Austin’s home of Formula 1, Circuit of the Americas, played host to three days of on-track action from 32 Blue Marble Radical Cup North America drivers as they joined Porsche Sprint Challenge and USF Juniors in an all USAC-sanctioned series event. Significant testing on Friday preceded practice, qualifying and three 40-minute races over Saturday and Sunday. Aside from soaking up all that Austin has to offer, drivers were able to beat the heat off-track in the Radical hospitality suite and were treated to stunning cuisine and the opportunity to sample advanced SimCraft simulators.
Robert Rossi (WISKO Racing / Carpet Giant) led the Platinum class in Saturday’s practice with a 2m07.452s, however come qualifying Jon Field (ONE Motorsport / Bricker Home Design) stole the show with a 2m07.097s, bettering the times he set the week before whilst dominating the GT Celebration’s PCL class in his Radical SR10 and the nearing the time set by his coach Kenton Koch that weekend, a 2m09.402s.
Rossi completed the front row, while hometown hero Judd Miller (ESSES Racing / Radical Texas) earned third on the grid. Steve Jenks (Group-A Racing / Audien Hearing) and Willie Putrajaya (ESSES Racing / Radical Texas) were fourth and fifth fastest respectively.
A clean start in race one saw multiple drivers go wide on the exit of turn one to avoid any contact, with Jon Field maintaining the lead. Overcoming an early caution period for the stranded Willie Putrajaya, Field held off the advances of Judd Miller early on to take the Platinum class win by more than seven seconds.
After several attempts, Miller was able to get by points leader Rossi for second place, adding another podium to his resume. Rossi finished a comfortable third, while Jason Plotke (CROWN Concepts / Apex Motor Club) got the better of Jim Booth (WISKO Racing / McDonald’s) after they battled tooth and nail for fourth.
Meanwhile race one had become total heartache for Steve Jenks. Early in the race he inadvertently pressed the pit limiter, dropping him from second to fourth, following which he fought his way back past Rossi and Miller to regain second place. However, as he closed in on Field, a fuel pressure issue left him stranded with seven minutes remaining. Nevertheless, Jenk’s race pace earned the pole position for race two.
Competing on his home track, Miller was able to score the Platinum class victory in the second race of the weekend after perennial frontrunner Rossi’s rear diffuser started dragging, presumably from running over a track limits ‘turtle’.
Jenks rebounded from his disappointing finish on Saturday to find his way back to the podium in the second position, proving his claim to be in contention for the championship.
In his first race weekend in the SR10 after stepping up from the PRO 1340 ranks, Jason Plotke (CROWN Concepts / Apex Motor Club), co-owner of the Apex Motor Club, joined Miller and Jenks on the podium. He attributed his result to being able to apply the lessons learnt from countless laps in a SimCraft rig using iRacing’s virtual SR10. Booth added his second top-five result in as many races on the weekend as he finished just ahead of former American Le Mans Series competitor Field, who spun in Turn 19 on the opening lap before recovering to fifth.
Shocking the paddock, Rossi failed to show for the grid in race three, opening the door for the other Platinum class drivers to challenge for the championship. Continuing his impressive rise throughout the weekend, Jenks was back on the podium in race three, this time on top as he managed to secure the race three victory and turned the tide in the chase for the Platinum class title.
Field rebounded from his P5 result in race two to climb back on the podium blocks in the second position and added some valuable points to his championship chase. Taking advantage of both mistakes and issues of others, series stalwart Booth rose to the third position on track and celebrated on the podium with both Jenks and Field as Plotke added his second top-five result of the day with a brilliant drive to fourth. Scott Wagner (Scott Wagner Racing / Scott Wagner Integrate Medicine), a confirmed driver for the Radical Cup World Finals in Las Vegas later this year, showed his drive to compete at the front of the Platinum class, crossing the line in fifth and building great momentum towards the final round at the Sonoma Raceway in a few weeks.
2021 Overall Champion Gustavo Rafols (WISKO Racing) came to race this weekend. After setting times some two seconds faster than his Pro 1500 rivals during practice, Rafols took pole position easily with a 2m10.337s before continuing his dominance in the first race. Rafols outraced and outpaced several of the more powerful Platinum class cars to finish fourth outright and take the Pro 1500 win by more than twenty seconds.
