11 May 2011

Radical Australia Team Manager and factory test driver Garth Walden secured a strong runner-up finish at last weekend's Radical Masters at the renowned Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
The event was the second round of the six round series, run at iconic European tracks including Spa, Imola, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Zandvoort and Valencia.  Grids of 50-plus cars make it arguably the most successful and competitive single-make race series in Europe.

Other competitors in the Radical field included star drivers from a variety of other categories including IMSA Lites, GP2 and  Formula 3.  Ex-F1 ace Martin Brundle's son Alex was a high-profile entrant.

The event was run on the same card as the European LeMans Series, featuring LMP1 and LMP2 sportscars.

Having never seen the circuit prior to practice day meant Walden was at a significant disadvantage to the regulars.  He was piloting 430hp V8 SR8RX version of the Radical sportscar, as opposed to the 4 cylinder 250hp SR3 model which constitutes the sole class in the local Radical Australia Cup.

"Practice was hugely intimidating, but exciting.  It's such a long track, with so many subtleties.  I really started putting it together when pro driver Alex Kapaadia sat down to go through the data and video with me.  My eventual 2:18:50 in session 2 got me an eighth spot on the grid - last year it would have got me on pole!"

Walden's second place finish came following a storming drive in Race 1.  The 45 minute race included a compulsory pitstop, where Walden was levied an additional 15 second handicap above the standard 45 second minimum thanks to his category-imposed "pro" status.

"After a great start in Race 1, I made up three spots on lap 1.  I was carving my way through until a safety car intervention after a big crash at Eau Rouge.  We opted for a pitstop immediately when the pitlane opened, hoping it would release me  into a clear track.  Even though we couldn't get the car re-started immediately in the pitstop (which cost me another 10 secs), I got some clean air and started reeling off good 2:19/20 second laps.  With three laps to go I was in 4th, and on the last lap I managed to catch and pass the second place man".

Unfortunately a big crash by an LMP2 car in a following support category caused major barrier damage which couldn't be repaired in time for the track curfew.  Race 2 was cancelled, denying Walden the chance to go that one spot better.

Walden was over the moon with his result.  "The whole event was a dream come true for me.  To be given the opportunity to race at one of the best circuits in the world is one thing, but coming home in second place is icing on the cake", he said.  He went on to say, "Representing Australia as a country, and the team and our customers at Radical Australia gave me huge motivation.  I couldn't disappoint them!".
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