MOTOR RACING: Balfe clinches championship cup in final Radical round

Shaun Balfe crosses the finish line at Snetterton.
Shaun Balfe crosses the finish line at Snetterton.

CAYTHORPE racing driver Shaun Balfe ended his 2011 season in the best possible way by clinching the Radical UK Cup with driving partner Roger Bromiley at Snetterton at the weekend.

The former Caterham and GT champion can now add the Radical crown to his tally after taking a second and third place in the two races at the Norfolk circuit, in a season that saw him also finish runner-up in the Radical Euro Cup.

Shaun said: “It’s been a hard fought but great season. It hasn’t really sunk in yet but we’ve worked really hard for it all season and we had to work hard again to finally clinch it, but it’s great to take another championship.

“If you’d said to me at the start of the year that we’d finish runner-up in the European championship and take the UK title I might have laughed. We only took in the first couple of European rounds to see what the racing was like and ended up doing every race and came close to winning it.”

Shaun and Roger went into the final round leading the championship but knew that they had to produce two top-drawer results to take victory. With a smaller number of cars on the grid for the season finale only half the number of points were available, so Shaun and his team decided on an inspired strategy during qualifying to try and gain the best advantage in the two 40-minute races.

Throughout most of the season the quicker drivers in each car have qualified and started the races together, so Shaun and Roger decided to swap places, giving Shaun the chance to take pole position for the opening race, along with an extra championship point and the best chance of taking a top three finish in the first race.

Roger then took third place on the grid for the second race, which gave the pair a great start to the weekend.

Shaun said: “We’ve changed our qualifying order a couple of times during the season, usually in the European rounds, to try different strategies. We knew we had to try everything this weekend and it out-foxed a few of the other teams and gave us a good start. From then on we had to race for it though.”

In the opening race Shaun was able to hold on to the lead until he handed over to Roger at just over halfway. A solid stint allowed him to bring the car home in second place, one place ahead of the two thirds they knew they would need against their championship rivals.

In the second race, Roger managed to avoid a first corner incident and settled into his third place grid position. Just before the halfway point he started to come under increasing pressure and dropped back to fourth place, just before diving into the pit-lane to hand over to Shaun.

Just as Shaun took over, the first of his championship rivals pitted behind him, allowing him to make up ground on track. As the clock ticked down, he maintained an incredibly quick pace, closing down his rival ahead, but stayed neat and tidy to keep the third place that was enough to end the season in the best possible way.

Shaun said: “I’ve driven the Radical SR8 for the last few seasons and it really is an awesome car. It’s so quick and you can really put some rubber down with it. To be able to take a title in one, and race on the tracks we have this year, has been fantastic.”