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Radical Masters - Brands Hatch GP

With such a large entry for the second UK round of the Radical Masters, the SR8s and SR3s were split into individual races on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, creating four fascinating races across the weekend.

MASTERS CLASS RACES

Alex and Martin Brundle set the pole time for the first SR8 race, fractionally ahead of William Vermont and Christian Kronegard. But after both lead cars slid off, Per Staaf Jnr collected another victory. But the Brundles were dominant at the second time of asking.

The track was fairly wet for the first race and it was Vermont that headed Brundle and Staaf into Paddock. But John Stanley had already become a casualty, “I was in between two cars and they both moved in and squeezed me. There was nowhere to go and it was a big impact,” he said, having walked away with only a bitten tongue, but a wrecked car.
Ronnie Valori had slotted into third, from Robert Enestedt and Terrence Woodward, but by the end of the second lap, the lead trio had already started to pull away.

Brundle continued to run nose to tail in his pursuit of Vermont, while Staaf lay in wait. Enestedt was on Valori’s tail, but Roger Bromiley was black flagged for damage and had to pit from ninth place.  “I had a great start, undertook at Druids and had a collision at Graham Hill Bend,” he explained. The pressure on the leader finally paid off on lap six, with Brundle ahead but unable to shake off his rival. Staaf was still close enough to be a threat, while in fourth Enestedt had made it past Valori into Westfield. The Italian then had Saud Al Faisal, Woodward and Manhal Allos queuing behind him, until the latter pair both went off at high speed into Westfield as the rain got heavier. “I was rear ended at 160mph,” Woodward explained.

On lap 10 it was the lead duos turn to be in trouble, which left Staaf rewarded for his patience. “It started to spit with rain and was a bit slippery at Clearways, then OK through Paddock and Druids. So I braked for Surtees and spun like a top,” Brundle Jnr explained. Vermont also ran off but held it just as they climbed the hill. “I knew they were going to do that, Vermont is quite an aggressive driver, they had pace, but I was saving my tyres. I got him along Pilgrims Drop though,” said Staaf.

The safety car was out for the next three laps, during which time the pitstop window came and went. Staaf emerged with his lead intact, “I pitted exactly as I had wanted, but the starter went and I had to be pushed,” he said.
Greg Hart had shot into the reckoning with second place, from Jaap Bartels, Enestedt, Kronegard and Franck Bodet, but only 0.9secs covered the whole of the top ten.

Benjamin Bailly had only just taken over from Al Faisal when he joined the retirements in the pits with a suspension problem, but there was plenty more action to come. Kronegard picked up a place a lap until he ousted Bartels for third into Druids on lap 16. Enestedt followed before the end of the lap. While Staaf continued on his road to victory, Alex Mortimer began to work through the order, after taking over from Chris Hyman, as did Shaun Balfe in the Bromiley car.
On lap 19 they both moved up after an ambitious move on Hart into Surtees by Kronegard, left the erstwhile second place man spinning, “I don’t know why he tried it there, his car was quicker and he could have got me anywhere,” said Hart.

Staaf’s lead increased still further, but with Kronegard gone to, Enestedt was up to second, but had Mortimer and Balfe running line astern behind. At the flag the winning margin was over seven seconds, but second place was decided with a lap to go. Balfe had been pressing Mortimer hard  for third and it was the former British GT Champion that came off second best on this occasion, slipping off at Surtees.

Balfe kept up his charge and rounded Paddock for the penultimate time, side by side with Enestedt, before claiming the place out of Druids. “That was a turn up, I thought points for the UK with Terrence and Manhal out, but got good pace at the end. Robert missed the apex at Paddock and gave me space too,” said Balfe. “That was really close, hard work, very tough, but I enjoyed it,” said Enestedt. Mortimer/Hyman still made it home fourth, “I was charging after second and just pushed too hard at Surtees 150% and fell off. It was obviously the conditions, not me,” he reckoned. “I had been pushed into the gravel at the first corner, so got at least five places back before handing to Alex,” added Hyman.

