After a long summer break the Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup North America was back in full swing at Utah Motorsports Campus, August 9-11. The second half of the 2018 season started with action on and off the track as the series stalwarts welcomed a number of new drivers. In the end it was both fresh and familiar faces who took home the trophies from Utah as the championship points table tightened.
The fun started on Friday night with an endurance karting competition. Over 40 drivers, crew, friends and family as well as representatives from Hankook Tire and Radical took part in the mayhem. After the dust had settled, it was Dennis Cox’s team who officially took the win, although there was talk that computer hacking and bribery may have helped steal the win away from Radical personnel.
The off-track antics continued on Saturday night during the Blue Marble afterparty, with all sampling the hand-crafted all-natural ultra-premium cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, but nothing compared to the action on-track.
Newcomer Judd Miller made his mark in the Masters Class, driving his Moorespeed prepared SR8 to three podium places. His progression through the weekend evident in the final race of the weekend when he finished just seconds behind current class championship leader Terry Olson (WISKO Racing).
While three second places maintained his points lead, Olson was unlucky not to walk away with a win in his brand new SR8. The WISKO driver was essentially robbed in Race 1 after teammate Jim Booth slowed in the dying stages of the race, parking his older SR8 machine on the apex of Turn 1. With Race Control concerned for Booth’s safety a Red Flag was thrown, controversially taking the race results back a lap, and handing the win to Booth.
It wasn’t the only mechanical gremlin for Booth over the weekend– he also had to limp home Race 2– but in terms of sheer pace he set the benchmark in the Masters class and entirely deserved of his three wins, which moved him into second in the class points. No doubt Booth’s Radical European Masters experience at fast flowing tracks across the Atlantic tracks had prepared him well for Utah Motorsports Campus.
Like Booth, Indy Al Miller was in a league of his own in the 1500 class. The Blue Marble Cocktails driver seemed determined to stamp his authority over championship rival and One Motorsports teammate Greg Gorski (Smoke Buddy). To make matters worse for Gorski, Ron Fletcher and Will Lin’s impressive performances thwarted his damage limitation as all three raced to be second best.
Amazingly Miller didn’t only win class in all three races, but outright, with his pace often matching that of Booth’s V8 powered machine. However, for the first few laps of Race 1 it was Fletcher who led the 1500 class, until he came unglued on Turn 3. While he returned to the track in a plume of dust, the excursion released Miller, Gorski and Lin– the eventual 1500 class podium. Fletcher recovered to take fourth from Dennis Cox (Moorespeed) and Rod Rice, who finishing sixth was best of the rookies.
Fletcher found his way past Gorski in Race 2 to take the second step of the podium, while Rice went one better to finish fifth ahead of Cox and Tad Cusack (Cusack Racing) finished an impressive seventh in class and tenth outright.
Gorski’s frustration furthered in Race 3. Not only did Fletcher settle into second place but Lin (Radical Northwest / Cameron Racing) gained pace and track position early on, and then maintained it through the mandatory pitstops to score third. Behind Gorski, Rice and Cox finished fifth and six again, while Jeff Wright wowed his Radical Northwest / Cameron Racing team with seventh in class. Not only had the rookie finished up the order, Wright’s pace had picked up by nearly 30 seconds from Friday’s first session.
Miller’s hat-trick of 1500 class wins allowed him to overtake the absent Antoine Comeau in the outright championship fight, meaning he is now first in-line for the prize drive with Radical’s Works Team in England. Gorski also leaped over Comeau in the hunt for the outright title, but he slipped further behind Miller in the 1500 class points. Lin’s Utah performance has started to cement third place in the 1500 class points, while Ron Fletcher rocketed up the leaderboard to close in on Dennis Cox.
Comeau’s no-show was also a chance for championship hopefuls Gustavo Rafols (WISKO Racing), Louis Schriber (Team Stradale) and Chris Souliotis (WISKO Racing) to catch back up to the 1340 points leader.
Schriber fired the first shot, qualifying fastest of the 1340 drivers, commenting that UMC reminded him of the South configuration of his home track Autobahn Country Club. Yet it was young-gun Gustavo Rafols, who was coming off the back of an outstanding win in the rain in Canada, who came away with the Race 1 win. Stuck behind a V8 and 1500 competitors Schriber had to settle for second, with Souliotis third.
Rafols looked set to secure another win in Race 2 until lady luck struck on Lap 13. A gearbox glitch handed Schriber the win and Souliotis second place.
With limited time before the third race, it seemed unlikely that Rafols would have his repairs done in time until Schriber committed the ultimate act of sportsmanship lending Rafols his spare car. This allowed Rafols to salvage valuable points, but with the added disadvantage of starting rear of field, he never really threatened in Race 3.
Nevertheless, it was his WISKO team, who came away with the win in the 1340 class, after timing Chris Souliotis’s pitstop to perfection. It was the Canadian’s first class victory in the Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup series.
Schriber’s second place, added to his strong points haul to move within five points of Comeau in the 1340 standings, while Souliotis and Rafols have moved into third and fourth in the points respectively, setting up an exciting bout for the remaining rounds.
The series now heads back east to Watkins Glen International raceway for Round 5 of the championship. Over 20 Radicals have already entered the August 31 – September 2 Pirelli World Challenge event.