The Radical Challenge championship battle gets underway at Donington Park next weekend, 21-22 April, with a revised format and a grid of over 22 SR3s promising to deliver some of the closest racing seen in the fiercely competitive domestic prototype sportscar series.
Commencing its third season in its current iteration, the Radical Challenge is an evolution of the British marque’s top-line UK national championships developed since 1999. For 2018, the series will boast two-day events featuring qualifying, two 40-minute endurance races, each encompassing a compulsory pit stop, plus a 20-minute sprint race.
A new control tyre from Global Partner, Hankook, is set to see lap records tumble, adding yet another dynamic to the title fight, whilst there’s additional support from fellow Global Partner, Motul.
Over 22 entrants hosted by five teams, plus privateer entries, are preparing to mount their championship challenge at the Leicestershire circuit. That line-up includes 20 drivers committed for the full season, with grids set to grow in the coming rounds.
The class of 2018 includes many familiar faces, not least four former Radical champions in 2016 Challenge victor Steve Burgess, 2017 SR1 Cup Champion Jérôme de Sadeleer, 2016 European Masters Champion Marcello Marateotto and triple Radical title holder Stuart Moseley.
Ranked second in 2017, Dominik Jackson returns to the fold with RAW Motorsports, aiming to continue the stellar form that secured a brace of second places amid seven podiums, overhauling both teammate Burgess and Jack Lang, during his debut year.
Former Champ Burgess endured a frustrating time, with four non-finishes destroying his chances of retaining the crown. Returning to RAW Motorsports for a sixth term, and with over a decade of Radical experience, Steve is ready to bounce back and take the title once more. He said: “Last year was a bit of a disaster, but we’ve put that behind us and we’re back on form. It’s another busy grid, with a really strong contingent of regulars plus top drivers coming in part-way through the season. We’ve all had limited testing, thanks to the snow, so it’ll be interesting to see how everyone shapes up at the first round.”
Looking to upset the stalwarts will be reigning SR1 Cup Champion de Sadeleer, who makes the move up to full-time Challenge competition with 360 Racing. The Swiss driver proved his potential with four straight wins among seven podium finishes in his rookie year. Given time to adapt from the 175bhp SR1 to the 225bhp SR3 RSX and de Sadeleer is sure to feature at the sharp end.
The Challenge newcomer commented: “It feels good to be heading into my first SR3 season. I haven’t had much testing time but I’m starting to get a feel for the car and push the limits. The real test will come when I’m racing against a full field. It’s been a brilliant experience graduating from the SR1 Cup, the SR3 is a leap in performance but I quickly got to grips with it during my prize drive at Snetterton and got a top six finish. I’ll be aiming for more of the same against some intense competition.”
Mark Crader, who will dovetail Challenge outings alongside his European Masters driving duties, Elliot Goodman, Richard Baxter and Mark Richards should all also feature in the top ten.
Team Challenge 2017 class runners-up, Peter Tyler and Tom Gladdis are ready to re-ignite the fight with third-place finishers, father/son duo Adrian and Joe Watt, after just nine points separated the two teams come the final round. Add to the mix the pairing of John Caudwell with Stuart Moseley, and this class battle will be another hotly-contested affair.
The Radical Challenge action kicks off at Donington Park on Saturday 21 April, with a 20-minute qualifying session at 09.45, ahead of the first of two 40-minute feature races at 15.10. Racing continues with a 20-minute sprint race at 10.35, followed by the final 40-minute endurance at 15.15 (all timings remain provisional). Live timing is available via www.tsl-timing.com. Race highlights will also be uploaded to the Radical Sportscars Facebook page, and via the new Radical TV YouTube channel.