Ryan Hooker/Tony Brewer also finishes strongly, claiming fifth when Bartels had a drive through penalty. “It’s our best finish, Tony did a great job and it was nice to get some laps in,” said Hooker. Valori/Cencetti also made it ahead of Bartels, while the top 10 was completed by Meidinger/Rosa, Harkness/White and Powilewicz/Bodet. Martin Brundle took over from Alex, but having lost a lap during Alex’s off, they were 11th, with Laurence Wilkins/John Lord completing the finishers.

RESULT

1 Per Staaf Jnr 26 laps in 41m02.449s; (92.49mph);
2 Roger Bromiley/Shaun Balfe +7.171s;
3 Robert Enestedt;
4  Chris Hyman/Alex Mortimer;
5 Tony Brewer/Ryan Hooker;
6 Ronnie Valori/Marco Cencetti;
7 Jaap Bartels;
8 Thomas Meidinger/Giorgio Rosa;
9 David Harkness/White;
10 Nicolas Powilewicz/Frank Bodet.

Fastest lap: Alex Brundle 1m22.572s (106.08mph)

RACE TWO

It was heavy rain when the 17 car field came to the grid for race two, with James Swift/Stanley absent from the front row, after their race one accident. As the field headed for Paddock in a wall of spray, it was four abreast before Mortimer just edged out Ross Kaiser for the early lead. Staaf was into third, from Cencetti and Martin Brundle.
The lead tried to open a gap, while behind them Cencetti forced Staaf out wide at Surtees on the second lap, which gave enough room for Brundle to pounce too. “We were alongside into Hawthorns, but he braked first and I went around the outside,” said Brundle. It was still close between the lead duo, but the gaps were beginning to grow through the rest of the field as the rain continued to fall. Balfe spun out of sixth place at Paddock, which allowed Bailly to close on fifth placed Staaf. He went by into Paddock on lap six, but they swapped again at Graham Hill Bend and Surtees.
Cencetti had begun to close on Kaiser as the pitstop window approached. But his early stop turned out to be a critical mistake, as co driver Valori was later called in for a stop go penalty.

Mortimer pitted with a comfortable lead over Bailly, Kaiser and Hart, with Brundle and Staaf having pitted a lap earlier. “I just tried to gap the field and hold my pace for Chris to takeover. The start was close but I knew I could trust Ross,” said Mortimer. Hyman was back out at the head of the field, with Brundle closing rapidly after Valori’s extra stop. “Not bad really, I had a reasonable start around Per on the outside, but then Alex got me inside. It was hard in the spray though,” said Kaiser.

Into Surtees for the 17th time Brundle led and went on to pull out a 15 second gap. Hyman retained second from the closing Woodward, with Hart just holding off Vermont for fourth, after a spin at Graham Hill Bend. “I enjoyed that one, Alex M did a great job and gave me the space. When Alex B caught me I wasn’t prepared to risk what he was doing and let him go,” said Hyman.  “That was a challenging drive, a bit of luck, but I enjoyed it,” added Woodward.
Staaf had been set for fifth until he was sent for a trip through the Clearways gravel. “I got put off by an Italian too at Stirlings,” Staaf reckoned.

Valori still managed to finish sixth, with Bailly/Al Faisal, Balfe/Bromiley, Bartels and Rosa/Meidinger more spread out to complete the top ten.

RESULT

1 Martin Brundle/Alex Brundle 23 laps in 41m18.940s (81.27mph);
2 Mortimer/Hyman +15.434s;
3 Ross Kaiser/Terrence Woodward;
4 Greg Hart;
5 Kronegard/Vermont;
6 Cencetti/Valori;
7 Bailly/Alfaisal;
8 Balfe/Bromiley;
9 Bartels;
10 Rosa/Meidinger.

Fastest lap: A.Brundle 1m33.751s (93.43mph).

SUPERSPORTS CLASS RACES

It was opportunity for the SR3 crews to take home some overall glory, with their own Masters & UK Cup double header, Pete Osborne and Alex Kapadia in the first race and Junior Strous in the second, did just that.

