The Radical Challenge Championship made its second appearance of the season at Brands Hatch GP over the weekend of May 8-9, with the field taking to the famous ex-Formula One circuit in London’s south-east.
Radical Challenge Championship
The Radical Challenge Championship made its second appearance of the season at Brands Hatch GP over the weekend of May 8-9, with the field taking to the famous ex-Formula One circuit in London’s south east.
Having made his racing comeback in Round One at Snetterton 300 with a win, Matt Bell added two more to his tally at Brands Hatch.
The weekend began under grey skies, with pouring rain greeting competitors for the qualifying session, creating treacherous conditions for all. Many were caught out in the unpredictable conditions, but Bell shone through.
Starting from pole in the first Radical Challenge race, Bell built over a one second lead from Anthony Ayres and Mark Richards on the opening lap. “I just got my head down and got into a nice rhythm,” said Bell.
Championship leader Jerome De Sadeleer had started from the back of the grid after an off in qualifying, and had already made headway to fifth on the opening lap, but suffered damage to his wing after contact when Jason Rishover spun at Graham Hill Bend. “I had to brake hard in the wet as I nearly hit Mark Richards,”Rishover explained.
De Sadeleer was then trying to chase down his 360 Racing teammate Richards, as the top four held station.
The recovering Rishover came charging through the pack, and latched onto Elliot Goodman in his quest for fifth.
A lap later he was through, but with De Sadeleer retiring after receiving a black flag for his damaged wing, they both moved up again.
Bell took the flag over 14 seconds clear of Ayres, with Richards a further four seconds down in third.
Rishover pulled clear of Goodman for fourth, and having looked safe in sixth as they started the last lap, John Macleod hit trouble with a damaged upright, promoting Chris Short.
The second Radical Challenge race started in a similar fashion to the opener, with Bell romping away from Ayres and Richards, before a gap emerged to Rishover and Goodman.
De Sadeleer had started from the back again, but had picked off both Goodman and Peter Tyler in the first couple of laps.
Richards was able to match Ayres’ pace, yet had not closed at all. But after six laps he was out of the race, moving Rishover into a podium place, but being pursued hotly by De Sadeleer.
Bell was totally dominant and took his second win of the day by over 16 seconds from Ayres. “I didn’t push too hard,” he reckoned.
The battle for third went down to the wire, before De Sadeleer finally pierced Rishover’s defence with a lap to go. “I was putting the pressure on him and he ran wide at Clark Curve,” De Sadeleer explained. “One mistake, otherwise a perfect race for me,” Rishover replied.
Goodman had fallen back in fifth, but after Short had escaped from a mid race duel with Tyler, he had closed considerably in the final laps as he took the flag for sixth.
Ayres’ strong performance gave him overall victory in the Club Sprint class and a dominant second overall in Radical Challenge. Neil Glover won the Masters class, giving the new turbocharged Radical SR10 its UK competition debut, and Jason Rishover won the Fangio Trophy. James Sweetnam, making his UK competition debut, finished in the top ten.
Only 0.823 secs covered the top five in qualifying for Sunday’s 45-minute Radical Challenge Enduro, with De Sadeleer on pole from Richards, Short, Bell and Macleod.
As the lights went out the order soon settled, with De Sadeleer setting the pace from Bell’s threat, as Richards and Short consolidated, with Goodman and Macleod duelling for fifth.
Despite a brief safety car interlude, the order remained the same, but on lap 12 De Sadeleer’s lead faltered. “I was having a downshift problem and got stuck in sixth gear as I came into Druids,” said Bell.
The various success penalties added to the pitstop times determined by results from Round One then came into play, and Richards emerged from the stops as the clear leader, from Rishover, with De Sadeleer third and Bell fourth, after he had retaken Goodman.
After being so close so many times, Richards was able to celebrate his win with 6.3 secs to spare.
But it was De Sadeleer who had snatched second when Rishover had an excursion on lap 23. Over the final laps Bell was pushing for third too, but Rishover just held on.
“I was pleased with that result, even after the success penalty was added I got second when Jason had an impressive double spin at Clark Curve, but he had some pace,” De Sadeleer explained. “I had a kept a good steady pace and then messed it up at the end,” Rishover admitted.
Goodman was fifth, while in sixth Macleod just held off Short in closing laps, and Steven Lake won the Club Enduro class.
Radical SR1 Cup
In the Radical SR1 Cup Will Hunt kept his 100 percent winning record intact, following up his stellar performance with another double win.
The safety car was soon in action after a first lap incident, when Nick Zapolski was tipped into the Paddock Hill gravel.
“I had got Dean Warriner at the start and was taking the lead around the outside at Paddock, he caught the back of my car and I was into the gravel,” he explained.
From the green flag Hunt was in charge from Warriner, Brian Caudwell and James Lay.
Within a couple of laps Hunt had pulled well clear of second placed Warriner, but behind them Caudwell and Lay continued to run in close formation, but Lay was having to defend from Mark Williams too.
On lap five Williams was through, and Andy Lowe briefly threatened Lay for fifth. But Lay’s recovery soon had him back in striking distance of Williams and on lap seven he reclaimed fourth.
Hunt took the flag with a dominant 7 second margin over Warriner, while Caudwell just held onto third from the closing Lay, with only 0.135 secs to spare at the flag. Williams and Lowe completed the top six, with James Lay winning the Rookie Cup and Caudwell taking the Fangio Award.
In Race 2 Hunt had to fight hard initially to find his way past the fast-starting Zapolski. “I held the lead then Will got me at Surtees, I did get him back but then he got clear, and I was busy holding off James Lay after the safety car,” said Zapolski.
Lay had ousted Warriner for third on lap three and found Zapolski’s weakness at Surtees again, to snatch second on lap eight.
At the flag Lay was 2.698 secs adrift of the victorious Hunt. Zapolski retained a clear third, with Warriner fourth and Frazer McFadden and Caudwell rounding off the top six. Lay and Caudwell again took the Rookie and Fangio prizes, respectively.
It was a weekend of every condition, with competitors experiencing all weather from torrential downpour to bright sunshine.
With the postponement of the Spa Francorchamps round until October, the season now takes a pause until Round 3 on July 3-4, at Snetterton 300. Many competitors will be entering the non-championship Radical Summer Cup, to be held at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Saturday June 12.
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Race report written by Peter Scherer for Radical Sportscars.
Images by Ollie Read.