The last time Caterham were at Castle Combe was in 2015 and I was racing in the Tracksport Championship. It coincided with the height of my car problems I suffered from at the time and I have some fairly poor memories of two races where all I could do was hang on to top 10 places.
Castle Combe is also a track where the event team run things their own way and very differently from all the other tracks we visit. Frankly, their communication on testing and track day organisation was downright poor this year, not helped by very difficult conditions out on track and drivers failing to keep away from the famously unforgiving Castle Doom barriers.
Thankfully, the race weekend organisation was faultless and all the frustrations of testing melted away once the real action got under way.
I got a good lap in early in qualification but never bettered it and it was only good enough for 4th on the grid. The correct end of the grid but the first time I’ve been off the front row since the opening round of the year. More frustratingly, looking back at the data, I gave up my first flying lap of th session and that could well have been good enough for a higher spot. My DPR Motorsport team mates, and championship rivals, were first and second on the grid so there was everything to play for.
Whilst the rain did threaten before the start of race 1, it never materialised fully. I got a brilliant initial start, but in the excitement of thinking I was going to come out of turn 1 in the lead, I managed to do the dreaded 2nd-5th gear change once more. It seems I can’t do a race weekend without at least one of these mistakes and it’s becoming increasingly irksome.
So, I ended in 4th through the first lap. I felt strong, like I could make up spaces. However, an over exuberant throttle application down at tower on lap two saw me slide wide and onto the damp grass. The dirt on the tyres then meant I locked up and wasn’t able to make the next corner.
A bouncy trip across the grass dropped me down to 12th in the queue. Memories of 2015 came flooding back! However, my DPR Motorsport car this year is top notch and I immediately got my head down and started to make up spaces.
The 30 minute race went by in a bit of a blur and I slowly clawed my way back up through the field. A small gap had appeared to get back to the top 6 and it took several laps to make up the distance. Was there enough time left to get back through the front of the field? JUST was the answer. Although Gordon Sawyer had a gap out in the lead, some exciting dicing with Christian Szaruta and Tom Grensinger eventually bagged me 2nd place in the race to the flag.
The fight for 2nd with Tom was extremely tight but ultimately very fair and all the more fun for that fact. Tom has jumped straight from Academy to 310R and he raced like someone with far more experience.
Whilst closing the gap to the lead group, I also set the fastest lap of the race, bagging the additional point and dropping the advantage of Gordon’s win to just a single point.
It was a great result from what could have been a championship changer after the mistake early on and it’s a result I am proud of.
Sunday was always forecast to be a wet race and it delivered on that promise. Initially, I felt strong in the soaking conditions and held onto 2nd place for a couple of laps. However, I was never able to maximise my braking and I lost a spaces, initially to Christian Szaruta and, after a mistake which dropped me back from the lead battle, I also lost out to Nathan Bell.
A safety car intervention brought everything back together but even that stroke of luck wasn’t able to move me forward. I was relatively safe from the attack from behind, so it looked like 4th would be the end result.
However, incidents with cars ending in the barrier caused yellow flags and eventually the chequered flag was thrown 5 minutes early, crucially, just after Christian had spun at the second chicane and fallen back behind.
A very sad / sore end to his race was a gift of a podium for me. A lucky result indeed but one that also means the championship battle is ridiculously close going into the final 2 events of the year.
Just two point separate the top 3 positions in the championship.
Next up is Thruxton, a track that is famously fast. It only has 2 braking points and will be the ultimate game of chess as the tow will play an incredible part in the racing.
The season is getting closer to its conclusion and it’s building very nicely to a climax. It really is anyone’s to win at the moment and you can be sure that it will be as hard fought as ever for the podium spots.
You would have been perfectly justified to assume we’d arrived in Norfolk in high summer based solely on the weather. It was bright, sunny and hot all weekend long at the Snetterton circuit.
The spectators were certainly appreciative. The tyres, less so!
