Category Archives: Caterham Tracksport

Flat through Eau-Rouge

I’m back on UK soil after the Caterham Motorsport’s yearly foray into Europe and I’ve just about had enough time to reflect on what was an awesome visit to the legendary Cirquit de Spa-Francorchamps.

We only had two sessions testing ahead of the race weekend; far less than normal for a new track. Everything was compressed into a very tight schedule. It’s a track full of fast, committed corners where you have to settle the car quickly and get back to the throttle. The kind of corners I go well around.

However, it’s also got the two longest flat out sections of any track we visit. From La Source all the way to Les Combes and from Stavelot right up to the bus stop.

In a Caterham, this means the track is all about managing the slipstream and racing tactically. Outright pace is not actually required!

I felt comfortable with the track after the first session out and was putting in times at the top of the timing-sheets quite comfortably.

I therefore went into Qualifying putting a little more pressure on myself than I have been used to recently. I knew pole was possible but trying to manage the ideal time when you only have 6 laps to do it is far from easy. This was also complicated by us sharing our qualifying session with the 420Rs.

Extremely early on, I got a super tow from Dan Gore up the Kemel straight. I was squeezed through Les Fanges between Dan and an 420R. This put me off and I made mistakes at the tail end of the lap. However, this lap was good enough for 2nd on the grid and for Dan, was good enough for pole. Without those mistakes… could have had Spa pole on my racing CV – which would have been very nice indeed!

Pole could still have been on, but sadly, a great lap was written off by a very slow car in the bus stop. (preparing for their own lap no doubt, but annoying none the less…)

My ideal lap in Quali was 1.4 seconds faster than the time I ended up with but that just shows how powerful the tow is around this track.

The weather through the whole weekend was threatening and forecasts changed from minute to minute. However, the sun shone down on Race 1 and an earlier cloud burst that caused havoc in the Roadsport race had completely dried by the time we got out on track.

There were over 50 cars set on the grid as the 420Rs were also lined up with us. It’s the first time we’ve run split grids at a Caterham weekend and seeing the sheer amount of cars ahead was pretty daunting. Getting through La Source on the first lap was always going to be a bit of a lottery and so it was for Ben Tuck and Roy Gray who were out after just 400m or so of racing.

I made a great start and was hooked onto the tail end of the 420Rs going up Kemel. But for a safety car due to the first corner incident, it felt like I had the chance at a break from the group.

The safety car seemed to drag on forever and the race only got going again with under 16 minutes remaining of the race.

There followed 16 minutes of frantic action working the tow and trying to figure out how to finish the last lap in the lead. I didn’t quite get it right, sadly, and missed out on the win by just a couple of car lengths but was extremely pleased with 3rd place. Back on the podium after an absence of over a year and it felt great. What was even more encouraging was I felt I had more to bring to race 2.

Sunday was another threatening day according to the forecasts, however, race time was sunny and it certainly looked like we’d be dry throughout.

This time, everyone got through turn one without incident and I settled into the lead pack. A much larger lead pack this time and one that just grew as the race went on.

There’s over 10mph difference between a Caterham Supersport running on it’s own as opposed to running in the tow; so again, the management of this process along the two hugely long flat out stretches of track was an art form.

For 90% of the race, I managed this process OK. I’d switched around my rear tyres ahead of the race to manage the tyre wear and ensure they remained legal after the race, however, they didn’t bed in very quickly so the rear of the car was very lose throughout. I also had one missed gear which sent me tumbling down the field; and one unlucky run up the Kemel straight that also cost me 6 places due to the tow. With, just a touch of patience and planning, I did manage to get back to the front on each occasion. Things were certainly looking good!

As the 30 minutes race period elapsed, Ben Tuck and myself broke very slightly clear of the pack and up the final straight into Balnchimon, I was able to take the lead. I crossed the line thinking I’d finally won another race. However, no chequered flag was waved and it dawned on me that we had another lap to go. Sadly, this lap went badly and while trying to go side by side with Ben Tuck through Pouhon, my rear tyres ran out of grip and I ran out of talent. That left me out wide scrabbling to get back to the track and the whole lead pack through. I was back in 10th or 11th at that point with only 3 real corners left to go.

At Blanchimont, Mike Evans cut across Henry and Christian causing some wings to go flying and a cascade effect of braking and swerving within a pack of 10 drivers. I was at the rear of this and had to jink right around the flat out left hander. I was closer than I would have wanted to having a big accident in the tyre barrier and also no further forward up the field and now with only one corner to go.

The right hander of the Bus Stop Chicane also had a yellow flag for Ian Sparshott’s stranded 420R. However, I noticed that the left hand part of the chicane was showing a green flag. Dan Gore was spun out of the pack ahead of me, having been overtaken under yellows and I just about managed to squeeze through to take a wider line into the left and cut up the inside of several drivers to make it to 7th place over the line. In the stewards office afterwards, Richard Noordhof was unfortunately excluded from the results. I therefore came in with a 6th place finish. Certainly a lot better than it could have been with 3 corners to go but also a huge part of me knew I’d blown another great result.

In my head, I’d won the 30 minute race of Spa – but clearly my old bones can’t cope with 35 minutes!

Well done to everyone for largely keeping it clean and tidy under immense and sustained pressure. I loved the weekend at Spa and am extremely happy to be able to say I’ve not only raced at Spa, but I’ve also had a podium there.

Next up is Brands hatch in just 3 weeks time. Can’t wait!

 

Sold: Caterham 8-Spoke Anthracite 13″ x 6″ Wheels (4)

Now Sold…

I have a set of Caterham 8 Spoke Alloy Wheels (4) for sale. 13″ x 6″

I’m looking for good offers somewhere around £340.

Pictures above tell the whole story as I’ve taken shots of any paint delamination, stone chips or scuffs.

They are all in good condition and a lot of the delamination is on the extreme edge or on the rear inside edge and so is completely invisible once a tyre is fitted.

The wheels are available for pickup in Storrington, West Sussex.

You can use the contact form at the bottom of my Sponsorship Page to contact me about the wheels or contact via Facebook / Facebook messenger.

Caterham Motorsport 2017 Season Preview

The off-season doesn’t get longer but it sure feels like it does as the years go on. This is my 5th time waiting for the season to start and the same strange forces that seem to make the season fly by in a second, warps the winter months into eons.

There is now light at the end of the tunnel though with the official test only a few weeks away and the season proper set to kick off in April. One way I’ve found to while away the time each year is to put together a season preview, with the main runners and riders, as I see it, across the multiple Official Caterham Motorsport Championship series.

2017 Caterham Academy Championship

The bright eyed and bushy tailed Academy class of 2017 have started to take their first forays out on track with their new shiny machines. As ever, there are some that look more prepared than others for the challenge ahead but what’s a sure thing is that none of them truly understand the adventure they are about to set out on.

It wouldn’t be fair at this point to call out any names to watch out for. Firstly, because I’ve only seen a few of the people out on track and secondly, because things change so quickly during this learning period that it would be wildly inaccurate.

There will be surprises along the way and it’s rarely time spent on track that dictates the front of the field. What is a certainty, is that the whole paddock will be watching on trackside, cheering their successes and reminiscing on their own time spent in the Academy.

2017 Caterham Roadsport Championship

Over 40 Academy graduates have signed up for the 2017 Roadsport season. The Autumn trophy at the tail end of the 2016 Academy season was the first time that the Green group and White group got to race each other and it was a fascinating glimpse into what could be a highly competitive year.

