Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – Sunday 10 June 2018; Dominik Jackson walks away from the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit as a triple Radical Challenge race winner, coming out on top of an insanely close three-way battle to the flag for the final spoils of the Radical Festival weekend in Belgium.
After a smooth getaway for the last 40-minute endurance showdown, Jim Booth streaked ahead in the Invitational SR8 class, leaving Jackson to take the Challenge lead. Marcello Marateotto made the most of a run wide from Steve Burgess at La Source to take second ahead of Jérôme de Sadeleer and Brian Caudwell, leaving Burgess to slot into fifth.
While Jackson streaked away in a bid to negate his forthcoming maximum success pit stop penalty, all eyes turned to the battle for second when an excursion from Caudwell at Pouhon on lap three released Burgess to chase down the front runners.
An intense four-way battle unfolded but as Marateotto and Burgess diced coming out of La Source on lap six, de Sadeleer pulled off an awesome move to take them both through Eau Rouge. As Burgess remained stuck behind Marateotto, Team Challenge driver Tom Gladdis joined the fray for third in Challenge, Burgess and Gladdis regularly swapping order as they explored every opportunity to pass the Italian ahead of the stops.
With class leader Jackson, de Sadeleer and Burgess all to serve success second penalties in the pit stop cycle, Marateotto moved into the outright and class lead ahead of his RAW Motorsports teammates, Jackson and Burgess.
From there, the RAW trio fought hammer and tong to the chequered flag, dicing millimetres apart and changing order every tour. In the end it all came down to the final lap, Jackson finally finding a way around Marateotto’s robust defence in a move that started at the Bus Stop and concluded at La Source. Then a spin from Burgess at Bruxelles in turn delayed Marateotto, leaving Jackson to sprint to the flag. But the story didn’t end there.
Post-race penalties for short stops for both Marateotto and Burgess promoted Jim Booth to second overall and the Invitational class win, in turn shooting de Sadeleer up to second in Challenge. Kristian Jeffrey completed the podium slots after a solid run from 13th on the grid.
Mark Crader rounded out a strong weekend with fourth in class, comfortably ahead of John MacLeod, while Marateotto then completed the Challenge top six.
Peter Tyler built on teammate Gladdis’ stellar opening stint to take their second Team Challenge win of the day.
Challenge driver quotes:
Dominik Jackson: “That was one of the best races I’ve ever been involved in. Having the 20 second [success] penalty made it particularly hard. I managed to come out on top of a very, very close battle with Marcello [Marateotto] and Steve [Burgess]. It was as close as you get without ending up in the wall, but it was fair. Very good fun but very challenging. During the first half of the race I just kept putting in times as though I was in a qualifying session and I couldn’t do anymore than that. I just kept my head down and hoped I’d see the right car behind me when I came out of the pits. It’s been a fantastic weekend and we’ll crack on to Oulton Park.”
Jérôme de Sadeleer: “I had a perfect drive in my eyes for race three so I was really excited. I had the success penalty that put me behind a couple of guys [Marateotto and Burgess], but I heard they got penalties so I got bumped up to second place. I kind of feel like I deserved it because that drive was a very strong one – I didn’t make any mistakes and kept pushing, kept being focused. Being at Spa and getting two podiums is a dream come true. This is amazing. The car, I’m really starting to get used to it, to be able to drive it on its limit, to be able to set it up properly with the guys. It can only get better from here on.”
Kristian Jeffrey: “This was a really difficult one. In race two we couldn’t downshift so I was hoping the car was working on the warmup lap. The crew came together to strip the car and put everything back together in time so kudos to them. I didn’t expect to be on the podium coming from 13th. I think Steve [Burgess] and Marcello [Marateotto] had some penalties but we’ll take the gift. It’s good for the championship and points. I’m always knocking on the door for podiums, two this weekend, hopefully I can challenge for the win in the coming rounds.”