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Radical Challenge

Thunderstorms forecast with a yellow weather warning never materialised for qualifying, leading to a challenging strategic call. After heavy morning rains, a drying track saw the majority of the field react by switching wets for slicks as the track warmed in the closing minutes of the session. Bell played his hand perfectly and secured pole with over two seconds to nearest rival Jerome de Sadeleer.

As the lights went out for the start of race one, it was side by side between Bell and de Sadeleer through Riches, before Bell hit the front exiting Wilson Hairpin.

Jason Rishover had soon gapped Mark Richards for third as the top four sped away from the chasers, led by Peter Tyler, who was later penalised for an out of position start.

Bell was already extending his lead when de Sadeleer slowed on lap six. “It started at the Bombhole, I tried to restart and reset it but I had no power and eventually had to pull off,” he said, later diagnosed as a crank sensor problem.

It was a cruise for Bell over the remaining laps, taking victory by 11 seconds from Rishover, the class of the rest of the field.

“Jerome kept me honest at the start, but then I got an early gap,” said Bell. “When I saw I had a 3.6 secs gap over Richards, I just knew I had to finish,” Rishover added, after third placed Richards had closed the gap to 1.272 secs at the flag.

“I lost out to Jason at the first corner, after Jerome cut back across and closed my gap,” said Richards.

Tyler surrendered to Ayres and Chris Short on lap seven, from where they held station to the flag.

Spencer Bourne had also been chasing Tyler, but a spin at Nelson dropped him out of the top 10.  Steven Lake and Chris Preen were both promoted in the final result, after Tyler’s penalty dropped him to eighth, with Barry Liversidge and Martin Verity completing the top 10.

Bell and de Sadeleer got a first lap break in race two, with Rishover taking Ayres for third exiting Wilson.

Richards and Short both began to close on Ayres, but with Liversidge off at Agostini’s after contact, out came the safety car.

From the green flag Richards had managed to jump Ayres for fourth, but as Short attempted to follow there was contact, with Tyler and Peter Brookes caught up too.

After just one lap the safety car was out again, with the red flags and end of the race soon following.

“It had been harder than the first race. But Jerome made a better job of keeping his tyres warm and was right there at the green flag,” said the victorious Bell. “Frustrating with no real racing,” de Sadeleer added.

Richards was later given a 30 secs penalty for a safety car infringement, dropping him to 12thplace. Preen, Lake and Bourne therefore moved up to complete the top six, with James Sweetnam, Verity, Short and Brookes the rest of the top 10.

It was a chaotic first corner in the final race of the Radical Challenge weekend, Sunday’s 45-minute enduro. At Riches chaos ensued after contact between Short and Rishover sent four cars off course, and Bell led de Sadeleer and Preen, from Richards, Tyler and Lake as they exited Wilson.

MacLeod had been hit in the rear too as he braked and caught out Richards, but it proved the strength of his SR3 RSX as he escaped unscathed.

The safety car was out for the next three laps, but from the green flag Bell and de Sadeleer were soon clear again.

Richards started to close on Preen and Rishover’s recovery swiftly brought him back to fifth before the pitstop window opened.

Bell retained his lead throughout, but de Sadeleer started to have brake problems. “I had good pace all weekend, and my improved fitness certainly paid off,” said Bell.

“My brakes just didn’t quite pull the car up, andI had a little spin on the grass,” de Sadeleer added, after dropping to fifth at the flag.

Preen was a clear second, “at last, I had some early pressure from Mark, but otherwise okay,” he said.

MacLeod’s stirring comeback drive netted him a well deserved third, with Tyler fourth. Verity completed the top six, after Richards received a track limits penalty, a determined last few laps saw him holding off Rishover. 

Bourne, the penalised Richards and Lake rounded off the top 10, the latter having spun after losing second gear.


Radical SR1 CUP

Will Hunt arrived at Snetterton unbeaten, but it was James Lay who took the glory on this occasion, visiting the top step of the podium for the first time.

After a wet qualifying session, Lay was on pole for race one, but it was very close between the pair through Riches from the start. “I had a little tangle with James on that first lap, my fault but I got grass on the tyres,” Hunt explained.

It was Lay who led the field through to complete the opening lap, from Hunt, Dean Warriner and Mackenzie Walker, with Frazer McFadden close too.

But Hunt then had slipped up at the Bombhole and found himself in fifth, chasing the three-car battle for second.

Walker had managed to make a slight gap in second after a couple of exchanges with Warriner, as his rival was left to fight off McFadden, but with Brian Caudwell off at Nelson after a touch, the safety car was out for one brief lap.

Lay was clear again from the green flag, but Warriner and Walker were side by side into Riches. Warriner ran wide and onto the grass, but Walker was on his left, and disappeared into the crops, neither going any further. 

Hunt was back up to pace and was back into second after taking McFadden into Riches. The gap to Lay closed considerably, but it was still 0.585 secs at the flag.

“I had maintained the gap, but that safety car was not what I wanted,” said Lay. “It just took too long to get heat into my new tyres,” Hunt added.

McFadden retained third, with Mark Williams just ahead of Ben Stone for fourth. Ian Cowley completed the top six.

Although Lay was on pole again for the second race, it was Hunt that got the initial break, with Walker and Warriner exchanging again for third, before Stone snatched fourth

The top four were soon clear, but both Stone and McFadden had separate spins and Warriner was suddenly back into fourth.

Lay had stayed close and when Hunt went a little too deep into Wilson on lap eight, he seized his chance and just kept Hunt behind for the remaining laps, with only 0.152 secs to spare for his second win of the day.

Walker was a relatively lonely third, with Warriner, Stone and Williams the rest of the top six.

The Radical Challenge and Radical SR1 Cup is next in action over the weekend of August 14-15, when the series heads to the iconic Silverstone GP Circuit for a two-day meeting (with testing available prior) on the iconic Formula One circuit.