The Roadsport car is a great step up from the Academy car. With a much more balanced feel and more grip from the Avon ZZS tyre, every year we see some fresh faces towards the front of the grid who perhaps didn’t get on with the Academy car.

We also tend to see the whole grid close up in lap time. Even those who don’t immediately improve their grid spot are now in reach of those top 10 positions. With the additional 5 mins in race length added to the mix, some more tactical awareness is also a bonus.

So, on the basis of last year, who are the Championship front runners? With Champion Tozer departing, Pete Spencer and Tom John lead the Green Group charge. Pete’s single lap pace was strong throughout 2016 but he’ll need to cut out some of the mistakes, often caused by over exuberant driving. If he can start stringing laps together, he’s going to be a potent force which the others may have to subdue with further drinking challenges in the bar on Friday nights.

Tom John was often the fastest man out on track in race, however, this was equally as often because he was fighting back through the field from a mistake. He’s pounding the tracks again this winter and will definitely figure on the podiums. A consistent season could see him take the trophy.

The White Group duo of Gillias and McCormack were fast from the off and romped away with 6 out of the 7 wins on offer through the Academy. The only other winner was Beardwell at the opening round. However, with James heading off the the 310R series, it could be down to Ben and Jay to hold White honours.

Ben Gillias dodged a bit of a bullet with a Rockingham race restart early in the season but made the most of this luck to hold together a great Championship campaign through the Academy.

Jay McCormack was often downright rapid on track and had some great consistency on show as well. Mostly, it was these two fighting alone out front throughout the season. That means the only question mark hanging over them is if they have had the experience of pack racing and how they’ll cope with that through 2017.

The real interest in the 2017 Roadsport season lies behind these front runners though. Both groups saw a healthy chasing pack through the Academy and watching how everyone settles in is going to be fascinating.

Pete Walters, Marcus Rawlinson, Ian Johnson, Nick Graham and Carl Varney all figured in their race weekends last year and it wouldn’t take a massive leap in speed to be competing for wins.

Philip Bianchi, Eric Tiv and Spencer Wright all regularly competed in tooth and nail fights alongside the departing Beardwell through 2016. They are equipped for the battle and at least a couple will step onto the podium through 2017.

Waiting in the wings are drivers like Anthony Taylor, who had a great tail end to the season last year, and Caroline Everett who has speed but needs to cut out mistakes. Matt Gray and Arnaud Graebert are dark horses to watch as well.

It’s a very hard series to call but I’m going with (subject to him doing some testing!) Jay McCormack’s natural speed. Gillias and Spencer are my shout for the lower steps but they’d better be ready for some hard fights and Tom John certainly could spoil their party.

2017 Seven 270R Championship

After a tense end to the 2016 Roadsport season, the march up the Caterham Motorsport Championship ladder continues on into the 270R class for many of the drivers.

At time of writing, Rui Ferreira and Guy Hawkins are not signed up to be among their number. Given Guy’s spectacular move through the grid in 2016 there will be a few sighs of relief no doubt from some.

Russ Olivant and Dan Quintero have proved themselves to be class acts on track. Able to consistently be at the head of the field and often times stepping on the steps of the podium come the chequered flag. Dan has suffered from some on track incident though and, ultimately, it is this that separates the two when the points get added up.

Behind these two, Rob Watts has turned into quite the competitor. Regularly on the podium in 2016 he’s just missing that elusive win at the moment and if his progress continues upwards, 2017 could be his true breakthrough year.

Cooper, Lloyd and Bevan all show patches of raw pace but equally suffer from slips in form, incidents or get stuck in the midfield. With slightly more space at the top of the field this coming season, it could leave the route to the podium slightly easier for this chasing pack.

Alex Jordan is a good call for dark horse of the championship. With some race experience under his belt now and some of the racing lessons learned, he could push the leading group.

So, my call is for an Olivant championship, Quintero in second and Watts taking third. Racing has a funny way of surprising you though and I can see a great season ahead.

2017 Caterham Supersport Championship

By popular demand, the 2016 specification Supersport Car has retained its place in the official Caterham Motorsport Championship ladder. With over 30 entrants signed up, it’s not hard to see why and with an absolutely spectacular 2016 season, many people want another run at glory.

Now that Will Smith has moved up to the 420R Championship, it may actually leave some winners trophies for others. There’s still plenty of rapid talent at the head of the field though so all podiums will be oversubscribed with contenders.

Henry Heaton will go in as many people favourite. He picked up an impressive string of podiums through 2016 and was only out of contention once through the year. Some uncharacteristic errors in the wet at the final round saw him lose 2nd in the championship. However, mistakes were few and far between. More of the same will see him pick up more wins and be a hot favourite for silverware at all rounds.

Ben Tuck’s run of form at the tail end of the 2016 season was impressive and fairly ominous for the 2017 season. A young gun looking to move up into professional motorsport, sometimes that eagerness to succeed caused issues through the season. However, with a years experience under his belt, and assuming incident can be avoided, there’s no denying his underlying pace and desire to succeed.

Szaruta should be looking forward to 2017. But for a couple of slipped results through 2016, he has proved not only to be a fast and consistent driver but also a great racer. On a grid with so little time between the drivers, Szaruta is only 2 stone away from being able to take the trophy.

Behind this strong triplet, Dickens, Gore and Hutchinson will be looking to bring home results and show the young guns a thing or two.

Dickens in particular has proved he can string a Championship together better than most and after a disappointing 2016 he’s hungrier than ever to get back on the top step. There were still plenty of signs of life in Dickens and he’ll not be making anyone’s life easy at the head of the field.

It’s unclear at this point if Mike Evans is splitting his season between Supersport and 420R but at any round he turns up at, he’s sure to plant himself firmly towards the front of the field.

With a slightly more open mid field this year, there will be plenty of drivers joining onto the lead pack and capable of podiums. Weaver will likely lead this charge. Regularly rapid but also often caught up in battles, incident and suffering car troubles meant 2016 was a tough year for him. Again, he’ll be looking to move up the field and bring home some silverware.

There are also some new names to add to the mix which will inject some uncertainty to proceedings.

My call for the Championship is Tuck, Heaton then Szaruta. However, it’s so close to call that I have little confidence in this analysis. If Szaruta turns up to Snetterton in a slightly more athletic guise, he could surprise everyone and the reality is that any of the top 6 are in with a realistic shout.

2017 Seven 310R Championship

The newest addition to the Caterham Motorsport ladder is the 310R Championship. With a bump in power over the previous Supersport Category, the car specification looks great and initial feedback from the drivers is really positive.

The 2016 Tracksport grid are joined by some new names and some returning drivers. Hopefully this will see a true return to form for the class of the 2014 Academy. After a dip in numbers, things are looking good with over 20 signed up to date and a few more waiting in the wings.

With Tracksport Champion, Barnes, heading to the 420R in search of glory and Bremner heading off to race other cars, this is one of the most wide open Championships on the ladder this year.

Of the returning drivers, Steve McCulley and Barry Moore bring the most form with them. Often times, they were the next drivers up after the Barnes and Bremner duet. But it was a hard fought mid-field which saw Ebdon, Rimer, Wells and Lambert tough it out through the year. That battle is sure to continue. But the interest in this championship is as much the new names that are coming on-board.

James Houston makes a return to racing after a year off to do whatever you do when you’re not racing… always there or thereabouts in the past, he will figure when the flag comes down.

After a brief foray into the Graduates Caterham Series where he narrowly missed out on the Championship win, Lee Bristow is back in the Official Caterham  fold. Regularly competing at the pointy end of all the grids he’s been a part of, there’s nothing to indicate this is going to be any different this year.

