This year’s battle for the coveted Radical Challenge crown has arguably been the closest on record and, after six rounds and 18 races, the title fight comes down to the season finale at Silverstone.
Top contenders and RAW Motorsport teammates, Steve Burgess and Dominik Jackson have been so evenly matched that just a single point separated the pair prior to the penultimate Rockingham round. Heading into the final event, 2017 Vice Champion Jackson leads the way by 76 points.
Things didn’t go to plan for either party in an incident-packed last outing. Uncharacteristically coming together in race two, Burgess was unable to continue while the resulting penalty demoted Jackson from second to the back of the results.
Another disaster in race three and mechanical retirement for Burgess left Jackson to notch up win number seven amid a storming recovery drive from 16th on the grid. That leaves Burgess facing the biggest points deficit so far and just three races to address the balance.
Consider, however, that Jackson carries a maximum success penalty that will extend his race one pit stop by 20 seconds, plus the 80 points on offer for each endurance win, and Burgess could rapidly close the gap. With a total of 210 points still up for grabs, the title is far from decided.
Jackson certainly isn’t expecting to have everything his own way, commenting: “It’s good to be in the lead heading into the final round, but with so many points still up for grabs it’s doesn’t mean a whole lot until the end. It keeps things exciting! Things have been so close between us all year and that will only continue this weekend, all the way down to race three. I have the maximum success penalty from my Rockingham win and Steve has zero, so the title pendulum will swing from race one. Silverstone is an awesome circuit, I’m really looking forward to getting out there and hopefully adding to my win tally and podium run. It’ll be all about consistency, reliability and staying out of trouble.”
Arch rival, 2016 Radical Challenge Champion Burgess says: “The penultimate round was a bit of a disaster and I suspect that the title has probably slipped away from me, but that’s racing. It’s not over yet, I think I need Dom to have a DNF to be in with any serious chance, so I’ll be going out there with the main aim of enjoying myself at the last outing of the season. Silverstone is one of my favourite circuits and to race on the GP layout is a real bonus and a great way to finish off the year.”
Jerôme de Sadeleer proved the dominant force at Rockingham. Double victory and a third place podium ensured the 360 Racing ace not only closed the 77 point gap to third, but hold a 32 point advantage over Kristian Jeffrey. Consistently ranking in the top three in all but the last leg, Jeffrey is sure to battle back this weekend.
“Rockingham felt awesome! It’s the first time I felt that I was one of the quickest out there, my race pace was quick even compared to the title leaders,” says Jerôme. “I used my brain and smart racecraft, I was pushing hard but being patient and waiting for others to make mistakes. It really built some good confidence ahead of Silverstone. Racing there is very special, as we don’t often get to drive on many FIA Grade 1 circuits and it’s a mega track for the SR3. It will be about using my head and taking no risks. As long as I finish in the top five in all three races, it should be difficult for Kristian to catch me.”
Elliot Goodman heads to his home round fresh from his maiden series second place podium, which only strengthened his fifth place standing, but Mark Crader remains in contention.
As Rockingham proved, plenty of potential mid-field threats are waiting to pounce, with Brian Caudwell, Mark Richards, Marcello Marateotto and Brian Murphy eager to add to their own season silverware.
With one of the biggest grids of 225bhp SR3s this season set to take to the Grand Prix circuit across the two 40-minute endurances and 20-minute sprint race, it’s going to be a sensational showdown.
The final Challenge round kicks off with qualifying at 09:00 on Saturday 13 October, followed by the first of three races at 11:40. The action continues with a 20-minute sprint race at 10:30 on Sunday, with the last endurance battle of the season taking place at 15:00.
Follow the nail-biting action on the official Radical Sportscars social media channels. Live timing is available via www.tsl-timing.com while race highlights will be uploaded to the Radical Sportscars YouTube channel.