After a couple of stunning races at the season opener on the Yas Marina Circuit last month, the UAE’s top national circuit race event, the Gulf Radical Cup moved to Dubai for Rounds 3 and 4 of this 12 round championship for drivers of the world’s best selling production sports prototype, the Radical SR3. Featuring drivers from Australia, Finland, Russia and Great Britain, including the 2017 European Masters Champion, Jani Hjerppe, these rounds are taking place on the magnificent 5.4kms Grand Prix Circuit.
Round 3 got off to a cracking start with the Finish Champion taking an immediate lead in the number 17 Radical SR3 followed closely by Russian driver Sergey Shalunov in the number 33 car. But on that opening lap it was British driver Ian Roberts who managed to slip by to take second place which he was to hold for the first 4 laps.
On lap 5 Shalunov managed to regain 2nd place from Roberts, who then came under pressure from another Russian driver, Konstantin Gugkaev in the number 9 car who got by Roberts on lap 9 to move up to 3rd place.
The Gulf Radical Cup features 45 minute races with a mandatory pit stop. To make things interesting, previous success attracts a pit stop time penalty, so Hjerppe had an extra 15 seconds and Shalunov had an extra 10 seconds based on them coming 1st and second respectively in Round 2.
This offered Gugkaev an advantage which he used to the full to take the lead after the pitstops which he never relinquished to take his first victory in the championship. But all eyes were on Hjerppe’s driving partner Seppo Mantyla who emerged from the pitstops just a couple of seconds ahead of Shalunov who set about getting past him over the course of the second half of the race.
But try as he might, with the gap reducing to just 0.3 of a second, Shalunov was unable to get by and decided to stay safely in 3rd place to the finish even though he set the fastest lap of the race in the process. Roberts was only 1.5 seconds adrift at the finish, a very creditable drive from this newcomer and was followed home by the experienced British duo of James Edmeades and Jeff Curtis, and Russian driver Amir Feyzulin. The Australian driver Ben Freer suffered an unfortunate puncture on lap 2 which put pay to his chances of points.
However, they all get another chance to shine on the awesome GP Circuit tomorrow afternoon when they line up for Round 4.
The Gulf Radical Cup is promoted by GulfSport Racing, the UAE’s exclusive sales and support centre for Radical customers.