We’ve got a few ‘jumpers’ who’ve skipped steps of the ladder. Including James Beardwell and Paul Bradey heading straight from Academy. That’s a big step to take and although speed may not be a particular issue, experience will almost certainly tell through the season.

Al Calvert also deserves a strong mention. It’s been a while since he has been able to run a full championship campaign but if he does, then he will be capable of winning it.

Last, but very much not least, is the return of Gordon Sawyer. Extremely rapid, a previous winning driver, he’s going to make an impression and is a dark horse to take the Championship by storm.

My call for this Championship is Bristow, McCulley then everyone else… If Calvert runs a full campaign, I’d put him on the top step and I also suspect that Sawyer may well feature more prominently in my mid season review.

2017 Seven 420R Championship

What a tasty, tasty proposition the 420R Championship is this year. It’s got a bit of everything going for it. A vacant position at the top up for grabs; check. Great new drivers; check. Great returning drivers; double check. Huge grid; check.

With Aaron Head off to race his classic Porsche, the Championship is as open as it has been for a while. Lee Wiggins finished another year as runner up in 2016 but returns again this year to go one step higher. It won’t be easy by any means though. Jack Sales returns after a spectacular debut season with more experience and a hunger to grab the trophy. Danny Winstanley looked back to full strength at the Donington finals and he will also be looking to launch a strong season.

Steve Nuttall proved to be human for the first time in 2016 and there’s no way he wants to leave without a trophy for a second time. Dyer will also be hoping for more of the ups and less of the downs through 2017.

Of the people moving up to the series, William Smith is reunited with Sales, his Group 2 Academy Rival. Last year was all high fives and congratulations between the pair but it’s all going to go serious again this year. Will comes off the back of a spectacular Supersport campaign but it normally takes a couple of years to truly compete at the top with this thoroughbred race car.

Jack Brown, Richard Ainscough, Andres Sinclair, Tony Mingoia, Christina Maple all jump up from the highly competitive Supersport grid and if their performances there are anything to go by, more than a couple will appear on a podium at some point.

Mikins and Barnes jump from Tracksport and we have Wes Fox and Elliott Norris returning to Caterhams after some time off. All have been competitive. Some highly. Barnes had a great showing at Donington when he tried out the R300 ahead of this full season. Will the time off have blunted Norris and Fox? Only time will tell.

Trying to place all these brilliant drivers into a firm order is pretty much impossible. At this stage, I, like many others in the paddock, would love to gift Wiggins the championship. However, my call at this stage is Sales, Winstanley then Wiggins – but as we all know, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Caterham Motorsport 2016 Season Review

Academy Green

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The early season form of the green group continued into the tail end of the season. The same super fast triplet of Tozer, John and Spencer were rarely out of the podium spots and always picking up the additional point for fastest lap.

The Championship went right down to the wire at Donington. It really wasn’t clear who was going to clinch it as a win would have taken it for any of the threesome. As it goes, the climax was largely spoilt by a long safety cad period. It was a sad end to a great season but Tozer was a worthy champion, Spencer a spectacular runner up and John a solid 3rd place – which he tried to throw away multiple times through the season. All three were split by 2 points come the final flag.

Walters, Rawlinson, Johnson and Grahame made a fast chasing pack. Sometimes enthusiasm caused a few issues and some mistakes held some of them back from ultimate victory. However, if past seasons are anything to go by, this is the group of drivers who will find their feet in Roadsport specification. Watch this space.

Varney, Gray and Graebert put in solid seasons as well. They are sure to be a big part of a strong mid field when both groups combine in 2017 to form Roadsport and will be chasing hard for podiums.

Academy White

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Where the Greed group had a threesome of contenders, the White group were a speeding duo of Gillias and McCormack. Between the two of them, they pretty much took everything going when the circuit racing started and would often leave the pack behind to fight between themselves for the scraps.

McCormack brought a super chilled approach to racing. Tooting his horn as he passed by  spectators on the banks. You could tell he was smiling behind his visor in the car and his speed was undeniable, however, it was a couple of fastest lap points from Gillias that ultimately handed him the championship.

Gillias was focussed all year but looked genuinely surprised at times that he was able to compete so well on the track. However, compete he did and win as well. He was a worthy champion and it will be great to see how they both progress onto the Roadsport grid in 2017.

Behind this duo, a spectacular group of Beardwell, Bianchi, Tiv and Wright would regularly change spaces and fighting hard. All of them suffered from a lack of consistency which saw them drop away from the front but they never had a dull moment.

Come Roadsport, they will be right in the mix with a little more experience under their belts. Beardwell in particular showed regular speed and, arguably, was the reason McCormack couldn’t match Gillias in the tables. But for some spins and excursions, he will do well.

It’s genuinely exciting to see everyone grow through the Academy year and it looks like there will be another really strong Roadsport grid to watch in 2017. It’s going to be exciting for sure.

Roadsport

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The 2016 Roadsport championship was definitely a coming of age season for a lot of drivers. With some absolutely fantastic racing through the season. The banks at the trackside were often the places to be through 2016. The on track action started fast and close and ended with a final round showdown.

Pre season I called Dan Quintero and Rui Ferrera as championship favourites with Russ Olivant also a strong contender with a run of form at the tail of the Academy year that you couldn’t help but make note of. So it proved that these drivers would all feature. Rui probably suffered a lull in form more than most and was sometimes seen lower down the field than he was accustomed to through the year. This affected his championship challenge. However, Russ and Daniel took it all the way to the last round of the year. Unfortunately, contact would rear it’s head and Russ would end up champion after the stewards had had their say.

It was a deserved win, and Russ has turned into quite the racer. He’s going to be a favourite for the 2017 season.

There were some other notable improvements made through the field and it was brilliant to see Rob Watts, Chris Aubrey and Alan Cooper all compete so strongly on a regular basis.

David Bevan and Will Lloyd continued to have strong showings but couldn’t maintain the ultimate pace at all the rounds.

Sometimes the pack got a little too complacent with their close racing and several rounds were marred by incident. Snetterton being the most notable of the lot. However, the pack responded well to this adversity and brought everything back under control.

Perhaps the surprise of the whole Caterham paddock was the immediate speed of Greg Hyatt. He missed the beginning of the season, but as soon as he joined the grid, he began winning and taking fastest laps. Had he done the full season, it’s likely he would have challenged for the championship. If he continues into 2017, the rest of the field better watch out.

Tracksport

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With small grids early in the season, it was hard to know how the tracksport season would go. Barnes was a hot pre-season favourite and he duly delivered on that promise. Indeed, it was only Dan Bremner’s setup up to tracksport that gave barnes any competition. The two would generally streak away from the rest of the field and have a race all of their own.

As the season progressed, we saw some return appearances from the likes of Paul Aram and Al Calvert, some of the gaps began to close and the lead train sometimes swelled. Snetterton was a highlight and showed what Tracksport could have been with a larger field.

Steve McCulley was often best of the rest through the year and seemed to avoid the bad luck that’s dogged his racing seasons to date. It was great to see Barry Moore finally getting on the podium and regularly competing at the sharp end of the field.

Milkins would likely have been a strong 3rd place contender in the championship but a couple of missed rounds meant he slipped down the order. Peter Rimer had another good year but still needs to find a little more consistency to move yet higher up the order.

Mention should be made for Andy Ebdon and Paul Wells, who consistency saw them riding high in the championship and only really being held back by the drop scores system that doesn’t fully reward consistent results.

