Dominik Jackson finally joined the hallowed winner’s circle, turning his first Radical Challenge pole position into an emphatic maiden victory in the opening 40-minute endurance race of the weekend at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Having twice been denied the laurels last time out at Brands Hatch, Jackson arrived at Spa intent on making amends and shaking the monkey off his back. The RAW Motorsports charge began by topping an incredibly close third round qualifying session to secure pole by just 0.064 seconds from Jérôme de Sadeleer, with Steve Burgess only 0.148 further back in third.
The combined field of SR3 Challenge and European Masters SR8 machines got clean away for the first rolling start of the Radical Festival weekend. Once the frantic opening lap action played out and outright pole sitter, Alex Mortimer in the development SR8, and reigning Masters Champion Jim Booth streaked away, Jackson led from de Sadeleer.
A conservative start from Burgess, however, meant that the current title leader found himself sandwiched in a three-way fight for third between Kristian Jeffrey and Spencer Bourne. Although Burgess looked promising to pass, his plans were spoiled by man on the move Stuart Moseley, who carved his way through to Challenge third and the Team class lead before the pit stops.
With the furious action unfolding behind, Jackson was able to edge out a two second advantage over de Sadeleer, leaving the home race debutant to push hard before opting for an early stop, only for his strategy to be thwarted due to a stall leaving the pits. That gave Jackson the breathing space he needed to negate the five second success penalty carried over from Brands Hatch, leaving the reigning Vice Champion to enjoy a clear run to the flag.
The pit stop cycle complete, Burgess made a brilliant recovery from his maximum 20 second success penalty, following his second round hat-trick. The former double Radical Champion caught and took John MacLeod before pulling off an awesome move around the outside of Moseley’s teammate, Brian Caudwell, at Malmedy for fourth in class.
That dropped Caudwell into the clutches of MacLeod and Mark Crader, ensuring a griping closing stage jostle for fifth. A run wide from Caudwell at Pouhon on the penultimate tour allowed MacLeod and Crader to complete the top six, but Caudwell had still done enough to secure the Team Challenge class spoils.
Having proved the ongoing development of the Radical SR8, Mortimer peeled off into the pits to ensure Andrew Ferguson finished first on the road to take an impressive Invitational class victory from the back of the grid following early race issues, ahead of Booth.
Dominik Jackson: “It's fantastic to take my first Radical Challenge win around Spa. Finally! It was a little bit difficult with the SR8s in front of us because they can be a bit slower under braking in the corners and then have the advantage on the straights. So I was trying not to trip over them in the first two corners, particularly through Eau Rouge. I got hampered a little bit but so did everybody else so it was OK. From there it was just managing the tyres and slightly tweaking the driving style as the race went on.”
Jérôme de Sadeleer: “That was a lot of fun! The pace was good, I was able to keep up with Dominik for most of the first half of the race but then, unfortunately going out of the pits, I stalled the car and had to do a reset. It probably cost me seven or eight seconds and so that was a bit of a shame. But I'm still learning the trade and second place at Spa is nothing short of beyond the goal I had coming into the season.”
Kristian Jeffrey: “It was really good race today. Last year we didn't really do too well, but we got the car dialled in. We still need to find some more time. I think we need about half a second or a bit more to get to the leaders. Dom and Jérôme are very fast this weekend, so we'll see what we can do tomorrow.”
The Radical Festival action at Spa continues on Sunday, with the 20-minute sprint race at 10.30, ahead of the final endurance showdown at 16.15 (local time). Radical race fans can continue to follow the action live on the new and improved Radical TV YouTube channel throughout the weekend. For live timing and results visit www.online.cronococa.com