The Radical Challenge championship will descend on Spa-Fancorchamps next weekend, 9-10 June, for the 21st running of the British marque’s flagship Festival at the legendary Belgian circuit. For many Radical racers, the Festival offers the dream opportunity to fulfil a bucket list ambition of competing on one of the world’s most iconic and demanding tracks.
This year’s event plays host to the third round of the Challenge championship and offers an invitational class (non-points scoring) for European Masters drivers. The combined field of SR3 and SR8 sportscars will battle head-to-head around the stunning 4.3-mile circuit over two 40-minute endurance races and a single 20-minute sprint race.
Steve Burgess heads to Spa fresh from clinching a hat-trick of wins around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. He leads the points having taken five wins from six races so far this year. With a 71-point lead over Dominik Jackson, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Burgess has had it easy. In reality, the 2016 champ has faced some of the stiffest competition in series history, with four strong drivers all fighting for victory.
Steve says: “Brands Hatch was a dream and I’m looking for more of the same at Spa. With a maximum success pit stop penalty for race one that could prove a struggle, but I hope to draw from my strong track experience to take another win. The fight is incredibly close, much closer than the points currently indicate, and it’s going to get tougher from here on."
Step up Jackson. The most consistent podium finisher in recent years, he twice came agonisingly close to taking a maiden win last time out. He led for the duration in race two, before a penalty for a false start dropped him to third. Running wide whilst leading race three then cost him dear. Regardless, the RAW Motorsports racer is undoubtedly close to victory.
“I’m bored with finishing second!” jokes Jackson. “Consistency is key and heading to Spa I have the benefit of experience. A podium is my minimum expectation. Battling with Steve at Brands, every lap was at qualifying pace, so it’s going to be about who can keep the most consistent pace over the weekend.”
Kristian Jeffrey and Jérôme de Sadeleer will both look to scupper Jackson’s intentions and stem Burgess’ winning streak. Jeffrey leapt from fifth to third in the standings after round two, taking two fourths and a third.
In contrast, de Sadeleer endured the most challenging outing of his SR3 campaign having graduated as Champion from the SR1 Cup. Swiss born and half Belgian, de Sadeleer will be hoping to get back on the podium at his home circuit.
He says: “Brands Hatch was a reality check after a confidence boosting win at Donington Park. I head to Spa more humble, intent on building my pace and racecraft to get back on the podium. Spa is one of the most iconic tracks in the world, so to be going into my first home race to face the challenge of mastering Eau Rouge flat out, I’m really excited.”
The midfield fight only seems to intensify between Elliot Goodman, Brands Hatch podium finishers Marcello Marateotto and Brian Caudwell, Mark Crader and Spencer Bourne. There’s some new faces at Spa too, with the likes of Jason Rishover returning to Radical from LMP3 competition.
A clean sweep of round two class wins has helped Peter Tyler and Tom Gladdis jump from third to lead the Team Challenge by 20 points from John Caudwell and Stuart Moseley. Adrian and Joe Watt return to the category whilst newcomers Ted Murray and Dan Crossley join with UPE Motorsport.
In the invitational SR8 class, American duo Jim and Ryan Booth will pair up across the pond. They’ll be running head-to head with the likes of Andrew and Jeremy Ferguson, plus Jamie Constable and Jonathan Kennard.
The 2018 Radical Festival begins with qualifying at 09.00 (local time) on Saturday, followed by the first 40-minute race of the weekend at 13.00. The action continues on Sunday with the 20-minute sprint race at 10.30, ahead of the final endurance showdown at 16.15.