Finally, it would be wrong to finish this report without a mention for team Labert. Richard making way for son Matthew at Snetterton. Richard was often at the sharp end of the grid, just behind the Barnes / Bremner rocket ships. However, Matthew perhaps made the biggest splash by winning both races at Snetterton. If Matthew gets his own car and a full season in 2017, he’s sure to do very well.

From the sounds of it, the Super Dooper Sport championship in 2017 will see an injection of some younger blood into this reduced field and the numbers should once again see strong battles and exciting tussles. Can’t wait.

Supersport

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I am biased, but the Superposrt championship this year was absolutely unbelievable. The 2015 Tracksport season was close but this was another level. With the addition of the 2015 tracksport grid to those staying on from Supersport it took a grid where 10 people could stand on the podium with ease and expanded that to 16.

Huge grid numbers and ultra close lap times were the hallmark of the season and while most drivers ebbed and flowed up and down the grid as time went on, it was Wiliiam Smith who absolutely nailed the championship with win after win. Most of the time, it wasn’t clear to see how he was able to win under such duress but win he did and he is a deserving champion. Having said that, there were multiple people deserving of the accolade and but for a few bad results, or bad luck, at least 4 people could have sealed the deal at one point or other.

Henry Heaton and Jack Brown had a stellar fight for runner up spot in the standings. In the final race of the year, the vice champion went back and forward between the two drivers multiple times. It was Jack Brown that came out on top in a tie breaker and Henry was left with 3rd place. After a great season for both, they should be happy with their performance.

Christian Szaruta often imposed himself on the front pack and only an off round at Snetterton meant he wasn’t also right in the fight for a championship podium.

Max McDonagh finally clicked with the car in Supersport specification. The limited slip differential allowing him to fully express his oversteer tendencies.

Sinclair, Dickens, Evans and Hutchinson also had their moments in the sun through the season and were always ready to pick up the pieces if the front drivers left any scraps.

My surprise of the season was the consistent front running form of Richard Ainscough. He came late to the paddock, starting in tracksport, and has quickly secured himself a spot right at the front of the grid. He’s going onto R300 next year and I see no reason why he can’t nail that and compete for a top 3 place.

Ben Tuck was a young gun addition to the grid – singularly focussed on winning. Although he didn’t have things his own way at the start of the year, the pace was always there and by the tail end of the season, once Will Smith was protecting his points, Tuck took over as the strongest racer with 4 podiums over the final 4 events, including 2 wins. Tuck is likely to move to more expensive racing categories soon but he’s sure to do well and the 2016 Supersport championship can feel satisfied that he was far from running in and sweeping all before him 🙂 I wish him well in his onward Career.

R300

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Aaron Head was pre season favourite. He delivered on that promise with a dominant season. But for some poor starts off the line, protecting his drive shafts from failure, he would have absolutely stormed every round. As it was he won all but a couple.

At the season finale at Doningon, Aaron didn’t even have to compete as the Championship was sewn up. However, he did race and although on Saturday he ended with a DNF, on Sunday, he stormed through the entire field to grab second place. Had the race been one lap longer, that could easily have been the win.

Lee Wiggins did his normal bridesmaid act, another exceptional season where he was marginally bettered. Another runner up spot in the championship. Jack Sales showed potential, the only other driver regularly able to compete with Aaron and Lee. A few off results where he got stuck behind trains of cars ultimately cost him more points but to come away with 3rd place in your first season of R300 is impressive indeed.

Nuttall failed to score 5 from 5 this year and it’s good to see that he is human. However, he also showed great speed at times and 4th place in the Championship is far from appalling. He’s sure to be strong coming into season 2 of R300 in 2017.

Clive Richards played his part in the season as well. His experience and calmness under pressure was a sight to behold from the banks. I’m sure he would have wanted a few more podiums but it was another strong campaign for the veteran.

Other drivers didn’t quite have the season they’d wanted. With Matt Dyer finishing lower than his speed would have him at times. Some mechanical failures also causing problems.

Overall it was a great season for the fastest class of Caterhams and it’s a great sign that 2017 is already oversubscribed and looks likely to take a further step up in competitiveness.

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Caterham Motorsport Mid Season Review 2016

Unbelievably, Saturday evening at Snetterton marked the halfway point of the 2016 Caterham Motorsport season. For those at the top of their respective tables, there still feels like ample opportunities to throw it all away. For those looking to make up ground, opportunities feel like they are waning.

There have been some fantastic races throughout the opening half of the season and it’s all still to play for if other seasons are anything to go by.

Caterham Academy 2016 – Green Group

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Tom John leads a busy Pack at Rockingham. Pic SnappyRacers

The first race of the season for the Green Group started in the Aintree hotel bar. This was a race that was very much lost by Pete Spencer. One of the pre-season favourites absolutely destroyed by the rest of the field. Sprinting in general didn’t seem to be Pete’s forté with only a clutch of 4th places to show for his efforts. However, the season has now moved into the race phase and after a fabulous Rockingham, with a win and fastest lap – he very much backed this up by just missing out over the line at Snetterton for race 2.

It’s Steve Tozer that took the win at Snetterton and he trails by a single point in the standings. A point that should have been in the bag, but he threw it away on the last lap at Rockingham. Still, the win at Snetterton was a great way to bounce back and he’ll be looking to continue that form into the latter half of the year. Hopefully the point lost at the Rock won’t come back to haunt him.

The third of a high speed green group trio is Tom John. In true NASCAR form, he has two first names – and in true NASCAR form, he’s also settled into the slipstream well with a dominant lap record at Snetterton. However, after a win at the first sprint, he threw away a result in Curborough and looked to have done it again at Snetterton with a spin on the opening lap of the restart. In one of the longest ‘spins’ ever recorded – he dropped deep into the field and only a stellar recovery drive got him back to the podium.

Outside of the top three – things are a little more fluid. Pete Walters heads the chasers with a great set of results. He had an intense battle with Nick Graham at Snetterton and it looked like it got too close a couple of times with some contact leading to Nick spinning. Once as a direct result and then again out of frustration. Both are in a battle with Matt Gray and Marcus Rawlinson who have shown equal speed and will be looking to break into the podiums in the remaining 3 races.

There are plenty in the mid-tables who, once dropped scores are taken into account, are far from out of the running. Whether that be through having missed a round due to outside commitments or having issues out on track.

The quality of the racing on show has been great so far and as everyone’s confidence and experience levels rise, it looks like we’re in for a great finale to the Green Group’s Academy campaign.

Caterham Academy Championship 2016 – White Group

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The Academy in their first race. Close racing is a guarantee in Caterhams. Pic SnappyRacers

Ben Gillias leads the White Group by a fairly comfortable 7 points thanks to 2 wins and 2 seconds places over the opening 4 rounds. However, with dropped points taken into account, things are very much closer. Ben’s earned his lead by fact of being consistent and always being in the mix. A lucky reprieve from a bad start in Rockingham, where the race needed to be reset may point to luck also being on his side. That’s an ingredient that is hard to come by but great to have.

It’s been Jay McCormack who looks to be closest to challenging Ben in the races. Leading the vast majority of laps at Rockingham and Snetterton he certainly knows how to race. Only a last lap track limits transgression cost him the Snetterton win. His relaxed style and insistence on tooting his horn at his family on every lap shows there’s additional capacity to spare and he will surely figure in the second half of the season.

It’s James Beardwell that is actually second in the championship currently with a win and two thirds to his name already. However, at Rockingham and Snetterton he made costly mistakes that took him out of the running for the wins and back into the clutches of a busy pack of drivers. If he can cut out these mistakes, he’ll challenge for the championship.