Returning to the series in style, Gregg Gorski (ONE Motorsports / Smokebuddy) was best of the rest, while Aurora Straus (Group-A Racing / Richard Mille) earned her fourth podium result in as many races, driving from fifth to third. David Flynt (OMPT Racing) and Mark Allen (ONE Motorsports) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rafols made it two-for-two on the weekend as he once again dominated the Pro 1500 class. He was again in a different zip code when the checkered flag flew, with a 19s margin of victory. Gorski scored his second podium result of the weekend, while Alain Derzie was able to climb to third after an epic battle with Straus. Running side-by-side through the stadium section and the carousel, Derzie edged ahead to snag the final step of the podium while Straus had to settle for fourth. Palmer Miller (Esses Racing / Radical Texas) finished fifth, collecting points in his quest for this year’s the Pro 1400 title.
Rafols completed a perfect sweep of the weekend. The reigning Pro 1500 champion finished an amazing third outright as he took the win. Derzie claimed the title of bridesmaid, finishing 17 seconds in arrears of Rafols, while Miller had a spirited drive to find his way back to the podium and solidify his intentions of taking the class championship. His teammate Kent Myers was sixth on track overall but fourth in class, while Gorski made it a trio of top-five results over the weekend ending his COTA event in fifth.
Mike Anzaldi, championship point leader heading into the round, was outpaced by Chris McMurry (Crown Concepts / Prisma) with a 2m14.305s for the class pole, while David Alban (WISKO Racing / RingPower.com) and Reid Stewart (Group-A Racing / Fasano Textiles) showed their pace to clock the third and fourth quickest laps of the session ahead of Anzaldi’s title rival Austin Riley (Racing with Autism / SparkPower / Lincoln Electric).
McMurry converted pole to take his third win of the season. Mike Anzaldi (RYNO Racing / Emmett’s Energy) crossed the line second to extend his championship lead by a further five points as he narrowly beat Austin Riley. Riley drove from fifth on the grid to finish third to put a ton of pressure on Anzaldi late in the race. Keeping his machine in the top five, David Alban (WISKO Racing / RingPower.com) was able to hang on to fourth just ahead of Vince Switzer (CROWN Concepts / SwissTeknik) who drove from eighth to fifth.
Anzaldi looked set to further increase his points lead in race two after taking the lead on the opening lap before a gearbox sensor failure left him stranded on the exit of Turn 12. Not only did this open the door for Apex Motor Club’s McMurry to take his second win of the weekend, but Riley to regain the lead in the points standings with a solid second place. In third, Reid Stewart celebrated with McMurry and Riley on the podium. Vince Switzer earned his second top five result of the weekend as Ben Blander (Team Stradale) made an appearance in the front quintet crossing the stripe in fifth.
On a mission to regain his points deficit, Anzaldi rocketed through the field off the line, to find himself behind McMurry. Helping his points tally, Riley was stuck behind Stewart after the round of mandatory pitstops, and it appeared as though Anzaldi would be within a point or so of reclaiming the lead of the championship. However, in the closing stages, Riley found his way past Stewart, putting pressure on Anzaldi to try for the win. A multi-lap battle ensued, with Anzaldi attacking particularly hard during the final lap resulting in the pair running side by side through the stadium section, with Anzaldi inching through Turn 15 before a spin saw victory slip through Anzaldi’s fingers. This left McMurry to equal Rafols with a hat-trick of victories, while Riley snuck through to finish second and crucially extend his point lead over Anzaldi, who recovered to stand on final step of the podium.
Multi-time podium winner Straus had contact mid-race, causing damage to her car and forcing her to retire. Heading to the finale weekend, Riley has a slim advantage over Anzaldi with all to play for. Stewart and Switzer cemented their names in the fourth and fifth positions in race three and will look to improve on those results in California in a few weeks.
All three class championships, as well as the outright title which awards a one-off factory drive in England, remain undecided as the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America series heads to Sonoma Raceway October 28-30 for its season finale. Radical competitors from across the Americas and around the globe will then converge on Las Vegas and Spring Mountain Motor Resort for the inaugural Radical World Finals November 8-13. Stay tuned to the Radical Cup social media channels over the next couple of weeks as we preview each title chase.