2015 Radical Championships - Rockingham Race Weekend
27 May 2015

Radical’s return to Rockingham Motor Speedway for the first time in five year delivered fantastic racing on the US-style combined oval and road course. Paddy McClughan took two wins in the Radical Sprint Championship while Ben Dimmack closing his deficit with a win in the third. In the Radical Enduro Championship Harry Cockill scooped Race 1 glory whilst Race 2 fell to new championship leaders Nick Jones/Scott Malvern.
McClughan just shaded Dimmack in qualifying with a best lap of 1:19.020 just nine-tenths fastest. Brian Caudwell and Marcello Marateotto would form the second row just ahead of John Macleod and Elliot Goodman.

McClughan had a difficult start to Race 1 and dropped back off the line with Caudwell taking the advantage into the first corner, but a spin also dropped him to the tail of the field to allow Dimmack to hold the lead at the end of the first lap, Marateotto second and McClughan third. It took the Newtownabbey driver just a lap to find a way past Marateotto but Dimmack proved a tougher challenge, the pair battling for four laps before McClughan could find a way past for the lead. 

Further down the field there were numerous battles for position. Former SR1 Cup racer was locked in battle for fifth with guest Barbadian driver Stuart Maloney, whilst at the head of the Prosport Class field Simon Garmston and Richard Stables were inseparable. The former would slip back on lap 7 allowing Stables to take the class win as Doug Carter fought up the field to second in class by the chequered flag.

Up ahead McClughan would have to work hard to maintain a six-second advantage to the end of the race, with Dimmack equally under pressure from Marateotto just 0.4s adrift. Macleod would cross the line fourth and Car fifth, with Maloney pipped in the closing stages of the race by Jason Rishover for sixth place.

With Race 2’s grid determined by Race 1’s finishing positions, McClughan would again start on pole, but again struggled with traction from the standing start as Dimmack took the lead. However, Brian Murphy’s spin into the gravel on the opening lap would scramble the safety car for two laps and close the field for the restart. Dimmack held station as the safety car peeled in but with McClughan just 0.4s behind he would be under sustained pressure. Aided by a strong aero tow out of the final corner of lap 7, McClughan could pull alongside on the banking and dive into the lead.

McClughan held his lead to the flag, just 2.8s ahead of Dimmack with Marateotto a comfortable third. Fourth place was hotly contested to the finish between Caudwell and Macleod – Caudwell’s last-lap hop across the gravel causing a heart-stopping moment for the spectators – with Rishover again able to take sixth. Further back in the field another battle raged to the end, in the four-car train of Steven Boyles, Hui-Sun Kim, Mark Hignett and John Caudwell.

The grid for the final Sprint Championship race of the day sees the top 50% of positions reversed; thus the front row would comprise of Carter and Maloney. With an unfortunate stall on the line Maloney would slip from the front to the back of the grid, but all others were safely away, Carter holding the lead over the opening two laps.

On Lap 3 Brian Caudwell fought his way past Carter for the lead, but a mistake on the very next lap cost him the lead as the former SR1 Cup graduate slipped to third. Marateotto would take up the lead with Dimmack second and closing all the while. Goodman was also enjoying a strong drive and closing up to the leading pack to the flag with one of the closest finishes so far this season. Dimmack would take victory 2.3s ahead of Marateotto, with Caudwell and Goodman line astern just tenths apart. Martin Verity crossed the line fifth on his first visit to Rockingham and Rishover completed his clean sweep with another sixth-place finish, just ahead of Prosport Class victor Joe Stables.

Whilst the weather was perfect for Saturday’s Sprint Championship races, changeable conditions on Sunday morning would leave teams guessing over tyre choice in the Radical Enduro Championship, both for qualifying and Race 1. Stuart Moseley would set pole for Race 1 with a 1:21.088s lap on the damp track, with Nielsen Racing team-mate Scott Mansell alongside on the front row. On his return to Radical competition Matt Bell qualified third in the SR3 RSX he shares with Grahame Tilley, Scott Malvern fourth and solo drivers Harry Cockill and Ozzy Yusuf completing the top six for the first race’s grid. 

The rain really started to fall as Q2 commenced with Cockill’s 1:26.853s lap in worsening conditions good enough for pole over Yusuf. Nick Jones qualified third with Tilley completing the second row, Maloney/Simpson fifth and the Caudwell brothers sixth.

The track had started to dry by the start of Race 1 necessitating a last-minute switch from wets back to slicks in the collecting area for most competitors. Off the rolling start Mansell slotted into the lead as Moseley’s co-driver Kim dropped back, Malvern fighting trough into second and Cockill third, the latter then passed by Bell two laps later. At first Mansell grew a slight lead but Malvern was soon back on his tail as the pit window beckoned. 

As the mandatory stops commenced on lap 14 Mansell held a 0.9s advantage over fellow single-seater ace Malvern, with Bell second and Jamie Spence now up to fourth. With varying levels of Success Seconds the order was shaken considerably in the stops, and Malvern’s team-mate Jones was able to pass Mansell’s co-driver David Lidbetter in the stops for the lead. With all stops completed by lap 20 Bell’s replacement Tilley had also scooped third position on the road.

This would be short-lived however as just three laps later the chasing Cockill found a way past to retake third place, and would rapidly close up to Lidbetter despite contending with traffic to lap. It took just two laps to dispatch Lidbetter and on more to close to the leader Jones. Once more, a late-braking dive into the first corner allowed Cockill to take the lead, and he was never headed over the final three laps to the flag. Jones retained second 6.2s adrift with Mansell/Lidbetter completing the podium, ahead of Bell/Tilley, Steve Burgess and Spence/Rishover.

Malvern made a faultless start to Race 2 with Maloney also the biggest mover, up to third overall on the opening lap but dropping back to 12th just two laps later. Cockill would hold second whilst behind Maloney, Moseley and Spence would scrap over fourth, then third position in the opening stages. Brian Caudwell was initially fifth but would slip to ninth on lap 6; with Cockill retiring on the same lap it would be a very different order from the grid that approached the pitstops. By the tenth lap Moseley was up to second before an uncharacteristic mistake by the Radical stalwart demoted him to fifth; Spence now held second over Radical newcomer, ex-Ginetta racer Tom Howard just 2.8s behind.

Spence would pit early to hand over to Rishover followed shortly by Howard, in contrast Malvern and Moseley leaving it until the last opportunity to serve their stops. Malvern’s 12-second lead before the window meant that co-driver Jones rejoined out at the front, with second-placed Howard under pressure from Burgess. The latter could take second with three laps to go, and Mansell fight back also allowed him to take third in the closing stages of the race. 

Jones could therefore take his maiden Radical victory with Malvern and the Kevin Mills Racing squad, 12.6s ahead of Burgess and Lidbetter/Mansell. Howard and fellow Radical debutee Darren Nelson finished fourth, with Moseley/Kim and Yusuf completing the top six.

There’s just a short two-week break before the Enduro Cup are back in action again, with Silverstone playing host to this, the Radical European Masters and the first round of the 2015 Radical SR1 Cup.
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