Speaking of that busy pack of drivers, Phillip Bianchi, Richard Toomey and Eric Tiv joined James Beardwell at Snetterton for a ding dong battle from lights to flag. It was great to watch. All three drivers are going well but need to find an additional level if they want to win it.

The mid pack can’t be ignored in this group either. There are some quick drivers that haven’t yet had a run of luck – or have just managed to have poor luck – and there’s nothing to say the top drivers will have it all their own way for the final 3 races.

Caterham Roadsport Championship 2016

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A stream of cars has been a regular sight through the Roadsport races this year. Pic SnappyRacers

The Roadsport grid has given some brilliant track action in the opening half of 2016. The races have been close and hard fought between a large bunch of closely matched drivers.

Russ Olivant has continued his great form from the end of the Academy year and leads the standings by a huge 32 points. However, that’s largely down to the majority of the other contenders having DNF’s against their name as well as several with penalty points as well.

Accounting for drop scores, this championship is still very much within the reach of at least 6 drivers. New comer Guy Hawkins has seen an incredible run of form, starting strong and getting stronger as the season has progressed. A double win at Snetterton is a highly impressive way to lay down intent for the second half of the year.

Dan Quintaro is also on the podium more often than not and a highly impressive fight back through the field in race 2 at Snetterton has kept his championship challenge alive.

Rob Watts, David Bevan and Alan Cooper all made an impressive train of cars at Snetterton and are showing speed coming into the second half of the season. Rui Frreria is suffering an uncharacteristic lull in form, after a strong start to the season. It’s hard to believe that it will continue for much longer and he’s sure to figure on the podium more in the final races of the year.

It’s telling that strong point scores appear all the way down the Roadsport table and so it’s simply not possible to call how things will settle. There’s still plenty of opportunity for people lower down the scores to push higher and if the opening half of the season is anything to go by, it’s guaranteed there are surprises yet to come.

Caterham Tracksport Championship 2016

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Barnes and Bremner have consistently been ahead of the chasing pack this year. Pic SnappyRacers

Anthony Barnes came into this season as favourite to take home the trophy. Certainly, he’s had a great run through the opening half of the season with 4 wins and 4 second places. 3 fastest laps to boot and things are looking rosy for the Team Parker racer.

A slightly smaller grid than the rest of the championships this year it didn’t look like anyone would have the fire power and consistency to deal with Barnes. However, Dan Bremner skipping Roadsport in favour of moving to Tracksport has meant that Barnes hasn’t had it all his own way. The speeding tandem of Bremner and Barnes have consistently left the remaining field in their wake. Bemner’s score card isn’t quite as good as Barnes with 2 wins and 2 seconds. However, the killer for him has been a couple of lower finishes and crucially, at Snetterton, penalty points and exclusion from the second race results. There’s still time to recover but it’s a long shot.

Damian Milkins currently lies 2nd in the championship after a consistent set of results. He has only one podium spot to show for his efforts as yet. Still, consistency pays and the remaining races offer chances to solidify. When drop scores come into play, it will be hard to keep the championship podium though.

Andy Ebdon is currently 4th, Paul Wells sits 6th. They are both in the same boat as Milkins. A really solid set of results so far but with the addition of some more fast drivers at head of the field could see this slide unless they can find some more time on track.

It won’t be helped by a resurgent field at Snetterton, where it wasn’t all about Bremner and Barnes. Newcomer Matt Lambert shocked everyone with the pace to win the double. And it wasn’t only Matt joining the leading two this time. Paul Aram made a welcome return to the field after a guest appearance at Anglesey. This time, competing for the win in the leading group.

Barry Moore showed some brilliant pace at Snetterton. In a season where he hasn’t been able to keep up with the leading two so far, could Snetterton show the shape of the rest of the year? Moore will be hoping so.

The mid field is as fluid as ever. Some drivers have missed rounds – so dropped scores are very much in play. Rimer and McCulley have both been there or thereabouts.

If we see a return to the Championship of Al Calvert and Joe Draper at some point this year, that lead group we saw at Snetterton could grow further and we’d finally see the championship that this could have been.

Caterham Supersport Championship 2016

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Will Smith leads a high speed carpark. Pic SnappyRacers

44 drivers have so far scored points in the 2016 Caterham Supersport Championship. And it’s a championship that’s so tightly fought that nearly everyone has seen mixed results from round to round. Everyone, apart from Will Smith that is.

Even over the the long, technical and challenging Snetterton 300 track, the top 16 were covered by 1.5s in qualifying – the top 13 all within 1 second of pole. It’s fairly unfathomable therefore how Will has managed to win 7 out of 8 races. Where he didn’t win, he finished a lowly 4th place! Just a fantastic run of form for the DPR Motorsport driver borne out of racing skill, because it’s certainly not been easy.

A whole gaggle of cars have routinely hounded him and reminded him that any false step could see those wins turn into 10th places.

Leading those chasers is Henry Heaton. Henry won where Will couldn’t and, apart from one blip, has finished on the podium in every race. Any other year and this would have been in touching distance of the lead, however, he currently sits 20 points down on Will. But, with the drop scores, it’s at least possible for him to be right in the title fight heading into the final round.

Jack Brown has also had a strong start to the year. Pre-season, he looked to be the one to beat and his outright pace is untouchable on some tracks. His focus and concentration this year have also been steely. However, he’s slipped off the podium a few times and with some penalty points counting against him, he will need to have a fantastic end to the season if he wants to win. Having said that, we’re coming into Oulton Park, where Jack made everyone look slow last year.

Then comes a gaggle of drivers who have all taken podiums but who have also slipped down the highly competitive grids at times. Christian Szaruta, Max McDonagh, Chris Hutchinson and Andres Sinclair have all seen varied results but have generally kept it on the black stuff and near the pointy end of the grid. Szaruta has often been fighting right at the front and only a few bad results in qualifying are holding him back. He’s come through the field many times this year already but Snetterton was his worst weekend so far and it’s cost points. Max McDonagh, on the other hand, is in the ascendency. Now out of the Tracksport which he never fully mastered and fully to grips with the Supersport car, results are starting to flow.

It’s close between these two and Andres, but Andres had to miss Snetterton owing to exams and this has put him artificially down the standings currently. He’ll be fighting for the championship podiums once he’s back in the cockpit at Oulton.

Hutchinson looks set to be in a season long battle in between the top of the grid and the chasing pack. A position that’s seen varied results from podium to 11th place. Not as strong a start to the year as he’s become accustomed to but hoping, I’m sure, to turn that around for the second half of the year.

And what of that ferocious mid field? Gore, Evans, Mingoia, Maple, Weaver, Tuck, Robinson, Powell, Dickens and Ainscough to name a few. It’s insulting to call that the mid grid as all regularly figure in lead battles. But all, for one reason or another, have suffered some lower finishes or DNFs that have likely taken them out of the fight for the ultimate win.

What is sure is that there will be plenty of people looking to turn their seasons around starting from Oulton, and there are lots of others who will be nervously looking in their rearview mirrors waiting for them to arrive.

Caterham R300-S Superlight Championship 2016

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Aaron head on pole at Snetterton. A common sight this year. Pic SnappyRacers

It’s been an epic spectacle to behold a full grid of R300’s through this years events. The R300-S is a true beast of a machine and watching the field go hammer and tongs at each round has been a treat.

As pre-season favourite, Aaron Head has lived up to high expectations and has come home in front in 7 of the 8 rounds and taken 5 of the fastest laps to boot. It’s been a highly impressive run of form from the DPR Motorsport driver but he hasn’t always given himself an easy ride. It’s been necessary to come back through the field more than once to secure his results.

