Tag Archives: Caterham Roadsport

Caterham Motorsport 2016 Season Review

Academy Green

sr_j2439

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

sr_j3143

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

sr_j5510

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

sr_j0122

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

sr_j1755

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

sr_j4904

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.

sr_j6764

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

SR_J5460
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

SR_J6723
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

SR_J6723 (1)
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

SR_J3988
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

SR_J6363
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

IMG_0211
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!

Is it really all over already?

Ridiculous that we’re already at the end of the 2014 season. Yesterday I was at Snetterton shaking everyone’s hand before the season started and today, I’m home from Silverstone having competed 14 races of relentless battling.

I’m not overly keen on Silverstone International as a track. It’s fun to initially learn but once you’ve found the commitment it needs, ultimately, the pace is not found with driving skill, but with following someone. However, that does lead to some truly epic battles being fought out as clumps of cars circulate and can’t shake each other off and, sure enough, the Roadsport grid put on a great show for the large crowd of spectators that had all turned up to support.

Qualification was soaking wet. Having not driven Silverstone in the wet wince the monsoon of our final Academy race last year, the first part of the session was figuring out if there was any grip anywhere… (there isn’t.) Having made the call at Snetterton and Croft to leave the car very stiff on setup, I again plumped for that decision. However, the front end of the car just wasn’t prepared to grip enough in these conditions and I struggled to get turned while retaining any speed. That left me in 6th on the grid and off the pace. Half way through the session, I was down in 12th.

It was a great battle. It’s always a great battle. One day, I will figure out how to win!

6th is my worst starting position ever. Rockingham would have been 6th but for the fact we had a split grid. However, the track was drying fast in the afternoon and the left side of the grid was far drier than the right. As the lights went out, my car shot forward, whilst those on the right of the track bogged down with wheel spin. That immediately saw me in 3rd place. Once a frustrating combination of yellow flags went away in the early stages, I was free to push on and having made it to the lead I pushed as hard as I could to try and break away from the mob of cars still fighting it out.

That worked, to the tune of 1.5 seconds lead. However, that wasn’t enough to shake off Jack Sales, who had also broken clear out of the pack. Over the following couple of laps, the DRS like tow pulled Jack back to my car and he sat there, waiting! All the time, we were pulling away from the battle for 3rd and all the time, I knew that Jack was just waiting for the last lap board to show!

Last time down hanger straight, I tried to double bluff him and we went into Stowe side by side. But Jack had his nose ahead coming out of the corner. Into Vale I was on the outside. I braked as late as I dared and, as it transpired, too late. I went wide at the corner, but Jack had gone wider, and off the track. However, I couldn’t pull it back around as there wasn’t the space and the outside of the track was still wet. Around club I tried another cut back but the line at Silverstone comes very quickly out the final corner and I ended up a 10th back.

It was a great battle. It’s always a great battle. One day, I will figure out how to win!

Will ended up finishing 7th. This saw the Championship close up dramatically. It was all going down to the last race of the season. That only seemed right after the year we’ve had.

Race 2 saw a very damp track again. This time, the early morning sun and lack of cars running around hadn’t had a chance to create a dry line. But, as the sun got stronger, it was only going to get better as out race went on.

Again, I made the decision to keep the car stiff and at the start of the race. Off the line, I got too much wheel spin and immediately dropped to 6th. Through lap 2 that had seen me slide down to 8th and on lap 3, I started in 9th place. The car was not enjoying the conditions and I was trying too hard to make up the difference. However, as I learned the track conditions and as the drying line appeared, I picked up the pace. Once I’d got back past James and Will, I was able to span the gap that had formed to the battle for 3rd. I used the tow that had been used by Jack the day before to skip past and get to 3rd. However, Dan wasn’t going to sit down and take that and we swapped places once more before I finally got a small gap.

It’s been a fantastic year. I’ve had a brilliant time. There’s nothing I want to do more.

That gap just hung on through the race and although I was catching Jack and Tim out front at the end of the race, I couldn’t get back in contention and I crossed the line in 3rd.

Jack had once again won the race and with Will having only recovered back to 5th, that saw them tied on points. However, countback on number of wins saw Jack take the title. I ended the season 4 points back from the top two. Stats are a bitch! I had a great weekend, with great results, but I still managed to lose 2nd place in the Championship!

It’s been a fantastic year. I’ve had a brilliant time. There’s nothing I want to do more. Best of all, I get to share every weekend with friends and family who love it just as much.

Thank you to EVERYONE who makes this happen. See you next year for more of the same!

Long haul racing – Caterham Roadsports visit Croft

The emotional rollercoaster continues. It’s an incredibly long way up to Croft. Next stop is Newcastle if you overshoot! The circuit is properly old fashioned. Not in a bad way – in a ‘what club motorsport is about’ type of way. Testing went very well and I found the pace quickly. A best of 1:37.29 wasn’t bettered all weekend – although, there are no points for being fast in testing!

Qualification

I found my sea legs and turned in a great final lap to take pole by 0.6s.

No points for qualifying either, but we were all due medals for getting out on track in soaking wet conditions. I haven’t been on track in conditions that bad throughout Roadsports so it was a voyage of discovery!

However, I found my sea legs and turned in a great final lap to take pole by 0.6s. That’s a pretty good start to the weekend.

Race 1

Come the race, the conditions were mainly dry but with some fully damp areas on track. I got  good start and remained side by side with Will through the first section of the lap. I took the outside line at Tower and got my car ahead, however, a damp inside to the corner saw Will slide me off track on the exit and that meant immediately dropping to 5th and the next lap Lee put me back to 6th.

