Anthony and Barry Gates ended their year successfully winning the 2007 Radical SR3 Enduro British Championship title at Brands Hatch!
Going into the weekend the pair had a 23 point lead, over 'Team RPM' team mate Phil Bailey and his driving partner, newly crowned 2007 British GT Champion Bradley Ellis. In a closely fought contest, the pair did what they had to do in order to take the championship, knowing a 3rd and 4th place would be suffice to win, regardless of what the competition did.
It was a very tight affair in the SR3's, with Anthony and Bradley battling for the Pole Position. The pair traded the top slot throughout the session, inching hundreths here and there until Ellis finally cemented his position with a fantastic 44.8, two tenths faster than Anthony. Former Formula Vauxhall Champion Wayne Douglas made a welcome return to racing on British soil - his first visit to Brands for 12 years - when he was racing against Dunn's now-partner Amanda Whitaker! Sharing with Jeff Collier, Douglas was also in the battle for the SR3 top slot, having causing a stir by setting the fastest time in practice and lined up just a tenth from Dunn in 3rd place, ahead of regulars Paul Thomas, James Harrison and Nigel Greensall.
Paul Thomas took the lead at the start, but it was short lived as the red flags were shown due to Martin Schlaeppi's stricken SR3 at the approach to Graham Hill bend - a victim of first lap contact with Jean-Lou Rihon. At the restart, Phil Bailey held the lead from Paul Thomas with Barry just behind and James Harrison and Jeff Collier hot on their heels.
Barry made a decisive moved on Phil Bailey, diving up the inside of his championship rival at Druids on lap 9. He held a close 2nd to Paul Thomas knowing he was in a strong position points position and really showed the maturity he has developed through the year. He handed the car to Anthony and although there was a longer than normal pitstop due to a starting problem, causing them to drop to 4th. Anthony was soon back in 2nd place behind Thomas and treaded carefully through the traffic, ever mindful of the potential points at stake. This allowed James Harrison and the pursuing Bradley Ellis to close, but he held his nerve, just slipping past a backmarker to give himself some breathing space on the last lap with Bradley nipping past James to finish 3rd.
Into the final race, Barry & Anthony knew they just had to collect 5 points - a 13th place in class - and the championship was theirs. With this in mind, they opted to start from the pitlane to avoid any first lap collisions. In hindsight it was a wise decision...their main rival Phil Bailey was hit from the rear by James Saggers at Clearways on their first lap, breaking his rear suspension and with it loosing any hope of winning the title. So Barry and Anthony were champions!
Anthony radio'd through to Barry the good news and the clear signal "GO FOR IT!" which Barry did! Although he'd lost approximately 20 seconds on the field due to starting from the pitlane, Barry got his head down, lapping faster than the class leaders and soon was climbing back up the order.
However as the leading SR8's began to close in to lap the SR3's, being anxious not to get in their way now that his title was decided, Barry looked one too many times in the mirrors and approaching Paddock Hill bend missed his braking point and with it a graceful end to the campaign!
"That was the biggest anticlimax possible!" laughed Anthony after the race. "However, we worked hard for the title this year which is my first National Championship win and Barry's too - which isn't surprising considering it's his first full year of racing!".
"The decision to start from the pitlane may have looked odd and it probably cost us any chance of going for a win but we wanted to reduced all the risks to the title and it worked out fine."
ALL PHOTO'S COURTESY OF OLIVER READ