BSRacing by Baticonsult came into the penultimate round of the 2020 Supercar Challenge season knowing the target was extending its advantage in the standings and that’s exactly what Alain Berg and Alex Cascatău did at Zandvoort last weekend in spite of the treacherous conditions and mechanical problems.
Following the first two rounds of the season, BSRacing by Baticonsult sat at the top of the standings in the competitive CN category. Alain Berg and Alex Cascatău scored top honors in three of the four races which resulted in a 28-point advantage in the standings ahead of Deldiche Racing’s Tim Joosen. With four races still to go, it looked like Berg and Cascatău were very much in the hunt for the title in their debut season in the Supercar Challenge’s CN category.
The second-to-last round took Zandvoort, the most famous track in the Netherlands and, as it would transpire, one where noise limits are taken very seriously. A 98 dB noise limit saw Deldiche Racing decide to skip the round entirely and BSRacing by Baticonsult was faced with a similar decision. As experienced in the pre-season tests at Zolder, the Norma M20 FC with its Honda N/A engine is really loud – approximately 10 dB above the sound limit at the top of the rev range.
Berg and Cascatău knew that they had to show up at the course bordered by the dunes if they really wanted to 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 BSRacing 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 Zandvoort. However, Berg and Cascatău continued unabated with their plans to race near the North Sea and the solution was reverting to Berg’s 2019 championship-winning Radical SR3 RSX.
The switch presented Romanian Cascatău with an even steeper learning curve as he’d only driven a Radical – albeit a standard SR3 – at Zolder and, on top of that, he had never been around Zandvoort in any car. Fortunately, BSRacing by Baticonsult and Alain Berg did have past experience at Zandvoort and that helped Alex get up to speed.
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. Then the engine was disassembled soon after and the car didn’t move an inch during FP2. Due to these circumstances, Cascatău only got his first feel of Zandvoort in qualifying.
As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the weather did its best to interfere with rain affecting most of the sessions on Saturday. Cascatău managed to reel in a 1:41.735, the second fastest time of the unexpectedly dry qualifying session. He was only beaten by Bob Herber in the 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 22-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 in the ensuing laps. Herber went around in the rather slow left-hand hairpin formerly known as Vodafonebocht and, merely two laps later, Cascatău followed suit with a spin of his own in that very place. 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 unable to improve on that 20th spot until the drop of the checkered flag. He did, however, post quicker times than Cascatău’s in the final sequences of the race.
The conditions ahead of Sunday’s had the team choose between wet-weather rubber and slicks. 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 over 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 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. This put Alex on the back foot as he rejoined the race down in ninth place. He did recover all the way up to third before getting 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 Hungeholtz 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.
The 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.
Full results below