Jérôme de Sadeleer jumps to the top of the Radical SR1 Cup title table after a dominant performance, taking a clean sweep of pole positions, race wins and fastest laps in the second-stage championship battles at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Scoring his second pole position of his debut racing season on Sunday morning, the 360 Racing driver was the man to beat from early-on in the session with a time of 1:26.230. James Pinkerton was initially de Sadeleer’s closest rival but David Thompson’s constantly improving form saw the Nielsen Racing boss climb the order to earn second on the grid, Pinkerton third. Andrew Ritchie clocked in fourth, ahead of SR3 racer Mark Crader and David Tagg.
Although declared a wet race thanks to a late morning rain shower, the first SR1 Cup race of the weekend got away in dry conditions on Sunday lunchtime. Ritchie secured the best start of the Radical SR1 field, charging through from the second row to run three wide with Thompson and a slow away de Sadeleer heading into turn one. Thompson emerged the early leader into Deene with de Sadeleer in hot pursuit, but a slight run wide from the #10 car gave de Sadeleer all the invitation he needed to slip through into the lead at Gracelands.
While Thompson held strong in second, the battle for third intensified behind as Pinkerton glued himself to the rear of Ritchie’s SR1 for much of the following three laps before claiming third exiting Brook chicane on lap four. On a charge, Pinkerton proceeded to take chunks of time out of Thompson to halve the Nielsen Racing car’s advantage ahead of a single lap safety car to retrieve Mark Crader’s car from Chapman Curve, as the field closed up once more.
Back to green flag racing with four minutes remaining, all eyes were on the Pinkerton / Thompson battle and, although Pinkerton initially looked to threaten, Thompson upped the pace to pull 0.409 seconds clear at the chequered flag. De Sadeleer’s outstanding form secured his second win of the season while Thompson and Pinkerton each enjoyed their first appearances on the Radical SR1 Cup podium.
With all four drivers occupying the first two grid rows clean away for round four on Sunday afternoon, de Sadeleer gained the upper hand amid the four-wide dash to turn one and, once out in front, the talented newcomer continued to build his unabated pace to the chequered flag.
As the fight for the remaining places on the rostrum began to unfold, Ritchie and Pinkerton looked set for a 20-minute re-match of their thrilling race one battle. This time, however, Ritchie had the measure of the Works team car, despite Pinkerton never allowing the Nielsen Racing charge more than 0.4 seconds of breathing space.
The charging duo even threatened to make it a three-car fight for second place as they caught Thompson at the mid-way marker, but the Nielsen Racing boss picked up his pace to pull clear unchallenged.
Nigel Paine put in a noteworthy performance to recover from a delayed getaway to work his way up to sixth spot and challenge David Tagg for the Fangio Trophy class lead in the closing stages. A spin from Tagg at Tarzan on the penultimate tour concluded that battle, ensuring Paine a superb fifth place finish while Tagg swiftly recovered to hang on to second in class, sixth overall.
Jérôme de Sadeleer – Double race winner: “I’m really happy. Team 360 Racing did a really great job getting the car ready. We worked through a few issues and I was happy with the car on Friday. To get pole position, two wins and fastest laps, I couldn’t be happier.”
David Thompson – Second, Rounds 3&4: “It was a slightly easier race for me in the second one, with no one breathing down my neck. I was more consistent in myself and learned a few things from race one, so all-in-all it was an improvement. I got a little bit sloppy halfway through race two and the guys behind caught me up, so I told myself ‘right, okay, focus’ and I was able to go again.”
James Pinkerton – Third, Race 1 / Round 3: “The car felt really good. I was very concerned about the rain, but it was all good, the car was perfect, so couldn’t ask for anything more. I came here fresh this morning and it’s the first time I’ve driven here, so it’s really good.”
Andrew Ritchie – Third, Race 2 / Round 4: “It’s fantastic for me, this is my home race and it’s my third ever SR1 race so to get a podium is fantastic. I said to the guys at Brands that this was my goal for the season and I’ve done it and I’m over the moon. It was good to have a bit of a battle with David, for a while I thought I might have got him. But it’s good for Neilsen to have a 2-3 result.”
For full Rockingham race results visit www.tsl-timing.com