Lee Wiggins has again been highly consistent and has again seen that result in a string of second places. He took the win that Aaron couldn’t manage and also has a fastest lap to his name. But it just seems that Aaron has an edge that Wiggins, and the rest of the field, haven’t quite matched yet.

Jack Sales took the decision to prematurely finish a frustrating Tracksport season in 2015 so as to make the jump straight to the R300 class this year. And he’s made an immediate impression on the field, qualifying high at every round and finishing on, or near to, the podium at all rounds. The high temperatures have caused him, like others, to suffer power issues when running in the pack but so far, these have not proved too detrimental and he sits an excellent 3rd in the standings.

Clive Richards and Stephen Nuttall are next up. They have had also been scoring heavy points this year but both have had hiccups along the way. Stephen suffering a broken drive shaft in Zolder and Clive running low down the order in the opening round at Brands Hatch. Both will be working hard to change things around and take further podiums in the remaining rounds. Nutall, finally finding out what it feels to be human this year.

Behind this regular leading pack, there are others that are sitting lower in the standings. However, for some, this is due to DNFs or having to miss rounds of the season. We also saw the withdrawal of Jon Mortimer from the championship. And Danny Winstanley broke his car at Zolder and has yet to return to the fold. Jon and Danny were strong podium contenders.

Jeremy Ellis has put in a good run of form, but when dropped scores are taken into account, he’ll have to up his results to stay ahead of Philip Gladman – who’s having a varied but strong inaugural year in his R300 – Danny Killeen – who couldn’t attend Snetterton – and Matt Dyer – who had mechanical issues at Zolder in both races.

The top of the championship may be all but won, however, it will be fascinating to see how the rest of the order settles itself in the second half of the year.

Have I missed something in my report? Someone having a stellar season that didn’t even get a mention? Why not comment and put the records straight!

Insurance 2016

Every year I get quotes for racing cover. This year is no exception. The most competitive quote I got was from BlueFin insurance. It may save some of you some time / energy from asking around.

The BlueFin deal covers all 7 race weekends plus all testing and track days up until the end of October. You don’t have to notify them if you’re going on a track/test day in advance.

Just to give the casual reader an idea of how much it costs to insure a race car for a season (remember this is a good deal I’ve found…)

Premium: £3.2k
Excess: £2k
Cover: £12k
Includes reinstatement clause (if you make a claim, the cover will return to £12k up to twice in one year.)

Speak to Richard Pellegrini (Richard.Pellegrini@bluefingroup.co.uk ) if you’re interested in a similar deal and please mention Cheesy sent you!

If you’re an Academy driver, why not try for a better deal with them as you’re only doing 7 competitive events rather than 14? Let me know how you get on if you do enquire.

If you’re currently insuring your car on trackdays via your road insurance, just be aware that any claim made will affect your no claims bonus and that’s not always made clear!

2016 Caterham Motorsport Preview

The long winter months are still with us, but we’ve popped into 2016 now, so it’s time to take stock and preview the upcoming Caterham Motorsport season. Registration numbers look absolutely stellar this year and it’s guaranteed to mean ultra-competitive racing in all categories.

2016 Caterham Academy Championship

One of the best things about the Caterham Championship ladder is the fact that so many people start out in the Academy and then stick around all the way through to Supersport 4 years later (often times even longer than that.)

It means that most people in the paddock have experienced the nerves, excitement, elation and pains that the first years racing brings. It’s a shared experience.

It’s also means that people really do pay attention to the Academy races and watch, with enjoyment, all the highs and lows as they play out.

This years Academy grid numbers are back on full song and there are plenty who have taken the opportunity to build their own car. That’s a great sign.

Some have already taken to the track with their shiny new cars to get a taste of what’s to come. Some are even showing early pace, but the beauty of the Academy is that everyone starts from scratch and learns at different speeds.

There’s still plenty of time ahead of the first sprint in April and the first circuit race is still a mile off. All the paddock wish the Academy best of luck for 2016. Keep an eye out for the mid-term report later in the season to see which Academites are taking like ducks to water and which are sinking.

2016 Caterham Roadsport Championship

The combination of the White and Green Academy groups from 2015 is an exciting proposition. The grid is looking healthy in numbers and the front runners all proved that they could run  up to the ultimate pace.

The Roadsport spec. car is a big step change from the Academy car. It takes some re-working of driving approach and so, whilst most who are fast in the Academy car will find the pace in Roadsport, those that didn’t get along with the Academy car often take a huge leap forward in pace.

Andy Perry and Rui Ferreira headed home their respective groups in 2015 and were both class acts. Andrew Perry had a harder fight on his hands and so could well come into Roadsports more battle hardened than Rui. But Rui’s systematic approach and consistency will be important with the longer races that Roadsport offers. Both will certainly feature at the head of races and both will fight for the title.

They won’t be alone though. Russ Olivant would be a sensible bet. He ended the Academy year with a fantastic run of results and took honors in the combined grid Caterham Trophy race at the tail end of the season. He’s fast, he can win races and will do so in 2016.

Will Lloyd will feature up front as well. Another season that picked up through the year and ended with a visit to the top step of the podium at Oulton.

Rob Watts and Lee Collins will be looking to see if they can emulate Lloys and step higher on the podium. Kieran McAleer and David Bevan had rather boom or bust Academy years. Bevan managed the top step and Kieran got close (but for a time penalty). However, both had incident as well, with spins and crashes. If that can be dialed out in Roadsport, they will be regular contenders.

With 14 chances to get on the podium in Roadsport, rather than just the 7 in Academy, there will be others wanting their share. Jon Curry managed one in 2015 and we’d all love to see the tears again in 2016.

The Porter family are doubling their chances with Sarah’s husband Paul joining in the fun.

There will also be at least two people I have completely overlooked here who come out of the woodwork and throw a spanner in the works. If you’re reading this and your name isn’t mentioned as being in with a chance – go for it – it’s all up for grabs.

2016 Caterham Tracksport Championship

The Academy class of 2014 have now made it to the Tracksport series. It’s been a highly attritional few years racing and the grid is more focussed for 2016, with 19 drivers registered so far. There are some big names from the 2015 season missing at the moment and that may just leave a way clear for some varied podium visits through the year.

Anthony Barnes put in a highly consistent Roadsport campaign. Often keeping his head when other around were losing theirs. That consistency may well pay dividends with the longer race length that Tracksport brings. Barnes also improved massively through the year and ended the season with visits to the top of the podium. He’s going to be one to watch in Tracksport and if his improvement continues, he may be hard to beat.

Al Calvert will also be in for a win at the rounds he competes. Should he put in a full campaign, he would likely be favourite to take the trophy but that looks unlikely currently with family commitments.

Draper, McCulley and Milkins are also well within a shout of securing their first Championship. McCulley and Draper both seem to suffer from more bad luck than they are entitled to expect and with a swing in fortune, both have the raw speed necessary. Milkins needs to find a touch more consistency across the whole season but has proven more than enough that he can be in with a shout.

Graham Williams, Peter Rimer and Barry Moore all need to keep facing the right way long enough to stay in contention more often. All have shone at times. All have had bad results that detract from mounting a championship charge. All are capable of getting it together, especially in a grid which will be a little more forgiving with gaps to get some consistent laps.

There are also a couple of new additions to the grid. A pair of Lamberts. The father, son combo both bring with them racing experience and ambitions to show the existing drivers how it’s done. In a grid that’s so open, they might just be in contention if they can get to grips with the car quickly.

2016 Caterham Supersport Championship

With the majority of the 2015 Tracksport grid moving up to be 2016 Supersport drivers and a lot of the class of 2015 remaining in the Supersport, the category has a huge grid of 46 entries.

