Jerôme de Sadeleer moves to the top of the Radical Challenge championship table with two maximum scores in the bag, plus a second place sprint race finish, from the round two battles at Snetterton.
Title rival Dominik Jackson twice failed to finish on the podium in Norfolk, and was forced to record a DNF which dropped him to second in the standings. Both drivers faced a fresh challenge from one-day guest driver, Marcus Clutton, who scored a brace of wins on Saturday but, as he was ineligible to score points, the championship fight was unaffected.
The first race of the weekend saw a new name atop the Radical Challenge podium, with Clutton turning an impressive debut qualifying performance and third on the grid into a maiden win. Adapting beautifully to the SR3 RSX, the Valour Racing man took full advantage of championship regulars, de Sadeleer and Jackson’s pit stop success penalties to become the series’ third different winner in four races.
Team 360 Racing’s de Sadeleer got the start of the field, blasting into the lead from the second row whilst pole-sitter Jackson was forced to fight around the outside of Riches to secure second from Clutton. As the top two made to break away, series newcomer Jac Constable kept the pressure on Clutton ahead of Brian Caudwell in fifth, while Jason Rishover, Brian Murphy and John MacLeod vied for sixth.
With de Sadeleer and Jackson evenly matched and the top six order unchanged, pit stop strategy would prove pivotal. Jackson opted to take his stop and 20 second success penalty (carried over from his Donington Park victory) early on, de Sadeleer following suit and taking his 10 second penalty two laps later. Clutton and Constable, meanwhile, attempted to punch in flying laps and left it as late as possible to stop.
A safety car called as the pit window closed, however, wiped out any progress and reset the field with 11 minutes to go. Clutton nailed the restart with de Sadeleer in pursuit, leaving Constable and Jackson to fight for third. As the duo battled toe-to-toe, contact at the Bomb Hole saw Constable drop to 12th, while Jackson continued to take the final place on the podium.
MacLeod conquered Murphy for fourth to notch up his best result of the season from eighth on the grid. Spencer Bourne recovered from a poor start to finish fifth while Murphy rounded out the top six.
Clutton made it two wins from two races after current champion and race leader Jackson was forced to retire with a mechanical issue in the 20-minute sprint.
Jackson had led from the lights after fending off an epic second row start and early attack from Hart GT’s Constable, leaving Constable, Clutton and a slow away de Sadeleer jostling for second place behind. Clutton won that battle and set off after Jackson but the Snetterton crowds were denied a thrilling finish when Jackson was forced to pull off in retirement eight minutes from the flag.
With everyone moving up a spot, Constable notched up his best result of the season in only his second event. After a stellar recovery charge from a run wide on lap two, de Sadeleer secured the final slot on the podium.
RAW Motorsport’s MacLeod continued his impressive Snetterton showing to claim his second fourth-place finish of the weekend ahead of Orwin Racing’s Murphy. Elliot Goodman rounded out the top six after an intense battle with 360 Racing’s Rishover amid a five-car battle between Challenge debutant Auðunn Guðmundsson, John Caudwell and Peter Brookes for that position.
Former SR1 Cup champion, de Sadeleer came back to the fore in the last endurance race of the weekend. The Swiss driver and pole-sitter Constable nailed the rolling start to head wheel-to-wheel down to Riches, but de Sadeleer repeated a favoured move around the outside to take the lead and sprint away.
Whilst MacLeod retained his third place start position, a first lap tangle between Murphy, Elliot Goodman and John Caudwell saw brother Brian leap eight places to run fifth ahead of Rod Goodman and Bourne, who also made a superb start from the back of the grid.
In what turned out to be an intense first 10-minutes, all eyes were on a hard-charging Jackson making his way through the pack following his race two DNF yesterday. Up five places at the start, the Lincolnshire ace was running sixth amid a four-car fight for third headed by MacLeod come lap three.
Picking off places every lap as the order kept changing ahead, Jackson took Rishover then MacLeod to lie fourth and set about chasing Brian Caudwell with 30 minutes remaining. Although the RAW Motorsport champ was able to catch Caudwell, with the two so evenly matched for times - and both picking up track limit penalties in an effort to keep each other at bay - it remained a stalemate to the flag.
Although comfortable out front, de Sadeleer’s mission was to pull out a sufficient gap from the success penalty free Constable – threatening for his first win – ahead of the pit stops. Pushing a bit too hard, the leader briefly came unstuck with a spin at Murrays, but then Constable repeated the error just ahead of his stop, leaving them all square.
With the pit stop cycle complete, the top five of de Sadeleer from Constable, Caudwell and Jackson remained unchanged. But the fight was still on for fifth and sixth spots, as MacLeod managed to get past Rod Goodman shortly after the pit window closed, and then overhauled Rishover on the final tour.
Marcus Clutton - Valour Racing (Winner races one & two): “I’m still learning the car every lap I do. To have two wins has been brilliant. I was incredibly lucky as Dom made a little mistake and it cost him a lot. At that point I just had to bring the car home. The SR3 has been really easy to get on with, there's loads of grip, it’s a case of getting your head around the aero, but two wins in two races shows I’m getting there!”
Jerôme de Sadeleer - 360 Racing: (Second race one, third race two, winner race three): “The team were telling me what I needed to do throughout the last race. Once I pitted I realised I was back in first because they were able to tell me Jac had also had a problem. I'm delighted, the team set the car up so, so well. If we can do that again at Spa it will be great, although I’ll have full success penalties there.”
Dominik Jackson - RAW Motorsports (Third race one):“Ultimately it’s good to be on the podium, but it was a frustrating race. I had understeer from the beginning and after the pit stop it was about trying to keep the pace to stay in third. Marcus was learning the car all the time and it worked out for him in the second half with no success penalty.”
Jac Constable - Hart GT: (Second race two & three): “I got a ridiculous start in race two, that helped me immensely. It’s a case of keeping the podiums coming and we're trying to do as best we can, but that’s how you get up there in the championship, we will keep trying. We had a good clean race and I got into a good rhythm, but I lost the rear trying to close the gap to Jerôme and that lost me the win.”
Brian Caudwell - Scorpio (Third race three): “I keep trying, everybody loves a trier! I knew we had good pace so I was hopeful to get onto the podium. It wasn’t great having Dom behind me, but I realised that I was quicker in just a couple of places and it meant I could keep him behind. We’ll see if we can get back up here again.”