The Radical Australia Cup returns to Highlands this weekend for its season finale after a successful debut last year.
“I wouldn't say it was a risk coming here last year but it is a long way to come,” says Chris Papadopoulos, Racing and Engineering Manager for Radical Australia. “But we had confidence in Tony Quinn and the team here at Highlands. They know how to put on a good show. We love the place, not only the race track, but also the location. It’s a racing holiday for a lot of our guys.”
The Radical Australia Cup has been running for eight years and it’s earned a reputation as a fast, competitive and affordable category for gentlemen drivers.
“The top speed around Highlands will be around 240 km/h but it’s not all about speed with the Radical,” says Papadopoulos. “They’re somewhere between a grown-up go-kart and a Le Mans car and while they’re pretty easy to drive, you still have to be a good driver to get the best out of them.”
The 2017 Radical Australia Cup will come down to the wire at Highlands, with 2016 title rivals Peter Paddon and Oliver Smith again in contention for the coveted title. Paddon has his third-consecutive Cup title well within his grasp after taking a season-high seven wins from eight starts to be 64-points clear of Smith with 93-points still up for grabs at Highlands, including pole and fastest lap points.
Last year, Paddon’s pole time was just over a second off the pole-sitting 600-horsepower twin-turbo V8 McLaren of experienced New Zealander Craig Baird in the Highlands 101 GT3 event, whilst in the race, Paddon’s best was just nine-tenths of a second slower than the thundering 6.3-litre V8 Mercedes-AMG of Dominic Storey, numbers which put the lightweight open cockpit 1500cc naturally aspirated 4-cylinder SR3 into a whole new perspective.
“They’re a lot of fun to drive and we add in a lot of perks for the guys,” says Papadopoulos. “We have driver coaches at Highlands this weekend, including Tony D’Alberto who finished on the podium at Bathurst a few weeks ago. They’ll talk to the guys, analyse their data and help them go faster. It gives the guys a feeling of what it’s like to be real pro driver.”
Papadopoulos will be a busy man at Highlands, doubling as the engineer for the Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-Benz which Peter Hackett and Kiwi driver Dom Storey piloted to victory at the Hampton Downs 500 two weeks ago. That keeps them in the hunt to steal the Australian Endurance Championship title from Kiwi pair Tim Miles and Jaxon Evans who have dominated the series this season.
“Peter and Dom finished second last year in the championship so it would be nice to go one better this year,” says Papadopoulos.
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