Manchester dominates in Monza

Jack Manchester completed one his most impressive weekends of his career to date after a sensational performance in the fifth round of the Radical European Masters in Monza.

Heading to Italy on the back of six podiums in three race weekends, Manchester arrived in Monza as a strong favourite in the Supersport Class and unsurprisingly he fulfilled the high expectations around the 3.6-mile circuit.

Commencing action at the historic ‘Temple of Speed’ on Friday, Jack started proceedings in a style as he topped the timesheets for the first practice session of the weekend. Jack’s 1:56.295 lap time saw him head the session by almost a full-second as he showcased his skill around the high-speed track.

With time still to be found out on track, Jack continued to impress in free practice two as he finished the session in 1st place for the second time on Friday. Improving on his earlier time, Jack’s 1:56.025 was more than two-tenths quicker than his morning’s time and the 19-year old was high on confidence as he entered the weekend.

Qualifying

To determine the starting grid for races one and two, qualifying was split into two twenty-minute sessions with a five-minute break in between. Perfect conditions set the scene for qualifying in Monza and Jack continued his fine Friday form in the first qualifying session. Breaking into the 1:55’s for the first time that weekend, Jack took pole position by over three-tenths as he continued to lead proceedings in Italy.

As some teams switched onto fresh rubber for the second session, Scorpio Motorsport opted to keep Jack on his set of tyres, saving the new rubber for later in the weekend. A tighter second qualifying saw Jack secure a 3rd place start for race two in Monza.

“Pole position always puts a smile on my face and it’s special to do it here in Monza. The team did a great job with the car, it felt really strong out there and I could have gone even quicker looking back on it. It puts in a really strong position so I’m really looking forward to the races.”

Race One

Starting at the front of the pack, Jack got a good start at the rolling start but heading into turn one, disaster struck! An issue with the gearbox actuator saw Jack go from sixth gear to neutral and first place to last – falling back almost fifteen seconds behind everyone.

Eventually finding first gear, Jack was back in the race but the recovery mission was on to try and salvage something from race one. With clear air in front of him, Jack was lapping almost two seconds a lap quicker than the rest of the field and Jack began to catch the pack at a rapid pace.

With nothing to lose, Jack drove right on the limit and this pace was rewarded as he fought back through the field to cross the finishing line in 4thplace – a fantastic result considering the circumstances.

“It’s a real shame to go from P1 to last in 20 metres. A loose bearing in the actuator meant I couldn’t select any gears coming through turn one and I was left in the field’s dust. I eventually found first gear but all race it was in the back of my mind and I was having to be very smooth with my gear changes at the risk of the same happening. In the end, 4th is a good result but it would have been great to convert pole into a win.”

Race Two

Starting the second race in Monza in 3rd place, Jack got a good start and stuck with the leaders through the opening laps of the race. Matching the fastest laps time, Manchester looked extremely strong his Radical SR3 and was applying pressure on the lead cars as the race entered the crucial pitstops.

Jumping the #17 Nielson in the stops, Manchester moved himself into 2nd place and onto the tail of the race leader. Catching the #10 Nielsen Radical at a rapid pace, Jack was putting him under more and more pressure as an overtake look inevitable.

Eventually getting in his slipstream heading down the pit straight, Manchester stuck his nose out to look like he was making a move down the inside but tucked in behind before the corner. This dummy was enough to disrupt the #10 as he locked up and went deep into turn one, opening the door for Jack to sail through and into the lead of the race.

Taking the win at the chequered flag, Manchester crossed the line as the winner of race two after a fantastic performance in front of the large Italian crowds.

“What a great race that was! Back on the top step after all the hard work from myself and the team. The pitstop put us in a really strong position and my pace in the final half of the race was really strong. I kept my head and hooked my laps up so I really feel as if this was well deserved!”

Race Three

Race three almost looked as if it wasn’t going to happen for Jack after the team discovered a problem with the fuel pump. With Radical insisting the part would have to be replaced prior to race three, it was all hands-on-deck as the team and Radical engineers worked tremendously hard to get Jack out to the grid. With Jack sat in the car while work still went on, the team made the cut off time by less than a minute.

With Jack unsure as to whether the issue was resolved, Jack headed out onto the grid where he lined up in first place for the final race of the weekend in Monza. Losing out to the #17 Nielson car at the start of the race, Jack stayed hot his the tail as the pair went toe-to-toe through the opening laps of the race.

With Jack now on new tyres, after saving the set for the final race, Jack’s pace was blistering and it didn’t take long until Jack was in a position to launch an attack. Getting a fantastic run out of Ascari, Manchester flew down the back straight and pulled to the outside heading into the Parabolica. With just inches between the two drivers, Manchester’s perfectly measured overtake saw him fly into the lead of the race and he began to stretch his lead out lap after lap.

Carrying a 35-second success time penalty from his victory in race two, Jack’s consistency saw him posting fastest lap after fastest lap as he stretched his lead at the front of the field. Taking his success time penalty in the stops, Manchester’s sensational driving saw him able to rejoin the field still at the front.

Lapping in the low 1:56’s consistently for the final stretch of the race, Jack crossed the finishing line to take the win by more than 10-seconds and rounded off a dominating performance around the ‘Temple of Speed’.

“Wow! That was a special race and one of the best my career. I really felt in the zone and car felt amazing the entire race. It was a great call by the team to save the fresh rubber for the final race as he definitely paid dividends. We knew it would be tough work with the success penalty we were carrying but that only spurred me on more!”

Barry Mears, Head of the MBP Academy, was extremely impressed with Jack’s performance on and off the race track.

“This weekend showed what a talented driver Jack is. He came to the track, for only his second time, and was the man to beat from the very first session. Jack was extremely unlucky in the first race but showed his professionalism to not let it get him down and he kept his focus like a true professional. A great win in race two was followed up by a memorable performance in the final race and the whole paddock was amazed with the job he did.”

Jack now heads back to England as he returns to Radical Challenge duties in two weeks’ time as the series heads to Snetterton for the final round of the season.