Bradley Smith Sweeps Clean at Silverstone

Bradley Smith Sweeps Clean at Silverstone

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Multiple UK and European Radical Champion, Bradley Smith delivered a textbook perfect weekend with three wins from three pole positions, plus two fastest laps in the third-round Radical Challenge Championship battles in the blistering sunshine at Silverstone.

Returning to the grid after sitting out the Spa-Francorchamps rounds last month, Smith opened his weekend with a convincing third pole position of his 2017 Radical Challenge season, his best lap of 2:03.509 conquering the 32-car field by 0.853 seconds.

Series debutant, Danny Keirle topped the fight for the final front-row slot as just over one second covered the next eight cars. Current championship leader, Jack Lang clocked in third, 0.182 seconds ahead of Oliver Barker, who snatched fourth by a mere 0.066 seconds from SR1 Cup graduate Richard Baxter. Defending Challenge Champion, Steve Burgess, was sixth fastest 0.078 ahead of Team Challenge championship leaders and Silverstone class pole-sitters, Brian and Tom Harvey.

Race 1 / Round 7

Carrying his unabated pace into the first 20-minute race of the weekend, Smith took a dominating lights-to-flag victory to secure his third win of the season while thrilling race-long battles unfolded for the remaining rostrum places behind him.

Following superb second-row starts from both Lang and Barker, no more than 0.5 of a second separated the pair until the closing stages, Barker taking every opportunity to attack while Lang mounted an excellent defence. An equally close battle unfolded for fourth with newcomer Keirle applying constant pressure to teammate Burgess, with Keirle finding a way past on lap four.

The new RAW Motorsport charge then chipped away at the 3.7 second gap to catch the fight for second with five minutes to go, forcing Barker to turn from attack to defence right up to the flag. The order, however, remained unchanged and Smith, Lang and Barker completed the round seven podium. Despite Baxter’s determined intentions, Burgess kept the Nielsen Racing car at bay to take fifth by 0.4 of a second, while Aaron and Lee Bailey took the first Team Challenge spoils of the weekend, a sterling drive from 13th on the grid rewarded with ninth overall.

Race 2 / Round 8

Smith doubled-up for round eight on Sunday morning, leading from the lights for the second 20-minute showdown. Lang, Keirle and Barker gave chase, while Burgess got a fourth-row flyer to slot into fifth. Continuing his impressive Radical SR3 debut, Keirle began to apply pressure to current championship leader, Lang, before making his move heading on to the Hangar Straight on lap four. The 2016 Kartmasters Champion continued his charge to try and make in-roads into Smith’s 3.4 second lead, setting the fastest lap race in the process, but the experienced Mectech Motorsport man punched up the pace to remain un-headed to the flag.

With Keirle clear in second, Barker and Lang looked set to repeat Saturday’s thrilling race one dog-fight. A mechanical issue, however, pitched Lang off into the gravel at Becketts on the penultimate tour, leaving Barker to romp home to his second third-place podium of the weekend.

RAW Motorsport’s Burgess continued his faultless points-scoring run to finish fourth, while Dominik Jackson kept Jack Manchester at bay for fifth and sixth respectively. Stuart Maloney and Sean Byrne continued to vie side-by-side right up until the flag, just 0.017 seconds separating the pair across the line.

Tom and Brian Harvey brought home their RAW Motorsport Radical SR3 home for Team Challenge honours 10th overall, two places up on their sixth-row start.

Race 3 / Round 9

The bumper Radical SR3 field got clean away for the 40-minute feature race rolling start. Smith took the early race lead from Keirle, Barker and Lang with the top four running nose-to-tail until the leading trio broke free from the pack on lap three, 1.6 seconds between them. Although Smith began to edge an advantage on lap five, Keirle and Barker continued to battle at close quarters right up until the pitstop window.

Behind the fight for the podium places, Burgess and Manchester delivered a ding-dong fight for sixth, the Scorpio Motorsport charge allowing the coveted champ no more than a few tenths of a second breathing space but was unable to find a way past. A combined 15 second penalty for exceeding track limits, however, would put Burgess out of contention to finish 10th.

With no success seconds added to the standard 45 second mandatory pitstop, Smith had a clean service and run home to the flag. Drama unfolded behind him, though, with Keirle forced to retire from a sterling second place and debut race weekend on lap 14, allowing Barker to take a step up the rostrum and complete a podium hat-trick.

Continuing a stellar drive from eighth on the grid, Jackson leapfrogged Lang in the pitstop cycle to claim the final podium place. Maloney secured fifth on his first Radical Challenge outing while Kristian Jeffrey recorded his best result of the season so far in sixth.

Peter Tyler and Tom Gladdis delivered a brilliant performance to turn 24th on the grid into their first Team Challenge win of the year, 11th overall, with Tom and Brian Harvey 14th and second in class, Paul Allen and Jason Redding third.

Bradley Smith: “It’s been a perfect weekend. The team has done a fantastic job, they’ve given me a brilliant car to race, so a lot of thanks to them. It’s just been great. Looking ahead to Rockingham, we were strong there last year and I think we’ll have good pace, but the other guys are all pushing so I think it’ll be a tight weekend.”

Oliver Barker: “It was a brilliant race. I knew it was critical to get a good start, fortunately I managed to do that. I knew I had extra success time during the pitstop but I didn’t know where I was in the order, so I just kept pushing as hard as I could. Then I got the call we were on the final lap and I was over the moon, so pleased.”

Dominik Jackson: “I got a very good start and managed to convert that into two very good laps and then just settled in. It was about being consistent as the track was definitely slower in the last two races, so it was a case of putting the times in. Obviously it’s the most important race with double points so it’s good to be on the podium for this one.”

The Radical Challenge field of 2017 travels 41 miles to the north-east of the county to Corby to continue the fourth stage championship battles at Rockingham next weekend.

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