Busy Summer for Padmore

10th September 2007

It’s been a hectic summer for Nick, as well as the usual Radical races there’s also been a Britsports run out and 24 and 25 hour races at Silverstone and Spa.

It all began at the newly refurbished Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, where our man took a brilliant pair of pole positions in the Radical Enduro series. Spa is a real favourite with the drivers, it’s super fast with corners that require serious commitment and bravery. To be on pole here is a remarkable achievement.

Nick led race one comfortably, pulling out a significant gap before handing over to the SR8’s owner, Austin Reynolds. It looked for a long time that Austin would hang on for the win as he was driving well, but with just two tours left Berg Neilson stole past and grabbed top spot.

Race two was less successful, Austin started this time but was taken out of the race on the opening lap by Nick Dove at the re-profiled Bus-stop chicane.

The following weekend saw Nick return to Spa for the slower yet chaotic Fun Cup Beetle 25-hour race. The driving team included Nick’s dad, Keith, Ian Bankhurst, Tony Gaston and Phil Hopkins. They qualified 53rd out of a massive field of 163 cars, Nick started and overtook 43 of the spaceframe Beetles in his first stint handing the car over to Ian Bankhurst in a solid 10th place. Unfortunately Ian ran out of fuel and had to be towed back to the pits – if that wasn’t bad enough it got worse when in a classic comedy moment Ian was towed into the side of a transit van!

With the work to fit new bodywork costing the team valuable time they dropped down the order a little, and during the night were hit several times by other drivers, which didn’t help matters. Neither did the fly wheel falling off nor the snapped drive shaft, but eventually the team crossed the line in 118th place, with Nick back at the wheel having driven a final stint of two and a half hours.

Radicals were next, back in the UK, this time the North East as all the crews moved to Croft. Nick qualified 4th for both races here and Austin took the wheel for the start of race one, slipping a few places but battling hard with the SR3 front runners. Nick took over at the halfway driver change, ready for a flat out charge. Shame then, that his run was cut short when taken out by a back marker.

There were high hopes for a good result in race two, particularly when Austin was able to hold third for the first part of the race. By the handover he was in 6th, but Nick was soon up to second and chasing down Austin Kinsella for the lead. The gap was down to a scant six seconds when the throttle stuck wide open at 130mph, sending Nick straight on towards the barrier. Somehow he managed to avoid it and make his way back to the pits where the faulty gearshift blipper was disconnected allowing Nick to finish the race, albeit some way down the field.

At Silverstone Nick not only competed in the 24-hour Britcar race, but also ran in the Britsport support races in a Juno. Sharing the car with Ian Bankhurst he qualified in pole for his class and 5th overall. Race one was blighted by an engine misfire that saw them finish last, but not before Nick had set the fastest lap.

Race two saw him start from the back of the grid, although he didn’t stay there for long climbing to a strong third place. It became first overall for a brief time when leaders Howard Spooner and Roger Green made their pitstops. When Nick handed over the Ian, he was able to finish 4th overall and 1st in class and again Nick recorded the fastest lap.

For the 24-hour race itself Nick was again teamed up with Bankhurst and regular Radical partner, Reynolds along with Richard Ince in their Honda Integra Type-R. Out of 82 cars they qualified 39th overall, which was pole in the class. The race ran beautifully all through the night, so well in fact that with just two hours to go they were 12th overall and comfortably leading their class. It was devastating to see the car limp in with a misfire, even worse was that it took an hour for it be diagnosed and fixed, enough to see them drop to 21st and second in class. This was still a brilliant result, but it was frustrating to be so close to something special.

Next up it’s the Radicals again as the circus heads off to Pembrey in Wales, where the team are hoping for more strong results as the season starts to near its conclusion.

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