Alex Cascatău fights adversity en route to Zandvoort podium and seals the title in the CN category
BS Racing by Baticonsult was well aware, coming into last weekend’s pair of races at Circuit Park Zandvoort that it would be faced with an uphill battle. With the team’s main car, the Norma M20 FC, left back at base on the jacks due to a shortage of parts, it was back to the Radical SR3 RSX for Alex Cascatău and Alain Berg.
Following the first two rounds of the season, BS Racing by Baticonsult sat at the top of the standings in the competitive CN category. Cascatău and Berg scored top honors in three of the four races meaning they led the way in the standings with a 28-point advantage ahead of Deldiche Racing’s Tim Joosen. With four races still to go, it looked like Cascatău was very much in the hunt for the title in his debut season in the Supercar Challenge.
The second-to-last round would take place at Zandvoort, the most famous track in the Netherlands and, as it would transpire, one where there’s little leeway when it comes to noise-related transgressions. A tough 98 dB noise limit saw Deldiche Racing decide to skip the round entirely and BS Racing by Baticonsult was facing the same exact issue. During the pre-season tests at Zolder, the Norma M20 FC with its Honda N/A proved to be really loud – as much as 10 dB above the sound limit.
But Cascatău and Berg knew they had to show up at the track bordered by the dunes since they could, if all went according to plan, consolidate their position in the standings. The team thus got to work fitting mufflers to the Norma in a bid to make it quieter but that wasn’t the only operation keeping BS Racing by Baticonsult’s mechanics stuck in the garage.
Following the previous round at Assen, the engine needed to be rebuilt as there was an issue with the oil feed. Unfortunately, due to the global situation, some parts were missing which meant that the Norma would see no action at the North Sea. However, Berg and Cascatău continued unabated with their plans to race at Zandvoort and the solution presented itself in the form of Berg’s 2019 championship-winning Radical SR3 RSX.
The switch presented Cascatău with an even steeper learning curve as he’d only driven a Radical – albeit a standard SR3 – for a few laps at Zolder and, on top of that, he had no mileage on Zandvoort. To make matters worse, the weekend got off to a tough start.
FP & Qualy
In the first free practice session, the team discovered that the Radical, which hadn’t turned a wheel since Berg drove it to the overall Supercar Challenge title last year, suffered from a loss in oil pressure. The Luxembourg native tried to turn some laps in that first session on Saturday but to no avail. The engine was soon disassembled and FP2 was skipped entirely. Cascatău finally got his first feel of Zandvoort in qualifying.
Driving a car equipped with old slicks and that was set up to run on a dry track, Cascatău still managed to reel in a 1:41.735, the second fastest time of the session. He was only beaten by Bob Herber in the more powerful BODA Racing Huracan Super Trofeo but the Dutch driver drove across the white line at pit exit and his time was disallowed.
The pole position (and the extra point) took the team by surprise and it also pushed Cascatău’s tally of poles up to five. The sixth pole escaped him because Alex’s second-fastest lap was only good for third on the grid of Sunday’s one-hour + 1 lap race, behind both Herber and Hein Koopman in the Koopman Racing BMW Z4 GT3.
Saturday’s first race took place in dreadful conditions. The 23-strong field got underway behind the safety car that led everybody around for a few laps before the green flags were finally waved. Knowing that Herber’s superior horsepower would allow the Lamborghini driver to slingshot past on the way down to Tarzan, Cascatău accelerated at the very last moment and was then able to stick to the inside line and block Herber on the exit of Tarzan.
All the good work at the start came to nothing a couple of laps later when Cascatău spun in that same Tarzan hairpin. The Romanian kept the engine running, though, and got back going within seconds, although only after he’d lost the lead with a couple of TCR examples moving to the fore.
Entangled in a fight with the also recovering Herber, Cascatău narrowly avoided the Dutchman’s spinning Lamborghini soon after. Herber went around in the rather slow Vodafonebocht left-hander and, merely two laps later, Cascatău followed suit with a spin of his own in that very bend. This time, however, the car backed itself into the gravel which required the towing truck to come out and get Alex back on his way.
Given the five minutes lost in the process, Alain took over the car in last place and was able to improve a couple of positions, climbin up to 20th spot until the end of the race. He did, however, post quicker times than Cascatău’s with the track drying up in the final sequences of the race.
The conditions ahead of Sunday’s race posed a tricky conundrum that BS Racing by Baticonsult had to solve. While the track was wet when the cars rolled onto the grid, there was no rain forecasted and some teams went for slicks while others stuck to the wets. Berg’s Radical was among those that started the race on wets and that allowed him to take the lead and stay there for a few laps until the track dried up and Herber’s slicks began to show their effectiveness.
When Berg finally pitted to hand the car over to Alex, the No. 614 Radical sat second overall and first in the CN class respectively. During the pit stop, the team switched to medium compound slicks but the tire change was sluggish due to a lack of personnel. This put Alex on the back foot as he rejoined the track down in ninth place before recovering all the way up to third. He then got stuck behind Koopman’s Z4 GT3.
The Dutchman closed the door on the much smaller Radical a number of times, including a somewhat hairy moment going through the Hugenholtz hairpin. In the end, Alex decided that discretion is the better part of valor and drove to a third-place finish in the overall classification which translates into yet another CN class win.
This result highlights the team’s resilience in the face of adversity especially as the oil temperature began to go up towards the end of the second race when Alex decided to drive conservatively to bring it home in one piece. At the time of writing, the results of the third and penultimate round of the championship are still provisional but, mathematically, Cascatău and Berg may well travel to Assen for the season finale with the CN class title already in the bag. The final race weekend is scheduled for 30 October – 1 November.
„We've had a tough weekend this time, but with an amazing outcome at the end of it. My accomodation with the Radical has been the main challenge, and the lack of mileage at Zandvoort showed this time, especially in wet conditions. Coming from a really low point early on Saturday, where we thought we'd just pack up and go home, to taking pole, leading race 1, finishing on the podium in race 2 and ultimately winning the title in class was a real emotional rollercoaster. I'd like to thank my team, Alain and Kevin for their amazing work, also Roxane, Rick, Federico and Patty as well for everything so far this season, this is really everyone's achievement. We're a really small team, but are punching well above our weight. I look forward to racing the Norma again for the last round in Assen, and we'll try to finish strong, on the top step of the podium.”
Full results below
2020 Supercar Challenge Race calendar:
4-6 September | TT Circuit Assen - DTM
25-27 September | TT Circuit Assen - Gamma Racing Day
9-11 October | Circuit Zandvoort - Voorjaars Races
31 October - 1 November | TT Circuit Assen - Hankook Finale races