For the second successive Radical Challenge weekend, there were five different winners as the Radical Challenge and SR1 Cup visited Brands Hatch.
The first race was started behind the safety car after James Lay’s SR3 was stranded on circuit with its brakes locked on.
As Noah Degnbol and Anthony Ayres prepared for the green flag, Cian Shields was passed by both Jason Rishover and Chris Short before the line and had to try and fight his way back from fifth.
With the lead pair well clear, the fight was on for third. On lap four Shields recovered fourth from Short into Druids and soon closed in on Rishover too. But Rishover had closed on Ayres too as Degnbol’s lead increased.
On lap eight Rishover was off exiting Paddock, which brought out the safety car, but from the green flag Mark Williams lost his brakes and wiped out Ben Stone, bringing out red flags.
“I had a good initial start and pace and then saved my tyres in the middle of the race,” said Degnbol after taking victory over Ayres. “I was a bit hesitant at the start and gave Noah a gap. Then I got more relaxed and consolidated my place,” Ayres replied.
Shields was still pleased to be completing the podium on his Radical debut. “I was surprised to get passed before the actual start, but the car feels similar to my GB3,” he said.
Short moved up to claim fourth but was stuggling with his car. “It was a bit of luck really as I am not used to this circuit and the car feels heavy,” he explained.
In fifth James Sweetnam felt he could have tried harder, “the car was fantastic, I’m building confidence but maybe could have caught fourth too,” he reckoned.
For much of the race Andy Lowe headed a train of cars, with Sweetnam the only one to get by. With Stone and Williams clashing at the end, Peter Tyler moved to seventh, with Chris Preen, Jacek Zielonka and Matt Jones completing the top 10.
Lay’s car was back on the grid for the second race, but both Williams and Stone were missing.
As the lights went out Degnbol made a good clean start, but Lay took the outside line around Paddock to lead on the exit. “I played it safe and turned in too tight,” Degnbol admitted.
“I wasn’t going for it at first, held back and then just did it as the new tarmac made it a good line,” Lay added.
The lead pair were soon in the clear with Rishover, Ayres, Shields and Sweetnam the early top six.
Ayres was into third after four laps, with Shields closing in and bringing Sweetnam with him. After a ninth lap lunge at Druids was cut off by Rishover, he tried again with more success into Clearways a couple of laps later, with Sweetnam following.
Lay took the win by a growing 3.265 secs. “I felt fairly comfortable and in control,” he said, “James got through the backmarkers better than I did,” Degnbol admitted.
Ayres was a clear third, with Shields fourth, but a last lap slip from Sweetnam dropped him back to sixth and handed fifth to Rishover. “I went wide hit a kerb and damaged the steering,” said Sweetnam.
John Macleod was seventh but almost lost out to Short at the end, while Lowe and Zielonka were the rest of the top 10, after Preen went off at Paddock and brought the red flags out again.
Race Three (Enduro)
Degnbol made the best of the start in Sunday’s pitstop race, but Lay stayed close. “I tried the same move on him at Paddock as in the previous race, but he had it covered this time,” said Lay.
Ayres had just started to drop off the lead battle when the safety car appeared with Wesley Fongenie off.
From the green flag Degnbol and Lay were clear again, from Ayres, Shields, Macleod and Rishover and that’s how it stayed until the pitstop window opened.
It just happened to coincide with the safety car re-appearance, as Stone and Zielonka were off.
Virtually everyone stopped on the same lap, so success penalties had more effect than usual. Ayres had the lead, from Sweetnam, Dougie Bolger’s SR1, Lay, Rishover and Shields, with erstwhile leader Degnbol down in 18th.
Rishover was soon in trouble though, “I was holding the gap to Sweetnam but I had a misfire getting worse and the car stopped on circuit,” he explained.
Lay was in trouble too, “I went wide exiting Stirlings, bounced on the grass and the engine cut out,” he said after dropping 10 places.
Ayres kept a comfortable gap over Shields, who had seen off Sweetnam on lap 19. But after the race he was cruely handed a 30 seconds penalty for crossing the white line exiting the pits.
It wasn’t the only penalty though as Degnbol’s storming drive back through the field to take third, four laps from home, came to nought with a five seconds track limit penalty.
So Shields was declared the winner, from Sweetnam and the recovering Lay, with Degnbol in fourth and Ayres fifth.
Williams just held onto sixth from Short, while Jones, Tyler and Booth completed the top 10.
DE LEON AND CAISLEY SPLUT THE SR1 SPOILS
Daryl de Leon made a flying start in the first SR1 Cup race, but had to do it all again after Rob Greenwood spun at Clark Curve, was collected by Gavin McAlpine and out came the safety car.After two laps it was green again and De Leon led a four-car break from Declan Jones, Frazer McFadden and Ben Caisley.
De Leon soon made his lead decisive, taking victory by 7.959 secs over Jones. “I got a good start and the safety car didn’t really bother me, so I just looked after my tyres,” he said.
“This a one-off for me and I haven’t raced for three years,” said ex GT racer Jones.
Caisley had a few looks at McFadden but never managed enough to challenge for third place, despite remaining close. “I lost out at Druids on the first lap,” Caisley admitted.
Brian Caudwell had scythed ahead of James Hadley from the green flag, but Hadley’s attempts to close again ended in the Clark Curve gravel on the last lap, so George Knutton rounded off the top six, from James Ockenden, Sally Erdmann and Katrin Kristensen.
De Leon was in charge again from the start of the second race, with Caisley second and McFadden taking Jones for third into Surtees.
Ockenden had managed to get clear in fifth, with Hadley and Caudwell duelling for sixth, until Hadley was tapped into a third lap spin at Surtees.
Jones had closed in to challenge McFadden again for third, reclaiming the place with a decisive move into Paddock on lap four.
With the top our then evenly spread, the positions looked relatively settled until De Leon was dealt a cruel blow when his water pump failed two laps from home.
Caisley took the win by 3.460 secs from Jones. “I had a better start and fairly consistent race with a much better set up.,” he said.
McFadden completed the podium, from Ockenden and Caudwell, while Hadley recovered to take seventh, followed by Erdmann after Darren Knutton spun.
Published by Peter Scherer for Radical Sportscars, May 23rd 2022
To see the full SR1 Cup results, click here.FULL RADICAL CHALLENGE 2022 RESULTS