Dominik Jackson got his Radical Challenge championship defence off to the best possible start, taking two out of three opening round wins at Donington Park. But the 2018 champion faced a full-on attack from Jerome de Sadeleer, and added pressure from new rivals Mark Richards and Jac Constable.
Jackson got his title defence underway with his first win of the season at Donington Park on Saturday morning, beating pole-sitter de Sadeleer to the top step of the podium.
The pair started 2019 battling side-by-side heading down to Redgate, de Sadeleer stealing the advantage despite Jackson’s efforts to go around the outside. But the RAW Motorsport charge managed to snatch the top spot at the Chicane, just ahead of a 15-minute safety car required to recover Rod Goodman’s stricken car at Redgate, whilst Oli Marateotto Jnr suffered a heavy off on Exhibition straight.
Drama at the restart saw de Sadeleer run wide at the Chicane, handing Jackson the advantage and allowing Richards, Brian Caudwell and series newcomer Constable to all move up the order. As de Sadeleer fought back to third, Jackson’s advantage was demolished with a second safety car period on the cusp of the pit stop window.
Only Richards and de Sadeleer opted to stay out in a bid to slash Jackson’s lead. From the moment the safety car came in, the 360 Racing teammates were embroiled in a nose-to-tail battle, right up until de Sadeleer capitalised on Richard’s minor mistake at the Chicane. However, the deficit proved too much, and the podium places remained unchanged.
Constable continued a stellar debut drive for Hart GT to finish a comfortable fourth, ahead of an untroubled Brian Murphy. Spencer Bourne emerged at the head of the multi-car fight for the last top six spot between John MacLeod, Elliot Goodman, Brian Caudwell and Jason Rishover, until an off at Coppice spoiled his chances.
Radio Le Mans’ John Hindhaugh acquitted himself to his Radical Works Team media guest drive perfectly with a top ten finish. Series debutant, Grant Dalton OBE finished a commendable 11th overall.
Race 2 (sprint race)
The tables turned for the 20-minute sprint race, with de Sadeleer taking his first season laurels after Jackson got bogged down at the standing start. Swamped as de Sadeleer, MacLeod and Richards sailed past, Jackson charged back through to second whilst the mid-field jostled at Redgate, resulting in a two-lap full course yellow affecting Rod Goodman, Marcello Marateotto and Rishover.
Clean away at the restart, de Sadeleer set about pulling clear of Jackson and Richards, while a fantastic four-car fight unfolded between MacLeod, Constable, Bourne and Murphy for fourth. Although Jackson’s series of consecutive fastest laps clipped de Sadeleer’s lead to 0.597 seconds, the 2017 SR1 Cup Champion always had the reply and was never headed. Richards, meanwhile, continued his faultless drive to earn a brace of third places.
Once clear of a slowing MacLeod with five laps to go, Constable managed to break free from the fray to once again finish a place away from the podium on his inaugural outing. Bourne and Murphy then completed the top six.
Hindhaugh continued his stellar debut efforts with an 11th place finish and personal best time of 1:08.993, just two seconds adrift of the leaders – a remarkable feat given he first set foot in the SR3 RSX in testing on Thursday.
Jackson doubled up with his second endurance win of the weekend on Sunday morning, but the Lincolnshire ace had to work hard to ensure he stayed at the top of the points table, while de Sadeleer delivered a stellar drive to fight back to podium honours.
Pole-man de Sadeleer emerged with the early lead, holding his nerve in wheel-to-wheel battle with Jackson into Redgate with Constable third, before a brief safety car to retrieve Mark Richards from the Chicane gravel trap halted progress.
Although the Swiss driver initially edged away at the restart, Jackson began to pile on the pressure before a brave move around the outside of the Craner Curves secured the lead on lap 13. From there the RAW Motorsports man pushed on with the aim of negating his maximum 20 second success penalty from Saturday’s race one win.
