Patrick McClughan, together with his teammate John Harrison, won last weekend’s final round of the Radical European Masters Championship at Jerez in Spain. Driving a Radical SR8 prototype sportscar, Patrick dominated the second half of the race to claim a convincing victory ahead of a quality field of drivers.
Patrick joined Jersey-based John Harrison and the Nielsen Racing Team to take part in the three-race weekend at the former Spanish Grand Prix venue. It was also an opportunity for the 20-year old from Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland to showcase his abilities before the 2017 season.
In warm Autumn sunshine that saw temperatures reach the upper 20s, the on-track activity began on Friday (28th October) with two, one-hour, Free Practice sessions. Even though both drivers were acclimatising themselves to the car – with John having not driven it for more than a year and Patrick not since the start of the season – and, with the team making adjustments to the set-up, the two drivers were still able to post lap times that were second and third fastest in the two sessions.
It was a similar story for Saturday morning’s two qualifying sessions, which meant Patrick started from P3 on the grid that afternoon for the first of the one-hour races. A busy first lap saw Patrick overtaken by multiple Olympic Champion Chris Hoy, who has swapped from two wheels to four to fulfil his passion to race, now he has stopped competitive riding.
Although Patrick regained the place, it wasn’t long before he felt the brakes fading and consequently, had to adjust his driving style accordingly. Even so, he was able to retain his third position before handing over to John for the second half of the race. But with the ambient temperature further compromising the brake and tyre performance, the eventual sixth place finish was as good a result as they could have hoped for in the circumstances.
The fine weather continued for Sunday and the first of the day’s two races, with John starting for P2. Another busy first lap saw him drop a place to third, but a determined drive saw him stay in contention with the two cars ahead of him. Patrick took over at the mid-race pit stop with the lead in his sights, but with tyre wear taking its toll he found it difficult to maintain the front-running pace. Then, with just ten minutes to go, a terminal engine problem brought his and John’s race to a premature and disappointing end.
With only a few hours at their disposal, the Nielsen team worked hard to ensure the Radical was back to 100% before the third and final race. John was first to drive and, starting from P3, he hung on to the position and again, stayed in contention with the leaders. A well-executed pit stop saw Patrick join the race in the lead and, with the car, tyres and brakes all working perfectly, he was able to extend his advantage during the next 20-or-so minutes to nearly 20 seconds.
Aware of the significant gap between him and his closest pursuer – fellow Brit Alex Kapadia – Patrick was able to ease back for the final few laps and, following a copybook performance by both drivers and the team, he crossed the line to win the final Radical European Masters Championship race of the season and underline his position as one of the UK’s top up-and-coming young drivers.
“It’s great to have finished off the season with a win”, said Patrick. “I have to take my hat off to John for getting up to speed so quickly, having not driven the car for over a year. I must thank and congratulate the team for their efforts. They did a great job setting up and fixing the car and it was a pleasure to drive. Although we had a few issues to start with, I’m delighted with the outcome of the weekend and I really enjoyed the experience.”
Patrick is now looking at a number of opportunities for next year, with the view of contesting a whole season in sportscar racing. An announcement confirming his 2017 campaign is expected to be made in the next few weeks.