The Season So Far

11th August 2006

For 2006 we’re concentrating on the Radical SR8 series, the fastest one-make sportscar series in the world. Powered by a high revving 2.6-litre V8 developing 380bhp these high-downforce Radicals are dramatic to watch and physical yet rewarding to drive. For the second season running I’m driving with Austin Reynolds in his yellow and green machine, run by the Tranzpower team.

The SR8s run in the Dunlop Radical Enduro series, which runs as part of the Great and British series, ensuring heavily promotion, media exposure and TV coverage on both Sky Sports and Motors TV. All races are televised in the days following each meeting and it draws a high level of driving talent, including a number of professional drivers who race at Le Mans.

The first round took place in early April at Snetterton race track in cold and windy Norfolk. We got the season off to a great start by qualifying second and first for the two races. Each round is 40 minutes long with a compulsory pit stop for a driver change at halfway and I took the rolling start of round one, took the lead and opened up a gap before handing over to Austin.

That lead was unfortunately lost by the intervention of a safety car, but Austin drove a brilliant last stint, attempting to hold off the close attention of Phil Quaife. They went through the final corner together and Austin just lost out in the drag race to the line missing out on a win by just 0.15 seconds! Austin drove the first stint in race two handing the car to me in eighth place and I climbed up to fourth at the flag.

The second round was held on the Indy track at Brands Hatch where we qualified 4th and 2nd. Austin took the wheel first and just like the second race at Snetterton we finished fourth. We tried the same tactics for race two however a driveshaft failed putting us out of the race before the driver change.

Next up was a trip to Wales and the tight and technical circuit at Pembrey where once again we were hit with mechanical woes. The engine blew in qualifying before we had set a lap time so we would have to start both races from the back of the grid. The team were obviously disappointed but once a new motor had been installed I remained confident that we could still achieve a solid result. Pushing very hard from the start, picking off rivals I moved through the pack as fast as possible. At the twenty minute mark I’d hustled the car up to second place and Austin brought it home in third which was a superb result for the team.

In race two we had to repeat the attack from back and this time I went one better, taking the lead before handing the car over to its owner. Unfortunately Austin had a couple of spins and we came home in eighth place, but I had secured the fastest lap of the race and from a poor start to the weekend we had turned things around.

I had to miss the Castle Combe round due to broken finger caused by a karting crash. Austin decided to do the whole race himself, qualifying in 7th and 6th places for the two rounds at the high-speed Wiltshire track. He did brilliantly well in race one finishing in sixth place and pulling off some superb overtaking manoeuvres in the process. An oil pump seized in race two preventing him from taking the start.

The broken finger had still not fully recovered by the time of the next round at Silverstone but we decided I should try to race. The high level of downforce makes the steering quite heavy at speed and it was very difficult to hold onto the car through the both the fifth gear Copse corner and the long Luffield bend. I qualified the car in 5th and 6th places but it was obvious that I would not be able to race. Austin finished 11th in race one and spun into the gravel while running 3rd in race two.

For the sixth round we made a rare visit to Thruxton, the fastest circuit in the UK. Average lap speeds here were in excess of 120mph and through Church corner, which we take flat out on the ragged edge of adhesion, the speed never drops below 150mph! It’s a beast of a circuit and would be a real challenge for my slowly recovering finger. The weekend was further complicated by a lack of testing opportunities and the abrasive nature of the circuit making tyre choice difficult to judge.

I qualified third for both races and ran third in the opening stages of the first race before having to pit as the bar supporting the front undertray broke away. Fixing it effectively took us out of the race with Austin getting back out on the circuit with just a few laps to go. Austin took the start in the second race handing the car over in 13th position. In my stint we climbed up to eighth place and was soon embroiled in a very hard battle with the BMS car driven by Austin Kinsella.

Despite our mechanical problems we are still lying in equal 4th and 7th in the championship and with six races remaining there’s plenty of opportunity to move further up the table. The next round will be held at Croft on 9th/10th September. See you there!

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