29 cars lined up for the first 40 minute race in damp conditions. Strous was on pole, with debutants Joe Crook/Wesley Fongenie alongside. Strous had the lead as soon as the lights went out, but both Marc Koster and James Abbott spun at the bottom of Paddock Hill. It was game over for Abbott, but Koster managed to rejoin. Tony Wells spun off at Druids too and James Ketchell at Graham Hill bend. Crook emerged in second place, from Mark Smithson, Ross Allen, Bernardo Pellegrini and Lorenzo Scotti, but the safety car was out for the next two laps to pick up the stranded cars.

From the green flag Strous was immediately back on the pace, but Pellegrini was first on the attack. Having taken Allen at Druids, then Smithson and Crook on Cooper Straight, he was soon on the hunt for the leader. Scotti and Tom Stubbe-Olsen also made it past Allen on the same lap, while Smithson reclaimed fourth from Scotti, Having already fallen back at the restart however, Crook was off at Clark Curve along with David Jacobs. Out came the safety car for another three laps and from the green it was Smithson’s turn to lose out, as Strous and Pellegrini eased clear again. Smithson had gone wide at Graham Hill Bend, which allowed both Scotti and Stubbe-Olsen through, Within a lap they were on Pellegrini’s tail, until Stubbe-Olsen came off exiting Clearways on lap 10 and Druids a lap later, but he continued.

Out came the safety car for the third time, prompting most of the field to make their stops as soon as the window opened. But Strous, Pellegrini and Scotti all stayed out, prompting a major sort out from the green flag.

Strous, with Andrea Fausti having taken over from Scotti in second. Colin Noble emerged third, from Stuart Moseley in the Smithson car and Richard Carver, with Pellegrini having been the big loser. Moseley made it into second at Surtees on lap 15, but it was a charge from Rob Wheldon, Alex Kapadia and Bradley Ellis that really lit the blue touch paper, after they took over from Phil Abbott, Pete Osborne and Andy Cummings respectively. On lap 15 Kapadia took Noble for fourth, while Wheldon was up to sixth past Carver and Ellis poised to follow.  A lap later Moseley was into second and closing on Strous’ lead, while Fausti found Kapadia and Wheldon both keen to displace him too. Moseley’s hopes were dashed when he was forced pitwards for a pit speeding penalty, but after Fausti found himself dropping three places in two laps, it was left to Kapadia and Wheldon to hunt down Strous.

Into Paddock on lap 18 Kapadia had the lead, but Wheldon followed at Surtees and kept the pressure on until the flag. Kapadia and Osborne took their maiden Radical victory, but only by 0.554secs over Wheldon and Abbott. “Pete did so well, it was good fun coming through the pack too, but I knew my tyres were good and was aware of Rob closing too,” said Kapadia. “I thought we were going to lose that over a yellow flag, but I didn’t even see it,” Osborne added.
“I had one of the biggest moments of my life at Paddock on the last lap chasing Alex, but he helped me through the traffic too,” said second placed Wheldon. Ellis and Cummings claimed the final podium place into Druids on lap 20, “I came out 13th, we had a normal stop and cruised behind the safety car. Junior left the door open for me, but I didn’t really push in those conditions,” said Ellis.

Strous retained fourth and Koster/Bertis Sanders recovered to fifth, after their first lap spin. Moseley/Smithson completed the top six, after their extra stop, demoting Alex/James Sims on the last lap. “It would have been fine I think, but the stop didn’t help us,” said Moseley. “Sixth to third was a good start then went speeding in the pitlane. Stuart didn’t have to say anything, his look said it all,” Smithson added. Carver, Pellegrini and Van Gog/De Graaf completed the top ten.

RESULT

1 Pete Osborne/Alex Kapadia 23 laps in 41m16.311s (81.36mph);
2 Phil Abbott/Rob Wheldon +0.554s;
3 Andy Cummings/Bradley Ellis;
4 Junior Strous;
5 Mark Koster/Bertis Sanders;
6 Mark Smithson/Stuart Moseley;
7 James Sims/Alex Sims;
8 Richard Carver;
9 Bernardo Pellegrini;
10 Marth de Graaf/Tim Van Gog.

