First lap chaos settled into a fine race for D’Ambrose, with hard fought positions in the rest of the Radical field.
After Mike D’Ambrose won Round 2 of the Autobahn Member Racing Radical Cup, he had a target on his back. Jordan Missig had the odds on his side, but D’Ambrose pulled off excellent race craft to secure the top spot. He repeated that podium finish in Round 3.
Round 3 coincided with Springtime Speedfest at Autobahn Country Club, meaning the racers were on the full 3.5 mile configuration of the track. An amazing first lap saw a number of positions shuffled, even in just the first few corners.
Prior podium finisher Mike Anzaldi had a stellar start, lining himself up side by side with pole-sitter D’Ambrose at turn 1. Ryan Kelly would fill the spot vacated by Anzaldi’s quick departure. This shuffling would end up pushing John Zhu wide at the exit of the turn, as the field attempted to try four-abreast on the 40-foot wide circuit.
After the first few turns, D’Ambrose would put the hammer down, and drive away from the field. But Ryan Kelly was close in tow. Those two would end up putting a significant gap on the field, but D’Ambrose had a secure lead, with Kelly, below, in a solid second position.
After a few laps, Anzaldi had dropped out of the mix, and the final podium spot became tightly contested for the remainder of the race between Zhu and Andrew Marks. Despite Zhu’s first lap off-track journey, he was able to hold on to third place. Most of the time.
In a sequence of photos, we can see how Zhu and Marks had a constant over-under battle numerous times per lap.
“I’m actually surprised he didn’t pass me a lap later, I went off at turn 4!”
“I’m actually surprised he didn’t pass me a lap later,” Zhu told us, “I went off at turn 4!” That grassy ride at turn 4 gave Zhu a car full of grass as seen in the photo below. It also allowed Chris Kemp to join in the battle for 3rd place.
Despite all of the cooling ducts being blocked off, Zhu was able to keep the car competitive. He was able to fight off Marks till the checkered flag to a margin of victory of just 0.301. It was really that close.
Not too far behind Zhu and Marks was the battle for 5th, with Kemp and John Mikulski locked in a tight contest. They finished even closer than Zhu and marks, with a gap of just 0.268 between them. Kemp was able to pull off another feat that belies his finishing position; his best lap time of 2:22.244 was the second fastest lap behind D’Ambrose, who took that trophy with a 2:20.473.
Team Stradale’s next race will be a double header at Autobahn on June 5th. Just after Team Stradale will race with the Blue Marble Radical Cup North America series as it visits Elkhart Lake’s Road America. This will run in conjunction with IndyCar, so be prepared to see some sights, sounds and lots of exciting action June 17-20.