It’s not yet clear which drivers will be mounting a full championship campaign, with some likely to miss a few rounds. However, Will Smith and Phil Jenkins have got to be pre season favourites.

Will is back racing against his Roadsport competitors having skipped to the Supersport grid a year early. He made a great impression on his debut year and took the top step of the podium against fierce competition. Phil made a lightening start to the 2015 Supersport season, and at the half way point, it didn’t seem possible for the rest of the pack to catch him. However, some late season reliability issues saw the championship slip from his grasp.

Andres Sinclair, Alistair Weaver and Tony Mingoia could well lead the charge for the other 2015 Supersport competitors. All proved podium potential in 2015 but  couldn’t find the consistency to challenge at every round of the season. Nick Portlock and David Russell also proved that they could compete at times.

However, the huge influx of new drivers from the 2015 Tracksport grid should keep all the returning Supersport drivers something to think about. Their Tracksport races were often competed by a lead pack of 15 drivers, all capable of podium finishes. That’s a lot of cars to fit into gaps on the Supersport grid that are already close.

Tim Dickens had a dream 2015. Everything fell into line after a tricky Roadsport season and he proved the most consistent driver, regularly appearing from nowhere to take podium spots. If he, and the rest of the grid, where honest, a double win at the opening round of the 2015 season was a shock! But the fact he turned in result after result proved that it wasn’t a fluke and the Championship was deserved.

But it wasn’t a sure thing. Henry Heaton was biting at his tails all season and such was the closeness of the championship, nobody knew for a good 5 mins after the final race who had won. Henry will be right at the front of the grid again in 2016 and with his penchant for sideways driving, the limited slip diff could well elevate him yet more.

Jack Brown was another star of 2015 and but for a brief lull in form at a couple of rounds, he would have been right in the title fight. If his progress continues into Supersport then there’s no doubt that the top step of the podium will be his on more than one occasion.

McDonah, Robinson, Szaruta, Evans, Ainscough and Hutchinson will all be wanting to better their 2015 seasons. All showed pace. All competed for podiums and all wanted more of them come the flag.

However, if there was a book running for Supersport, an each way bet on Dan Gore would be a very wise choice. Dan finally ‘got it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) at the tail end of the Roadsport season and took his speed into Tracksport extremely well. But for being taken out of podium positions by errant Frenchman, Dan’s championship challenge could have been even stronger. Given that he came 3rd in the Championship, that’s saying something.

There are also some new names on the grid. Ben Tuck looks to be a young driver with big ambitions. Already with a season’s Mazda racing behind him, he’s used to close driving and as a member of the MSA Academy for young drivers you can be sure his focus will be strong and he’ll know all about racing dietary requirements.

One thing’s for certain. The lead pack is going to be super sized for Supersport. It will be competitive beyond bounds and it will certainly worth getting up on the banks to watch the action.

2016 Caterham Superlight R300 Championship

The R300 grid in 2016 is looking fantastically healthy. The new R300s car has proved itself to be extremely reliable, cheap to run and rewarding to drive. With the potential gremlins all out of the way since introduction, this year sees in excess of 30 cars ready to take the starting grid in April. 2015 Champion, Dave Robinson, has headed out in search of the next challenge – the whole paddock wishes him well in this aim and I’m sure he will be right at the sharp end of any grid he puts himself on.

We lose our Champion, but the grid is chock full of talent for 2016 and it’s a genuinely hard job to pick out a winner ahead of the season.

The safe bet is to go for 2014 Champion, Aaron Head. It’s a certainty that he will be at the front of the charge for the championship and he’s proved he can wrap up a whole season with Supersport and R300 Championships already in the locker. Nothing ever gets left out on the track and an ability to string lightening fast laps together throughout the 30 min races means he will be hard to beat.

But that’s not to say he can’t be beaten and so, who’s most likely to challenge strongest? Lee Wiggins has been racing at the front of Caterham grids since 2009. The perennial bridesmaid, having always finished 2nd or 3rd – but never managing to bring hope the biggest cup at the end of the year. There’s nothing to say he won’t be equally competitive in 2016.

Danny Winstanley is making a return to the R300 grid after a brief foray away during 2015. Danny made an immediate impact on the grid in 2014 and was a regular front running and winner. But for some overheating issues suffered during the season, he would have been right in the running for the crown. Extremely quick and talented, the No.78 will definitely feature on the podiums through the year.

Other’s returning to the grid include Jon Mortimer, Matt Dyer and Paul Thacker. All featured in the front pack at various points in the season. Jon Mortimer often being best of the rest but taking 2 wins at the tail end of the season means he comes to 2016 with good momentum and he’s proved he can find the additional 10ths to mount a charge on the front pack. Matt Dyer and Paul Thacker are still looking to find those 10ths but both have proved that, on their day, they can do so.

They will make a strong chasing pack and given the additional numbers on the grid this year, if could be enough for them to stay in the lead pack to the end of the race.

Of those joining the grid for the first time, we have the exciting proposition of Steve Nuttall aiming to make it 5 championships in a row. 2012 Academy, 2013 Roadsport, 2014 Tracksport, 2015 Supersport – 2016 R300? There are a lot of people in the paddock that would dearly like to see that. Sadly for Steve, those people aren’t going to be on the grid alongside him! Steve’s been fast out of the box in all the Caterhams he’s driven, and the R300 will be no different. The driving style in the top machine in the Caterham ladder is slightly different, so he will need to adapt fast in order to keep in the running alongside the returnees who will be fast out of the gate.

Clive Richards has been racing for decades and racing Caterhams for many of those years. There’s nothing Clive hasn’t seen many times before and that means he’s always at the front of the grid and he’s an extremely hard man to out manoeuvre.

We’ve also got Dany Killeen and Justin Armstrong making a full campaign in 2016 after a few outings during 2015 to get warmed up. Danny especially has proved rapid on many occasions and could challenge – so long as he keeps it facing the right way and out of danger. Justin had a frustrating Tracksport year in a car that wasn’t performing. He’ll be looking to pull everything together and move up the grid in 2016.

We’ve also got Roadsport 2014 Champion Jack Sales jumping past the Supersport category and straight into R300. Jack has proved untouchable at times in the other categories, winning multiple races and holding things together under high pressure. It would be unwise of people to overlook Jack as a possible podium contender and a potential future R300 champion.

With over 30 cars on the grid, it’s going to be a sight and a sound to behold. I’m almost certain that this preview will have overlooked / ignored multiple drivers who should have been included. But that’s part of the fun of having a race series that’s the complete opposite to the predictable F1 results.

Best one make series of the year, 2015

downforce-award

Thank you to everyone who voted in the Downforce Radio awards. We have been crowned the 2015 One Make Series of the Year!

This is a great acknowledgement of a fantastic years racing by the whole of the class of 2015. Regularly having packs of 10 drivers competing for the race wins, never a dull moment anywhere up and down the grid.

Credit to all that go into putting this show on the road and here’s to more of the same in 2016 in the Supersport category.

2015 Caterham Motorsport Season Review

The 2015 Caterham Motorsport season is now over. It ended at a damp and greasy Silverstone International. The dust is now settling and 6 drivers have been crowned deserving champions.

Caterham Academy Championship 2015, Green Group

Rui Ferreira had done enough for the championship by the time he left Oulton Park. During the tail end of the season, he tried out the other steps of the podium for size and let a few others feel what it’s like on the top step but he did a great job all year and was a deserving champion.

Rui Ferreira did a great job all year and was a deserving champion.