Fastest lap: Wheldon 1m26.383s (101.40mph).

RACE TWO

Alex Brundle started from pole for race two and had Kapadia alongside. They were side by side up to Druids, but Brundle held it tight and emerged with a marginal lead down to Graham Hill Bend. James Littlejohn, Wheldon and Ellis followed, with Moseley losing ground, as he ploughed through the gravel at the bottom of Paddock Hill. But Wheldon squeezed Littlejohn into Surtees to grab third, which cost Littlejohn four places as he recovered. “I was alongside, we didn’t touch, but there wasn’t much room and I got it on the exit,” said Wheldon. “I was fired off onto the grass to avoid contact, very disappointing,” replied Littlejohn.

The top three managed to make a second lap break, with Ellis fourth and Strous, Littlejohn and Tom Ashton line astern for fifth. While Kapadia began to push Brundle hard, Ellis latched onto Wheldon’s tail for third after six laps. Kapadia made his first real attempt on the lead at Druids a lap later, but was forced to back off. Littlejohn however had begun his recovery by retaking Strous as the rain started to come down heavily.

Ellis had a couple of attempts to take third from Wheldon and it finally paid off on lap nine. With the pitstop window fast approaching Kapadia was on the attack again too. They were nose to tail past the pits at the end of lap nine, but Kapadia took the outside at Paddock, both he and Brundle went wide and sideways, but Kapadia’s move eventually paid off. “It was a good stint, good start and I got close to Alex, but lost downforce. Then he made a mistake at Clearways and gave me a run at him into Paddock, where we slid into each other,” said Kapadia. “I just didn’t anticipate that at all at Paddock. No one has ever managed to do that to me there. I had been held up and was slower into Stirlings, had to defend and he was on me. I thought I had it covered though,” Brundle replied.

The pitstops soon followed, with James Abbott taking over from Brundle, 0.551secs in hand over Osborne. Ellis handed to Cummings in third, “I took too long to get past Rob. If I had done it earlier I may have stayed with the lead pair,” he said. Within a lap of the second stint, Strous had picked off Phil Abbott and Cummings for third and continued to lap two seconds quicker than his rivals. James Abbott upped his pace as Strous reeled in Osborne, the young Dutchman taking second into Graham Hill bend on lap 18, before making it nose to tail for the lead.

The pressure finally told and Strous had the lead a lap later through Stirlings. At the flag the gap had grown to 7.5secs, “My engine and oil temperature were very high in the first half, so I had to short shift and not take any risks, it was good that it rained, we made changes at the stop and took tape off the radiator and it cleared it,” said Strous. “These case are so good to race, I was supposed to do Indycar’s and then Porsche Super Cup but they fell through. So we bought our Radical and it’s great,” said Strous. “I tried to stay with Junior, but the car wasn’t happy after the knock Alex had. A good battle with Pete Osborne though,” said second placed Abbott Jnr.

Osborne was delighted with his second podium of the day, “it felt such a good balance in the wet, so I was happy to push on until I had a bit of an off at Graham Hill bend and lost touch with the other two,” he said. Phil Abbott had to vacate fourth after a pitstop infringement, which promoted Richard Carver. “We altered the tyre pressures for the second half as it was under steering, I didn’t think I was quicker though, maybe the others were slower,” he reckoned. Tony Wells/Littlejohn recovered to fifth, “I was conscious of going off in those conditions as I couldn’t feel the grip,” said Wells.

Koster/Sanders completed the top six, while Jonathan Wright/Ashton dropped to 10th on the last lap, after Cummings, Olsen and Abbott Snr had all gone by.

RESULT

1 Strous 22 laps in 40m33.910s (79.17mph);
2 Alex Brundle/James Abbott +7.520s;
3 Kapadia/Osborne;
4 Carver;
5 James Littlejohn/Tony Wells;
6 Koster/Sanders;
7 Ellis/Cummings;
8 Tom Stubbe Olsen;
9 Wheldon/P.Abbott;
10 Tom Ashton/Jonathan Wright.

Fastest lap: Brundle 1m35.623s (91.60mph).