I’ve often heard the phrase ‘Racing is in the Blood’, and with many second-generation driver either in or around Formula 1, it’s not hard to see why. For many though, success can come at many levels and away from the media limelight, a familiar name in motorsport has collected his maiden British crown.
Fresh off of winning the UK-based Radical SR1 Cup, racing rookie Jerome de Sadeleer sat down with The Checkered Flag to discuss his season so far, potential LMP3 expansion and his relationship with his brother Hugo de Sadeleer.
“It feels great!” said de Sadeleer, just hours after winning the championship at Snetterton.
“I’m from a motorsport family, my brother and mother races and I moved to the states to study and work for eight years, so as a result I found it difficult to race. So when I moved back I took the opportunity to start racing.
“I wanted a beginner championship so I looked at Radicals and Caterhams, but what appealed to me here was the high downforce car of the SR1 and it’s really quick. It’s a lot quicker than you think it is because it’s a beginner series. You always feel like you’re going fast which is awesome.
“I trained quite a bit at the beginning, my goal was always to win it, so actually winning is awesome.”
While his brother might be making headways in Sportscars, Jerome had few links at the start of the year, but found solace working with 360 Racing, for his debut campaign.
“For me with work it was important to arrive and know stuff was ready. So I worked with Marco the team owner, who also runs in LMP3 and a couple other things, but is well-known for running Radicals, I made a great choice.
In the end, De Sadeleer collected 300 points in total, 71 ahead of nearest rival James Pinkerton. The 360 Racer by no means had an easy run to the title though, admitting that good luck was on his side in the final round.
“…shout out James Pinkerton who’s at the Radical Works Team and out-pulled me in the last two races, which is brilliant for him.
“He got really unlucky, broke a chain in the race putting him out of contention. I was a little bit ahead, so it would have been difficult for him, but you never know. In the end, I just had to finish in the top five for both races.
Looking ahead, he didn’t completely reject the idea of a move into Europe, but admitted it may not be as clear-cut as many believe.
“My brother runs in LMP2 and I’ve had a couple of people push me towards the LMP3 route. In fact I got a call this afternoon (27 August) saying; ‘Hey, we’ve lined up a test for you in P3, so let us know when you want to do it?’
“Everybody is asking me; ‘what are you gonna do next year, are you gonna do SR1 again?’ and I was being cagey saying; ‘Lets see what happens with this season, I want to try to win it’. So now I’ve won it, I think I’ll do everything I can to run in SR3. Ideally, spend next year learning and after that, win it.
“It’s not easy. The cars are not significantly faster in terms of straight-line speed or acceleration, but it’s a whole other world in terms of lateness of breaking, cornering and the way they drive on slicks. A lot of people tell me, you have to relearn how to drive the car.”
Racing might still be on the cards though in 2017 in the Radical SR3 Challenge; “I’m going to try for an SR3 drive at the last round in October, so I’m working with Radical to make that possible, at least before I buy a car.”
Jerome has achieve a lot in just one year, but knows it may be unlikely that the crowds will ever remember his name over his brother, Hugo’s. Despite this, he remains close, even providing assistance for the 20-year-old as he moves away from single-seaters and into the European Le Mans Series.
“He’s been doing this forever, since he was seven.” started Jerome.
“First time I really got involved with his racing was late last year when he signed for an English-speaking team [United Autosports]. Our dad had managed to work with Tech 1 Racing [Formula Renault 2.0 team] as they were French, but I stepped in and helped him find some sponsorship and negotiate contracts.”
On the flip side, Jerome has seen his brother help him out with sponsorship and driving style as well, with Hugo even jumping into the Radical car this year.
“This season, I’ve had a tendency to overdrive the car, so I’ve had to hold myself back. When I think of Hugo, he’s been in the most competitive single-seater series in Europe, so I thought I could be as quick as him.
“When I saw him jump in to the SR1, I saw him break-balance the car put it on the limit, he’s a real pro, so I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drive that way.”
Despite keeping off the radar of the watchful eye, De Sadeleer admits he wouldn’t have it any other way, choosing instead to live a more peaceful life.
“I live in London and the beauty of the Radical championship is that every single round, apart from Spa, is a two-hour drive from my house, so balancing with work and young fiancée, it keeps everybody happy, especially her!
“As for European series’, today in my life, it doesn’t fit. So I’m happy they have a great championship like this in the UK.”
On Wednesday, Radicals announced that the SR1 series would launch a Shootout Scholarship as part of their promotion for the 2018 season. The prize, worth £45,000 would give the winner a chance to race for free in the SR1 Cup.
The competition was open to any driver over 17 with an MSA licence. Successful applicants would be invited to test the second generation SR1 machine at Rockingham, along with other on-track evaluations before being judged by the panel of experts. Entries close on 4 October 2017.