Dunlop Radical UK Cup: Snetterton, 10 March 2012
There was plenty of action at a sunny Snetterton for the opening rounds of this year’s Dunlop Radical UK Cup. Solo runners Zac Chapman and Manhal Allos went home with the victory spoils, while Matt Bell and Gary Kane/Nick Padmore had one win apiece in the SR3s.
Although Allos had qualified his SR8 on pole for the first race, he was left in the pits as the race got underway, after a lunchtime engine change. At the start Chapman had the lead into Riches, from Tony Wells and James Abbott, with Peter Bamford making it a four-car break after Mark Smithson and Terrence Woodward had contact at Montreal Hairpin. “It was a very close start and Zac came across me so I had to lift slightly, then saw the contact behind,” Wells explained. “Terrence touched me and I was on the grass, just unlucky,” added Smithson. Woodward’s throttle was thought to have momentarily stuck, dropping both well down.
The lead soon began to grow, while Jonathan Wright and debutant Patrick Jeans settled in to complete the early top six. But after working his way through the SR3s Smithson set his sights on Jeans and managed to demote both him and Wright for fifth as the pitstop window opened. Woodward had also recovered to eighth place, from Matt Bell’s leading SR3 and Andy Cummings’ SR8. Both Abbott and Jeans stayed out as the rest headed pitwards, Jeans finally limping in with a puncture. “I had contact at Coram,” he explained.
Chapman got away cleanly from his stop and was over 12 secs up as James Littlejohn in the Wells car led the chase. “I just wanted to maintain a good gap and it had helped at the start with Manhal missing,” said the former MR2 Champion.
Littlejohn hadn’t given up and continued to push hard for the remaining laps, but was still over six seconds down at the flag. “I knew he closed a bit when I went wide after catching some SR3s,” said Chapman. “I caught a bit when Zac was in traffic, but it was more a case of bringing it home,” Littlejohn replied. Shaun Balfe had taken over from Abbott and maintained his partner’s earlier third place. Stuart Moseley made the most of partner Smithson’s fightback and fought his way past Bamford before closing on Balfe. “I could have gone quicker, but traffic slowed me. I thought I still had a chance though until I realised it was Shaun,” said Moseley. So reigning Champions Moseley/Smithson had to settle for fifth, with Ellis/Cummings completing the top six, after seeing off Bamford with five laps to go.
Although Ross Kaiser had also closed on Bamford too, a second stop left him to settle for seventh. “We were overheating so I wanted to ensure we could get to the end,” he explained. Bell took eighth and the SR3 honours, with a dominant performance, “I was happy with that,” he reckoned. Alex Kapadia sharing with teenager Tom Jordan, managed to consolidate second in the SR3s during the closing laps, after a three-way battle with Nick Padmore/Gary Kane and Colin Noble went in their favour. “Close yes, just a bit,” admitted Kapadia. “I outbraked myself and let Nick through,” admitted Noble.
1 Zac Chapman (SR8) 21 laps in 41m00.965s (91.20mph); 2 Tony Wells/James Littlejohn (SR8) +6.225s; 3 James Abbott/Shaun Balfe (SR8); 4 Mark Smithson/Stuart Moseley (SR8); 5 Andy Cummings/Bradley Ellis (SR8); 6 Peter Bamford 9SR8); 7 Terrence Woodward/Ross Kaiser (SR8); 8 Matt Bell (SR3); 9 Tom Jordan/Alex Kapadia (SR3); 10 Gary Kane/Nick Padmore (SR3). Masters: top seven as overall. Supersports: 1 Bell; 2 Jordan/Kapadia; 3 Kane/Padmore; 4 Colin Noble; 5 John Reynolds/Phil Abbott; 6 Chris Headlam/Jamie Stanley. Fastest lap: Ellis 1m45.139s (101.65mph).
There was some confusion at the start of the second race, when after two green flag laps the race was underway and a first impression was that Allos may have jumped the start, as it was almost four abreast into Riches for the first time. But Allos had made a legitimate start, as the second lap behind the safety was indeed the first lap of the race. “I knew that as soon as the lights went out I could race, so I went for it,” he said. “I thought Manhal had jumped the start, I was alongside Brad at Riches but had to back off, then got a misfire and lost out on the straights,” Littlejohn explained as he slotted into fourth.
Moseley emerged with the lead and Ellis joined him in an early and decisive looking break. Allos was third, but was under pressure from both Littlejohn and Kaiser, with Chapman not far behind too. “The first corner was very close but fun, although Stuart got away, it took a while for my tyres to come in,” said Ellis. Having held the gap to Moseley steady for the first five laps, Ellis began to edge closer as their cushion over the third-placed fight continued to grow. Although Littlejohn kept the pressure on Allos, the door was kept firmly shut and the top six held station until the driver changes beckoned.
Roger Bromiley’s SR3 RS had gone off and needed to be recovered, scrambling the safety car for three laps, which coincided with the pitstop window opening. Although Moseley and Ellis were first in, they were later penalised for pitting too early. “I had a great scrap with Brad until it went wrong at the stops,” said Moseley. Allos rejoined with a substantial lead but Smithson was second after the safety car pulled off. Cummings found himself immediately jumped by Wells, Woodward and Chapman, before all three swapped again a couple of laps later. “I had a little engine problem and Terrence was able to drive straight past me, before Zac followed through Palmers,” Wells explained.
But stop-go penalties had been awarded which both Smithson and Cummings eventually had to serve. “It had been so frustrating sat behind Mark. I didn’t know whether to challenge or not, dependant on his penalty,” Chapman explained. “It was our race, I was catching Manhal but you can’t account for a stop-go penalty,” Smithson replied. Allos was left with an even bigger lead, but Chapman squeezed every last bit of power out of his SR8 RX, almost catching Allos on the line. The winning margin was only 0.476s. Wells retook Woodward in the closing laps to take third and fourth, “I got a misfire so just had to cruise home,” said Woodward. Abbott/Balfe secured fifth, “Our tyres were all too old, we should have looked after them, but I went off at the Esses chasing Alex Kapadia’s SR3 RS,” Balfe admitted.
The top six was completed by Simon Tilling/Jonathan Wright’s SR8, with Smithson/Moseley finally classified a disappointing seventh, ahead of Bamford.
Kapadia had led the SR3 class during the first half, but Kane and Headlam both had the legs of Jordan, on his first UK race weekend. Although Kane held on for his first class win, Headlam was only 0.213s behind as they crossed the line, with Jordan retaining a well deserved third, after race one winner Bell lost out during the stops. “Tom did such a good job and kept his nose clean,” Kapadia commented. “My first ever win and all my hard work, nothing to do with that Padmore!” Kane joked. Headlam too was delighted, “I am still new to this, but Jamie gave it to me in third and I got second,” he said.
1 Manhal Allos (SR8) 20 laps in 40m30.907s (87.93mph); 2 Chapman +0.476s; 3 Littlejohn/Wells; 4 Kaiser/Woodward; 5 Balfe/Abbott; 6 Simon Tilling/Jonathan Wright (SR8); 7 Moseley/Smithson; 8 Bamford; 9 Padmore/Kane; 10 Stanley/Headlam. Masters: top eight as overall. Supersports: 1 Padmore/Kane; 2 Stanley/Headlam; 3 Kapadia/Jordan; 4 Bell; 5 Noble; 6 Abbott/Reynolds. Fastest lap: Ellis 1m44.730s (102.05mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for Radical Sportscars, March 11th 2012