Rad­i­cal win­ners

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - Photos: Joshua Bar­rett

There were three dif­fer­ent win­ners in the Rad­i­cal Euro­pean Masters at Spa-fran­cor­champs last week­end. Man­hal Al­los and Alex Ka­pa­dia’s RAW SR8 took a last lap vic­tory over Jeremy and An­drew Fer­gu­son’s Spy­der, while Colin Noble Jr took a de­but vic­tory in race two, hav­ing led from the start be­fore hand­ing to James Abbott. Tony Wells and James Lit­tle­john took their third win of the sea­son in a wet race three, as their Nielsen SR8 led from the sec­ond lap af­ter de­mot­ing Al­los/ka­pa­dia, who went on to re­tain sec­ond.

The bat­tle be­tween Pet­ter Sol­berg and Se­bastien Loeb has been one of the most ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated ri­val­ries of the sea­son.

Both driv­ers know each other well from their time fight­ing each other in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, both are in the World Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship and both have top-level equip­ment to use.

Loeb has rid­den into Sol­berg’s back gar­den, ef­fec­tively. Sol­berg has won the two World Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship ti­tles since its in­cep­tion in 2014. Loeb has dipped his toe in with a cou­ple of RX out­ings in pre­vi­ous years among other projects, but has now com­mit­ted full time.

And, the signs for the French­man are look­ing good – and Ly­d­den Hill could have come at just the right time for a lip-smack­ing con­test. Loeb scored a podium last time out in Bel­gium, as he be­comes more fa­mil­iar with the Peu­geot. He is un­lock­ing the se­crets he needs to find to be a top player. Sol­berg knows the challenge is com­ing, and is des­per­ate to hold on to his spot as King of the Cas­tle.

Fac­tor in back-to-back round win­ner Mat­tias Ek­strom too, and it is clear that a real dog­fight will take place in Kent this week­end.

There is, of course, a cloud loom­ing over Ly­d­den Hill in the form of its plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for up­grades to the venue. These are des­per­ately needed to make sure that the track can con­tinue to op­er­ate in a fi­nan­cially vi­able way.

Owner Pat Doran and his team have dragged the cir­cuit up to a po­si­tion whereby it is now ca­pa­ble of host­ing top-level in­ter­na­tional events, but one meet­ing a sea­son does not make a track sus­tain­able.

There has to be more hap­pen­ing at Ly­d­den to make the place work, and the coun­cil, which has been asked to ap­prove the up­grades to the in­fra­struc­ture around the cir­cuit, needs to take this on board.

The WRX meet­ing pro­vides a huge boost for the lo­cal econ­omy be­cause it is the over­seas round that many Euro­pean fans come to, be­ing so close to a huge fan base in Hol­land and Bel­gium.

Lose that event, and then the rest of the cir­cuit’s sched­ule is not enough to sus­tain it. Ly­d­den needs to grow for the ben­e­fit of ev­ery­one.

Lo­cal coun­cil­lors aren’t just voted in to stop noise pol­lu­tion. They are elected to pro­tect in­vest­ment in a lo­cal area, busi­nesses, em­ploy­ment and pro­file. Some­times they need to be re­minded of this.

Ly­d­den has be­come a favourite with race fans

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.