The fight for the 2019 Radical Challenge crown only intensified at Silverstone this weekend, with three different winners once again taking to the top step of the podium amid the biggest grid of the season so far.
Two of those race wins went to title protagonists, 360 Racing’s Jérôme de Sadeleer and Fix Auto with Hart GT’s Jac Constable. The third went to series newcomer, Privateer Joe Stables, in only his second Challenge outing. However, another consistent performance from current leader and reigning champion, Dominik Jackson, ensures he holds strong at the top of the title table, albeit by a slightly reduced margin.
De Sadeleer converted a dominant pole position into his first Challenge win of the weekend on Saturday morning, leading from lights-to-flag with championship rivals, Jackson and Constable in pursuit.
Managing to snatch the advantage and fend off Jackson heading into Copse for the first time, the Swiss-Belgian driver was able to make an immediate break and steadily build up a five second buffer over RAW Motorsport’s Jackson ahead of the mandatory pit stops.
That gap was only extended, reflecting Jackson’s additional 10-second pit stop success penalty by caveat of ranking second to Jerome’s fourth at the last outing. Although rain threatened on more than one occasion, it was never enough to upset the order and de Sadeleer proved uncatchable.
Constable, meanwhile, was never far away, trailing Jackson by a steady two seconds. A failing GDU, however, plus a full 20 second success penalty by dint of his maiden win last time out at Oulton Park meant he did well to conserve third.
Although the top three order remained unchanged, Marcus Clutton made clear his plans to upset the proceedings. Climbing seven places from 19th on the grid in the first lap alone, Clutton worked his way up to fourth and within 1.2 seconds of a place on the podium during only his second Challenge championship outing.
The fight for fifth presented one of the closest late-race battles, as John MacLeod fended off the valiant efforts of Elliot Goodman to sit 0.6s clear at the flag, completing the top six. Jon MacRae delivered a notable climb from 14th to seventh place. He was followed home by Scorpio’s John Caudwell, who almost matched Clutton for most places gained, moving from 22nd to eighth at the flag.
Lanan Racing’s Chris and Daniel Headlam took the first Team Challenge spoils of the weekend from Marcello and Oli Marateotto.
Constable took a second win of his maiden Radical Challenge season in the sprint race on Saturday afternoon, following an epic effort by the Fix Auto with Hart GT team to replace an engine and GDU between the first two encounters of the day.
Jackson initially headed the dramatic 20-minute dash to the flag, getting the jump on pole-sitter de Sadeleer into Copse with Constable, Chris Preen and Joe Stables taking chase. A small mistake from Jackson towards the end of lap one, however, allowed Constable to get the run out of Woodcote to head toe-to-toe down the National Pits Straight before slipping ahead at Copse.
A disastrous opening lap for de Sadeleer saw him down in fifth with it all to do, but hot on his rear wing was Clutton, up to sixth from 20th on the grid. The pair nipped past Preen to briefly lie fourth and fifth. Although Clutton was able to find a way around de Sadeleer the following tour, third-placed Stables was already up the road.
Come the halfway mark, Jackson sliced Constable’s advantage by half and Clutton was attempting to hunt down Stables, setting a series of fastest laps in the process. But their efforts proved in vain and the order remained unchanged, while de Sadeleer held fifth and Preen continued his impressive debut in sixth.
Daniel Headlam took another Team Challenge win ahead of Amir Feyzulin in the #33 and Oli Marateotto Jnr in the #94.
The 26-car field served up a belter of a third and final encounter of the weekend, with three different leaders throughout the 50-minute race. Constable initially led the way from pole, until Jackson took the initiative heading into the Luffield section. Clutton tried to follow suit but, by the end of lap one, it was Jackson from Stables, Clutton, Constable and de Sadeleer.
Clutton found a way through to second on lap four, leaving Stables to head the battle for third from Constable and de Sadeleer. Leader Jackson, meanwhile, tried to make good his escape but was unable to pull more than 1.5 seconds clear of the pressing pack behind.
It took until two laps ahead of the pit stop window before Jackson and Clutton could make their break, while Constable began to shake-off de Sadeleer and focus on Stables. But that was before the mandatory stops played their part.
With success second penalties applied according to the race one results, it was a penalty-free Stables that came out on top, with Clutton second. Constable, who had five seconds less to spend in the pits, predictably overhauled Jackson to emerge third.
No sooner had the pit window closed, a short safety car - required to recover the #888 from Farm - equalised the field and, crucially, brought de Sadeleer back in the picture following his maximum success penalty and race one win.
Back to green with barely six minutes to go, Clutton tried his luck for the lead at Copse but Stables held strong. The real drama came on the penultimate tour when de Sadeleer pulled off a stellar opportunistic move up the inside of both Constable and Jackson for third as they jostled through Village – a move that could prove a decisive factor against his title rivals.
MacLeod delivered a strong charge from 17th on the grid, working his way up nine spots on the opening lap and into the top six by lap five, where he stayed ahead of Preen. Elliot Goodman came out on top of the intense battle for eighth, after a blistering drive from the back of the grid to head Jason Rishover, Martin Verity, Mark Crader and Rod Goodman.
The Headlams sealed another hat-trick of Team Challenge victories, leading Amir Feyzulin and Anton Zakharov, and Marcello and Oli Marateotto to the flag.
Jérôme de Sadeleer, 360 Racing (Winner race one, third race three): “My team told me to drive much more calmly than I did yesterday as it wasn't a good result in the sprint race. I managed to pick up Dominik and Jac in third and fourth which was good. I really managed the race well and took the opportunity when the guys ahead were battling among themselves. I’m looking forward to Brands Hatch. I had a big crash there last year so I have unfinished business!”
Jac Constable, Fix Auto with Hart GT (Winner race two, third race one): “Race two was one of the more enjoyable ones. We changed the engine and GDU between race one and two, the team did an amazing job to get us to the grid. It was good to get up to the front and show what pace we have.”
Joe Stables, Privateer (Winner race three, third race two): “It was great to make up for the first race where I only lasted a few laps. I’ve been driving the Radical for a while now so I have my head around it, it's just about finding the last few tenths now. I realised I had the pace to stay in front when the safety car came out, so just kept at it and luckily came away with the win. I'm quite strong on the Brands GP circuit so hopefully I can continue this form.”
Dominik Jackson, RAW Motorsports (Second race one and two): “We all made a poor start at the beginning of race two, but mine was the best of them. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on the opening lap and it allowed Jac through. We were very close on pace and he deserved the win.”
Marcus Clutton, Valour Racing (Second race three): “It’s been an interesting weekend for me! We had a wishbone break in qualifying so I had to work back up the field in both races yesterday. I didn’t quite have the pace today and despite pressing as hard as I could second was the best I could get.”
For full results visit www.tsl-timing.com