Reigning Radical Challenge champion, Dominik Jackson returned to his race winning ways at Spa-Francorchamps today, with two convincing wins aboard his RAW Motorsports SR3 RSX helping to re-claim the outright title lead ahead of the final Radical Spa Festival showdown tomorrow (Sunday).
Bouncing back from a disappointing outing at Snetterton last month, where he was forced to record his first non-finish in two seasons, Jackson was intent on making up for lost points at the iconic Belgian circuit. A firm favourite for the Lincolnshire man, Spa is where Jackson finally claimed his first Radical Challenge spoils last year with no less than a hat-trick of victories.
Despite letting pole position get away in the Friday qualifying shootout, Jackson came out fighting to claim the first win of the weekend after battling his way past perennial rival Jérôme de Sadeleer.
Clear away under sunny skies for race one on Saturday morning, pole-sitter de Sadeleer took the early advantage. He moved into the lead at La Source, while Jackson retained second despite running a touch wide on the exit of the corner.
Behind the leading duo, Brian Caudwell took the upper hand after going side-by-side with Jason Rishover into Eau Rouge for third. Rishover’s race would come to an end later the same lap after contact at Les Combes with Jac Constable, who held onto fourth until bodywork damage dropped him down the order.
At the front, Jackson got the run on de Sadeleer heading into Les Fagnes on lap five to take a thereon unchallenged lead, but subsequent damage to a right-rear upright would cap de Sadeleer’s home race efforts after the pit stops.
An already intense top-six fight between Jon MacRae, Spencer Bourne, Rod Goodman, Elliot Goodman and John MacLeod only served to intensify. MacLeod was the driver on the move, nipping past Goodman before a pass on Bourne the following tour clinched fifth ahead of the compulsory stops.
However, with Bourne getting the jump in the pits, MacLeod had to find another way through heading in to the final 15 minutes to regain third spot. Meanwhile, Rod Goodman was continuing his charge from a sixth row start to take MacRae for fifth in the closing stages.
With damaged bodywork taped in the pit stops, Constable was able to mount a recovery drive to salvage points for seventh on his Spa race debut.
Doubling up with a pole-to-flag victory in the 20-minute sprint race on Saturday afternoon, Jackson took the lead from La Source, chased by Brian Caudwell, Constable and MacRae. But all eyes were on de Sadeleer as he scythed through the pack from 11th on the grid, following a post-race one penalty, and up to fourth by the end of lap one.
Not content on finishing there, the Swiss-Belgian ace continued his charge to carve his way past Constable and Brian Caudwell to run second by the of lap two but, by then, Jackson had managed to pull out what would prove to be an unassailable lead.
While de Sadeleer took off in pursuit of Jackson, Constable and Caudwell got a bit too close resulting in damage that would force Jac’s retirement while Brian finished 15th. That left MacRae comfortable in third, ahead of MacLeod, John Caudwell and Bourne all fighting for fourth.
Rod Goodman headed a super battle for seventh from former SR8 racer John Harrison and Challenge returnee Mark Hignett, until Harrison pipped him on the final tour.
Lanan Racing’s Chris and Daniel Headlam wrapped up the day with a second Team class win on their event debut, ahead of Radical Works Team pairing, Anton Zakharov and Amir Fenton, and RAW Motorsports duo, Marcello and Oli Marateotto.
Dominik Jackson (Winner races one & two): “I was super happy with that result, we had a lot of pace here last year and it seems to have continued through. I knew it was going to be tight between Jerome and I. It was all about trying to keep it consistent today. It’s a fantastic result.”
Brian Caudwell (Runner-up race one): “I think it was 2016 I was last on this podium, so it’s wonderful to repeat that. It’s been a long time coming. I’ll certainly do my best to come back here again over the rest of the weekend!”
John MacLeod (Third race one): “It’s good to be back on the podium. It’s been a little while – it’s been too long. I’m glad it happened here at Spa. It's fast, it flows. The bits that are slow are rewarding and you get punished so much if you get the slow stuff wrong. It’s just great. We’ve had a couple of thirds so far this season because the team’s great, consistent and works really, really hard.”
Jérôme de Sadeleer (Runner-up race two): “It was pretty good! I started off 11th, and I think after three turns I was fifth and then after another lap I got into second. I was slowly catching up to Dom but I was too far down the grid to make a full recovery within 20 minutes. I’m really hoping for a win, I have zero success seconds so I’m going to push hard and try and make that happen.”
Jon MacRae (Third race three): “I was hoping for a first podium! I have some experience on track days here and wanted to race straightaway. I’m pretty confident I can hold third again [tomorrow] and Valour are a fantastic team. They always work hard, get everything ready on time and do a really good job. They’ve worked really well with me and supported me very well since coming in.