for eighth as Murphy and Chris Lillingstone-Price rounded out the top ten.
RACE 2 RESULTS
1 Bell 16 laps in 20m39.357s (91.96mph); 2 Smith +0.307S; 3 P.Abbott; 4 M.Abbott; 5 Lyons; 6 Paul Marsham (SR3); 7 Cummings; 8 Burgess; 9 Murphy; 10 Chris Lillingstone-Price (SR3). SR3: 1 Bell; 2 Smith; 3 P.Abbott; 4 Lyons; 5 Marsham; 6 Cummings. PR6: 1 M.Abbott; 2 Murphy; 3 Stables; 3 Garmston; 5 Ben Dimmack; 6 Henderson. Fastest lap: Smith 1m07.753s (105.15mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for Radical Sportscars, April 29th, 2012