Rob Yates ended the year on a high, with a win and fastest lap. A slight dip early in the circuit racing made up for by some great drives at the head of the field.

Will Lloyd will be one to watch in Roadsport. With a little more assertion on track and with the lessons learned in the Academy, he looks like a package coming on form.

Will Lloyd will be one to watch in Roadsport

Of the people not on the podium, David Bevan looked quick in qualification but never quite kept it all together once the lights went out. A little more consistency would see better results. Kieran McAleer was always fast but sometimes a bit of over aggression or wayward control  cost a result. Rob Watts would have been right at the pointy end, but for the sprints… and Jon Curry would figure higher if he could qualify and keep things pointed in the right direction for longer.

Roadsports always brings new faces to the front and I’m sure there will be some mid field racers this year that will press for the podiums in 2016.

Caterham Academy Championship 2015, White Group

On balance, I’d say that Andy Perry deserved the title purely on consistency of performance. He clinched it by 2 points in the end but the battles at the front of the White group were often extremely intense and belied the fact that this was everyone’s first season racing.

The battles at the front of the White group belied the fact that this was everyone’s first season racing.

Russ Olivant ended the season flying. Fastest lap after fastest lap went his way and going into the last round, momentum was with him. However, it wasn’t to be this year but what a way to set yourself up for Roadsport.

Lee Collins season tailed off a little towards the end as others picked up their form. However, he did enough early doors to keep a podium spot at the awards dinner.

The White group looked to have a host of drivers that were strong and committed. The two Danniel’s, Quintero and Bremner, were both naturally quick, but a paddock hill disagreement proved costly in their seasons this year.

Russ Olivant ended the season flying – what a way to set yourself up for Roadsport.

When the White group combine with the Green group to form Roadsport in 2016, we’re guaranteed great racing and the White’s will go in feeling they will likely have the upper hand over the Green’s. However, the trophy race run at Silverstone containing both groups together proved that wouldn’t necessarily be the case!

Caterham Roadsport Championship 2015

David Webber proved a deserving champion in the Roadsport Championship. Although there was inconsistency in the first half of the year, he was never out of contention.

At the mid-point of the season he stepped back, consolidated, worked out what he needed to do and, more importantly, made it happen.

At the mid-point of the season David Webber stepped back and worked out what he needed to do to win the championship – then did it.

Anthony Barnes missed most of the incident that was going off all around him – which is impressive given how much there was in the early part of the season. He was a huge improver through the year and is now a solid participant on the podium spots. A 2nd place finish in the championship was deserved simply for determination and persistence.

Olly Wigg proved what everyone already knew – that he was fast. After the early incidents that blotted his performances through Academy and Roadsport, the second half of Roadsport showed jut what he’s capable of. If he’s back for Tracksport, he’ll be be the one to beat.

Olly Wigg proved what everyone already knew – that he was fast.

Damien Milkins and Steve McCulley put together strong campaigns. Ultimately, it didn’t result in championship Silverware but they both figured strongly at the front and hopefully will continue to do so in Tracksport in 2016.

Beyond the pointy end of the points, there is a fairly long list of drivers who have proved they can race at the front but just haven’t stitched it all together just yet.  Barry Moore, Graham Williams and Ben Wigg will feature if they go to Tracksport. Another years experience may be all they need to finally put everything together.

Caterham Tracksport Championship 2015

Caterham racing is close and the Tracksport races often proved to be the closest and most widely fought of the 2015 Championships. Games of racing chess were often played by trains of cars 10 long.

Games of racing chess were often played by trains of cars 10 long.

Tim Dicken’s managed to bring it home by 2 points over Henry Heaton. Both had extremely consistent seasons and were fast at every track we visited. Tim made the perfect start to the year but the two were rarely more than a few positions apart.

Either would have been a deserving champion and such was the closeness at the end of the final race, nobody knew who had won for a good 5 mins.

Tim was showing the nerves at the tail end of the season but managed to hold it all together.

However, the year wasn’t all about Tim and Henry and honours were spread far and wide with up to 10 people fighting each and every race. Dan Gore made good on the promise he’d gone into the season with and sealed 3rd place with a fastest lap at Silverstone.  He just pipped Jack Brown, surely one of the most improved racers across all the Caterham Championships.

Tim was showing the nerves at the tail end of the season but managed to hold it all together and bring home the Championship.

Jack turned into a force of nature through the year and but for a couple of off rounds, would have been right at the front of the championship. When he was fast – he was the fastest by a long way. A little more consistency and 2016 could be his year.

It wouldn’t be fair to leave out Robinson, Hutchinson, McDonagh, Szaruta, Sales, Bristow, Ainscough, Osgerby and Evans from this review as they all featured strongly and consistently – each picking up or getting close to podiums and all making sure the championship was wide open.

With pretty much all of them heading to Supersport in 2016, it seems likely that the battle will continue and who knows what will happen then!

Caterham Supersport Championship 2015

The contenders at the half way point of the season were still the ones duking it out at the end of the season. All performed well under almost impossible variables.

However, a twist in fortune for Phil Jenkins’ stella early season run of results happened with a mechanical DNF at Brands and that left the door open. Only the slimmest of cracks but it was all the encouragement that Steve Nuttall needed to sneak past and wrap up a 4th consecutive Caterham championship. It’s difficult wrapping up one championship but to do so four times in a row is a thing of legend and Nuttall is truly one of the best there is.

It’s difficult wrapping up one championship but to do so four times in a row is a thing of legend and Nuttall is truly one of the best there is.

Clive Richards remained in a strong second in the championship. Any other season, I think it would have been enough but 2015 just proved to need that little bit more.

Phil Jenkins held 3rd place just behind Clive but fairly comfortably  ahead of Will Smith and Danny Killeen.  Will Smith had a brilliant first year in Supersport having skipped Tracksport. He’s going to go into 2016 running as all his 2013 classmates catch back up again and he’s surely going to be a favourite for the Championship.

Behind the lead group Portlock, Sinclair, Mingoia and Weaver all featured on and off through the year. The racing was always close and exciting and that lead group were just tantalizingly ahead – I’m sure all those continuing into 2016 will go in determined to make a move forward.

Caterham R300 Superlight Championship 2015

The R300 championship was the only other championship, other than Academy Green, which didn’t go down to the wire.

The results sheet implies that Robinson dominated the year but the races didn’t agree.

Dave Robinson managed to wrap it all up at the Oulton Park event after 9 wins out of the opening 12 rounds. The results sheet implies that Robinson dominated the year but the races didn’t agree. Once more, Aaron Head was Robinson’s constant sparing partner and the two were rarely separated by more than a car length.

Only at Brands Hatch did Robinson dominate the field and it was there that the title was cemented. Head’s charge faltered with a DNF and even a storming drive back through the field to 2nd on the Sunday race couldn’t ultimately recover the situation.

Beyond the front two, it looked like Sean Byrne might finally wrap up a championship podium. Regularly joining the Head/Robinson battle at the front, he looked rapid and consistent through the first half of the year. However, Lee Wiggins was picking up podium spots at an equally impressive rate and where Wiggins had a (relatively) poor Silverstone GP event, Byrne had a nightmare at the the final Silverstone International round and that gave Wiggins 1pt over Sean in the standings.

it looked like Sean Byrne might finally wrap up a championship podium but a nightmare at the final round saw 3rd slip by 1 point to Wiggins.

Mortimer and Dyer had impressive first years in the top tier Caterham championship. Dyer started the season with a podium and Mortimer put it all together with a couple of wins at the tail end of the season. Both will be back in 2016 to try again and will carry this experience through.