A spin from fifth placed Bourne and resulting full course yellow as the pit window opened gave both Jackson and third-placed Constable the ideal opportunity to stop. But with Constable only serving five success seconds to Jackson’s 20, the series newcomer emerged leading the field.
Pit stops complete and back to green with 20 minutes remaining, Jackson piled on the pressure as he tried to find a way past the Hart GT debutant, but Constable kept the champion at bay until Jackson made a bold move around the outside of Redgate approaching the final 15 minutes.
De Sadeleer, meanwhile, had it all to do battling 10 seconds in time penalties, which placed him 13th on the timing screens. A blistering drive lapping consistently just off Jackson’s record pace meant he was able to charge back through to second on the road, third with the imposed penalties to protect his podium record. That left Constable to collect a more than deserved podium on his maiden Challenge weekend, to sit third in the title standings.
Elliot Goodman finished just outside the podium having worked his way through multi-car battles from 10th on the grid, getting the better of Murphy and MacLeod in the closing stages. Other notable drives included a stellar run from 360 Racing’s Rishover, whose seventh place finish from an eighth row start saw him work his way up the order to trail the battle for fourth.
Media guest driver, Hindhaugh capped his weekend with another result on the cusp of the top ten despite an enforced first corner spin and battle back from 17th place.
Dominic Jackson (Winner race one & three): “I'm very happy with that. Race one was very smooth race, apart from lap one and having to get back past Jerome. We were rolling down the hill and I bogged down at the start of race two, but I managed to make up for it and squeeze my way up to second. It was super close all the way through race three. When you have the success penalties it feels like a double win when you pull it off. We managed to pit at just the right time but came back out behind Jac. I knew he had some pace on him and it was a case of picking a point to re-take the lead. It's a brilliant start to the season.”
Jerome de Sadeleer (Runner-up race one, winner race two, third race three): “Race one was a mixed race. I kept making mistakes and Dominik took advantage of that. I fell back down to fifth and climbed my way back up to second. It's a big step up from what I was doing last year. My wife told me I was too cocky going into race one, so I kept my head cool and managed my race properly and it paid off to get first place. The weekend is extremely positive for the championship. The pace is there, I just have to find some more race consistency. I dropped back to tenth and had to make my way aggressively back up to second on the road. It was encouraging for the season and I'm going to continue pushing.”
Mark Richards (Third race one and race two): “I started third and finished third in both races. Second would have been nice but I wasn't going to catch Jackson. I had a great battle with Jerome for about ten laps, but I made a small mistake and he got past me. I got a good start in race two and got ahead of Dominik, but then lost a couple of places and I couldn't close the gap.”
Jac Constable (Second race three): “I'm really, really happy with what we’ve achieved as a new championship team this weekend. We had a great first day and with what we found overnight and this morning, the car felt a load better. It’s all about gaining experience and we’ve learned a lot, so onwards and upwards to the next one.”
Radical Challenge Round 1, Donington Park – Provisional Results
1. Dominik JACKSON SR3 RSX 50:52.913
2. Jerome DE SADELEER SR3 RSX +8.386
3. Mark RICHARDS SR3 RSX +14.957
4. Jac CONSTABLE SR3 RSX +28.600
5. Brian MURPHY SR3 RSX +31.603
6. Spencer BOURNE SR3 RSX +38.729
1. Jerome DE SADELEER SR3 RSX 20:50.305
2. Dominik JACKSON SR3 RSX +0.956
3. Mark RICHARDS SR3 RSX +11.216
4. Jac CONSTABLE SR3 RSX +21.548
5. Spencer BOURNE SR3 RSX +25.460
6. Brian MURPHY SR3 RSX +26.438
1. Dominik JACKSON SR3 RSX 50:57.396
2. Jac CONSTABLE SR3 RSX +13.609
3. Jerome DE SADELEER SR3 RSX +18.545
4. Elliot GOODMAN SR3 RSX +22.492
5. Brian MURPHY SR3 RSX +25.265
6. John MACLEOD SR3 RSX +28.185
For full results visit www.tsl-timing.com