Having been largely used to 2 days of testing in the past, this was one of the first times I made do with just the Friday test ahead of the weekend. It means everything has to be compressed into half the time I’m used to but it really doesn’t take long to get up to speed nowadays, and overall, I think I rather liked the added pressure of getting on it from the off.
I usually enjoy the Qualifying session and not too often have I felt like I didn’t get everything out of the car. However, in this session, I definitely left my best back in the locker room. I made mistakes and didn’t manage the traffic and tow very well. Something that’s essential at Snetterton. My fastest lap included overtakes in compromised places and avoiding cars left right and centre!
After all that, 6th on the grid was actually not a disaster and I’ve learnt a few more lessons to add to the playbook going forward. Even into my 5th year of racing, there are still so many things to learn and adapt to.
The front 8 cars on the grid were the expected gaggle and were covered by the expected close margins. The order was perhaps less expected with Alistair Weaver putting in a great show to grab the first pole of the season. In general, the LFP motorsport team were flying with 4 of the top 5 spots filled.
Caterham Supersports were running in the graveyard shift for this weekend so by race time, the sun was low in the sky and visibility was reduced. However, the temperatures were still high and the grip levels therefore low!
For the first race of the season it was certainly frantic up front. Mostly it was within fair bounds but there were some chops and jinks that would politely be termed as ‘borderline’ as well.
A novelty for me, was the ability to actually move forward and compete rather than being consumed by the whole field. A few driving tweaks and some dieting over winter have made me more able to race and signs are good that this will help through the season.
I had some good tussles but our groups inability to work together properly meant we lost touch with the lead pack of 4.
Part way through the race, we had our first Code 60 period to clear away a very nasty accident for Gary Weatherall, who ended up sliding on his roof from pit out all the way to the turn 1 gravel.
Code 60 is new this year for our race meetings. It was originally designed for endurance racing as a way to neutralise a field without the need for a safety car to bunch everyone up. The idea being that everyone slows to 60 KPH and sticks there until the flags are put to green once more. The advantages over a safety car being that, theoretically, the gaps between cars are maintained and the incident can be cleared quicker and everything get back to racing sooner.
I made a great restart, overtaking Christian and Henry who didn’t pick up on the green flags quite so quickly. I’m not sure I’ll get that advantage again going forward, but I was smiling in my helmet I can assure you!
At the tail end of the race, I didn’t manage my positioning very well, failed to capitalise on contact between Henry and Christian and failed to make a decent exit out of the final bend. So a potential 4th was instead a 5th place over the line. Still, not a bad start and one place improvement on qualification.
Race 2 was to take place on the hottest day of the year so far, with barmy 25 degrees and bright cloudless skies. This is never a good thing for the tyres or engines but I know what to expect and that makes it easier to manage these days.
Another hectic opening section of the race saw me mired with Mike and Ben arguing figuratively – and literally – on track. This pushed me backwards to a hungry Henry, Christian and Dan and our failure to work together also saw Alistair Weaver catch up on a recovery drive from the back of the field.
At that point, It was always going to be damage limitation and again, lessons learned to store away for future reference.
It was nice to get the final turn correct and overtake over the line for 6th place, just to prove I can actually do it. I can’t recall a last lap where I have managed it before!
So, a weekend that promised much going forward and, although reasonable results, I feel there is more in the tank and I was certainly a whole lot more involved than I was through the whole of the 2016 season.
My only problem is that I know there are at least 4 other drivers who also feel exactly the same and will be looking to rectify things next time out.
Talking of next time out, we’re headed to Spa Francorchamps to race at what has to be a bucket list track for every race fan. Brilliant! I can’t wait to give it a go and will report back how it is in just over a months time.
And so, the season has now run its full circle. It only seems like yesterday that we were heading out on track for the official test back in March. There were a few front running drivers not present on the Supersport grid and so a good result was possible, however, with 37 cars on the grid, that’s never guaranteed.
This was the first event of the season that I’ve only done the Friday test ahead of the weekend. Most of the time, by the morning of Friday I’m just turning in laps pretty much for the sake of it and often times not using all the sessions on offer. It was a strange feeling to try and compress my normal routine into one day but, in reality, it was more than enough to get up to speed.
