Falb and Menczer crowned 2014 Radical Cup USA champions
Ryan Carpenter and Todd Slusher may have won the final race of the 2014 season, but John Falb became the first SR3 title winner to take Outright Championship honors while Jesse Menczer won the SR8 title and was named Rookie of the Year.

The Radical Cup's 2014 season ended in a thriller at Monticello Motor Club, Sept 11-13. Heading into the weekend only ten points separated the three drivers capable of winning the SR8 class title, Gerhard Watzinger, Jesse Menczer and Ryan Carpenter. As the event progressed qualifying and fastest race lap bonus points became ever critical. Rain added to the tension and the challenge as each driver tried to lay claim to the SR8 championship- just one of four titles on the line. In the end it was Englishman Jesse Menczer, who reigned supreme and was recognized as Rookie of the Year, while John Falb created history by becoming the first SR3 class champion to also be awarded Outright Championship.

While John Falb only needed to start the final three races to clinch the SR3 title over George Kurtz, the SR8 championship was still very much a tinderbox. Reigning champion Gerhard Watzinger was only ten points clear of both rookie Jesse Menczer and Ryan Carpenter, who were tied in second place heading into the Monticello event.

Menczer had more wins, but his season had also been plagued with penalties. On the other hand it was Watzinger's consistency that had put him into the points lead. However, a broken throttle cable and limited running meant the 2013 champ was immediately on the back foot during Friday's qualifying session.

Meanwhile Menczer started his weekend in style, taking pole from Carpenter while Watzinger salvaged third. Not an inch separated the front row heading to the green, but Menczer held onto the lead through the first turns, and never looked back. Setting the fastest lap of Friday's race (2:12.950) he took victory, to score maximum points from Round 16. Keeping his own championship hopes alive, Ryan Carpenter fended off a late race charge by Watzinger to finish in second. The result meant Menczer was now just a single point behind Watzinger, with Carpenter only six points further back.

Behind the top three, a second battle developed between Monticello members Adam Merzon, Ari Strauss, and Denis O'Leary. The trio traded places numerous times, with O'Leary eventually coming out on top to finish fourth, followed home by Merzon and Strauss.

Multiple packs also developed in the SR3 class with Philip Bloom, Naj Husain, John Thompson and Kevin Lundquist all battling for the minor placings. Ahead, Oliver Prinz von Anhalt clawed his way onto the back of Todd Slusher, who on to take an impressive third place. Taking the win and fastest lap (2:18.122), John Falb extended his lead in the SR3 championship over George Kurtz, who finished second.

Come Saturday morning, the threat of rain loomed over Monticello, but qualifying remained dry. Falb continued his flawless weekend taking the class pole and bonus point as did Menczer, who was now tied for the SR8 championship lead. While the SR3 grid remained much the same as Friday, the big story out of qualifying was Watzinger's return to the front row of the SR8 field after knocking Carpenter back to third. This was key as Watzinger would have to win at least one of the remaining two races to win the championship.

Then to add to the drama the heavens opened over Monticello. In extremely wet and difficult conditions John Falb starred in the season's penultimate race. He set the outright fastest lap (2:29.086), dominated the SR3 class and stormed up through the SR8 field, passing all but Menczer and Watzinger to finish third outright.

Round 18's SR3 podium was a carbon copy of Friday's race, with George Kurtz taking a solid second place, and Todd Slusher finishing third. Both Kurtz and Slusher had also lapped in the 29s. John Thompson also impressed in the trying conditions, finishing fourth in the SR3 class, while Naj Husain and Philip Bloom completed the top six.

The tricky conditions didn't stop Jesse Menczer from continuing his dream run either. Menczer built up a twelve second lead over SR8 rival Watzinger, but the pair continued to push in a race to score the all important fastest lap bonus point. Initially it looked as though Menczer would claim it, but as a dry line formed late in the race Watzinger went quicker. However, neither man could match the pace of hometown hero Ari Straus, who found his groove in the final two laps to set a 2:27.512 and score the critical point. Straus's late race charge also secured him third place behind Watzinger and Menczer, who won his ninth race of the season.

The big upset out of Round 18 was Carpenter. His title hopes for 2014 had been dashed by a loose wheel, possibly created in the chaos to ready the car for wet weather. And so SR8 championship was down to two men, Menczer now leading Watzinger by four points. Only a reverse grid race in the rain now separated each man from glory. To clinch two consecutive titles Watzinger would have to win the final race of the season and set the fastest lap.

With lap times from the previous race setting the inverted grid, the race also gave a number of mid-field drivers the chance to star.

Carpenter led the SR8 field to the green with Adam Merzon alongside him. Starting on the second row, it initially looked as though Watzinger might get an advantage over his title rival, but it was Menczer who slotted in behind Carpenter as they exited the first turns.

Merzon was the first victim of the rain, spinning before the long left-handed sweeper, but the rest of the SR8 field managed to negotiate the first lap without incident. Menczer then momentarily found the front, but Carpenter responded by out braking him to regain the lead.

With Watzinger unable to respond to the pace of the lead duo, a sizable gap developed and perhaps knowing the title was now his Menczer stopped attacking. Nevertheless, Carpenter was in a class of his own, setting the fastest SR8 lap of the race (2:27.210) on his way to claiming his fourth victory of the year.

With second place Jesse Menczer (393 points) secured the SR8 championship by just seven points over Gerhard Watzinger (386), who finished third. It was an outstanding achievement for Menczer in his first year of national Radical Cup competition, and earned him 2014 Rookie of the Year honors. Carpenter (379) finished the season third in the SR8 class standings.

Naj Husain and Roni Dersovitz shared the front row of the SR3 field for the final race. While Husain took the early lead, SR3 points leader John Falb started carving his way through from the back of the pack, with George Kurtz in tow. A few laps later John Thompson came unstuck, grazing the wall before re-joining. However, the tricky conditions didn't take a real casualty until lap seven when John Falb crashed hard into tire wall on the exit of turn nine, while running second to Todd Slusher.

Amazingly, the same fate struck Kurtz on the final lap. He went off on the same corner while running third, advancing Naj Husain back into a podium finish. Philip Bloom completed an outstanding drive from fifth on the grid to finish second behind race winner Todd Slusher.

Slusher's victory, nor Falb or Kurtz's crashes had an effect on the SR3 title. Falb's mistake was nothing more than a minor blemish on an otherwise almost perfect season. He had finished on the podium in all but two of the races he contested, taking a total of eleven wins for the year. Falb (431 points) clinched the SR3 championship convincingly over George Kurtz (406) and Todd Slusher (370).

Most importantly, Falb's Monticello points haul had secured him the coveted outright championship, awarded to the driver with the most points of either class. He is the first SR3 driver to win the title.

Click for race results and championship results. For further information on the Radical Cup USA visit RadicalCupUSA.com .


 

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