As ever, I was around 1 second off of the ultimate pace on track, which was disappointing as I tend to go well at Donington, but I wasn’t too worried as I tend to keep to myself over testing and don’t try to chase a tow.
Come qualification, I knew there was a bit more to be had on track and with some careful traffic management, I managed to bag 4th place. It was a great feeling to be back at the pointy end of the field and it was almost a little strange to only see one row of cars ahead on the grid. Brings back good memories!
I made a reasonable start but Mike Evans and his normal rocket ship went down the inside into turn one. I didn’t compensate enough on the speed and, on cold tyres / track, drifted a little wide on the exit. This left an opening for few more cars and cost me some momentum.
By the end of lap one I was in 6th place and in a queue of cars from 1st down to 8th place. I was able to keep up nicely and felt strong. Some battling with Tim Dickens and Mike Evans ended when Mike lost the rear of his car into the old hairpin. I was therefore in a lead pack that was clear of the chasing drivers.
I bided my time early on, happy to wait for the carnage to ensue up front. Donington always leads to close battles and it’s almost impossible to break away due to the effect of the tow. However, the lead drivers kept it all clean and tidy and so there was no option but to try and move forward through the group.
Unfortunately, I miscalculated how much additional speed I would need to do this and also misjudged a few corners which left me too much to do. Tim Dickens found some of his Tracksport magic, and judged these last 10 minutes of his race to perfection. From a position behind me with 10 minutes to go, he’d managed to get to 3rd place by the chequered flag. This is something I’ve got to get better at and will work on my head over the winter to see what I can do.
6th over the line was the result but nose to tail with the entire lead group is better than I have managed this year to date. Although it was a little disappointing coming from the 4th in quali – I knew that was mainly due to other drivers getting blocked and me managing to get a good lap in.
The forecast for Sunday was for rain. I was really looking forward to the race and really felt positive about moving forward. A wet track is something I love and it’s the first propper one we’ve had this year. Off the line and around the first few bends, the visibility was absolutely dire. The worst I’ve ever experienced. I literally couldn’t see the track and the only marker for the correct direction was other cars around me.
Once the queue settled down, I was in around 8th place. I moved forward to around 6th place but at that stage I realised that my car setup was hopelessly understeery around Donington. I’ve made changes through the year to correct oversteer in the car and unfortunately, by doing so, I’ve created a car that can’t corner in the wet. I was something in the order of 5mph slower than I needed to be mid corner and so wasn’t able to compete as I’d hoped.
Whilst others were throwing the car off the track, I was just holding on hoping the track would dry a touch. That wasn’t to be and by the flag I ended up 6th again.
Whilst this was still an OK result, it was a missed opportunity and by the time all the scores had been totted up, I ended the year in 8th place. A couple more points would have seen me in around 5th…
Not a bad season overall and certainly the most competitive grid by a long way in my career to date.
Although funds are now non-existent and debts are growing – I have also decided to do one more year before likely having to hang up the gloves and recover my finances. This now means some busy winter time getting ready for 2017 and I’ve promised myself that I’ll do more to be competitive next year. I much prefer fighting for podiums – I know I have it in me and I want to get back up there spraying the champaign and taking home more pots for the shelves.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
So, we’re rapidly approaching the first race weekend of 2016 for Supersport. We’re heading to Brands Hatch on the 9th and 10th April for what’s surely going to be a fantastic and chaotic weekends racing.
The Supersport grid is over-subscribed for racing at Brands, so we’re having to run a split grid format. That means there will be plenty of Supersport action on track, with 2 qualification sessions and 4 races. Each driver will be part of one qualification session and one race on Saturday and one race on Sunday. The exact races I’ll be in will not be known until after quali and race 1.
Qualification: Sat 9th April 0950 – 1005 Race 1: Sat 9th April 12:00 – 12:30 / 13:45 – 14:15 Race 2: Sun 10th April 12:10 – 12:40 / 16:35 – 17:05
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.