I never managed to shake Lee Bristow from my tail for more than a corner at a time

At this point, things weren’t looking at all good. Through the race, I managed to haul back up to 4th, which turned to 3rd when Jack missed his brake pedal at Sunny in and spun out. I never managed to shake Lee Bristow from my tail for more than a corner at a time and the relentless pressure eventually told on the last lap. Going into the complex, I managed to clip my accelerator and ran wide – letting a podium slip away and ending up 5th. Queue bad mood.

Race 2

Starting 5th and with the top 10 cars all capable of circulating within a few 10ths of each others times, this was always going to be a hard race! Another good get away but nowhere for the car to go saw me slip behind Tim Dickens into 6th. Jack Sales didn’t take long at all to get up to 7th from his 10th place start and the usual balancing act of trying to attack ahead and defend behind started in anger.

Starting 5th and with the top 10 cars all capable of circulating within a few 10ths of each others times, this was always going to be a hard race!

At least 4 times, Jack and I went side by side for extended periods. He’s a master behind the wheel and is a pleasure to race with. It took everything I had to keep him at bay and an opportunistic move around the outside of Tim going into  turn one at least took the relentless pressure from the red machine away for a bit. Not that Tim wasn’t shoving his nose in all the wrong places!

The Roadsport train never really relented but a slightly missed overtake move by Dan meant I could take some speed through the Jim Clark esses and get through to 3rd. Almost immediately, the Sea’s parted as Henry missed his braking point at Sunny in and I got through to 2nd.

I chased down Will and sat on his tail for 2 laps – trying for moves where I could but alway mindful of the previous day and not wanting to throw another result out the window. That left me in 2nd at the line and MUCH happier than the previous day.

With his double win and a fastest lap in race 1, Will has almost two hands on the trophy now. I haven’t done the maths but I’m sure I’ll have at least a mathematical chance at Silverstone. Whilst there’s still a chance – never give up hope!

Solid weekend at Donington Park GP

Donington Park is a fantastic track to drive. It’s extremely fast and flowing and requires a real rhythm and balance to hook the lap together properly. It’s also a track that enables huge slipstreams in a Caterham. Fast entries into long straights (or near straights) means that the lead car is running out of puff pushing through the air, whilst those following in the tow can gain another 6-7mph.

Getting in that tow is vital and the grid tends to bunch up in the races as people can’t escape down the road.

Donington Park is a fantastic track to drive. It’s extremely fast and flowing and requires a real rhythm and balance to hook the lap together properly.

Testing went well, and come qualification on Saturday morning, I found myself in the perfect position on track to be able to set good lap times. During qualification, you don’t know what’s going on around you with times, but I knew I’d got a good banker lap in early so I could push at the end. This I did and I just managed to hold onto pole position with my last lap, ahead of Will Smith and Tim Dickens.

Race 1 was a similar story to Snetterton. A bad opening to the lap (this time, running wide in turn 1) saw me having to get back through the field to the front. 7th out of turn 1 then converted a lap later to 5th, then to 3rd and finally into the lead… but only briefly!

The battles that ensued felt epic in car! I was working as hard as I could to keep a surging Lee Bristow behind for the second half of the race. Lee was obviously hungry as he took bit out of the Cheesemobile going down Craner Curves for the last time – one rear wing gone! Tim and Will had disappeared up the road a little because of this but a move by Tim going into the chicane for the final time left an opportunity to make up another spot. 3 wide into the Melbourne loop and I just managed to nip into second and hold on through Goddards.

Here’s race one for you in all it’s muck and glory!

An early start for race 2 on Sunday morning and a bad weather forecast with ominous clouds saw me go onto tyres with higher tread blocks to hedge bets on whether we were going to get wet. Having also pumped extra fuel into the car to ensure I wasn’t as close to the weight limit as I had been at the end of race 1 (with no rear wing, I was only just over the minimum weight allowed…) and using the older style, heavier wheels meant (as it turned out) that I was 10kg over the ‘safety margin’ at the end of the race!

Mud and water brought on to the track by other racers meant that corner grip was changing hugely lap by lap.

None of that would have mattered had the rain fallen, but it never did. It was very much a race of two halves for me. The start was OK – although Will understeered into me going through turn 1. By the end of the lap I’d got to the lead and wanted to work with Will to try and gap the field. However, it didn’t work out and an on fire Jack Sales consumed the very small gap we had in a couple of corners!

As the race developed, things dried out in general, but mud and water brought on to the track by other racers meant that corner grip was changing hugely lap by lap! Coppice caught out many people as water had been brought onto the braking area and also the apex.

And that’s where things changed. A windscreen full of mud from a three wide group of cars the lap before through the chicane and Lee Bristow attacking from behind saw me brake late into the Melbourne loop. Once that decision had been made, I was heading up the inside of Henry with nothing I could do about it at that stage. Unfortunately, the tight line that I was therefore on didn’t let me scrub off enough speed (looking at the data, the apex speed is the same as previous laps – but the tighter approach meant that was around 5 mph too fast) and, although I tried everything I could to avoid it, Henry’s sweeping line and my understeering line crossed and I hit the side of his exhaust with my front left tyre. It was heavy enough contact that it bumped Henry out wide and he lost 2 places as a result. It also started a string of events where he span at the next corner trying to save a further place.

Lessons to learn for me there. It took the spirit out of my drive as well and from then on I was in a relatively quiet 4th place up to the chequered flag.

I’ve spoken to Henry since the race and I’ve offered my apologies for the incident. You have to trust the people you race against to keep you safe and to be fair on track. I’m sad that I’ve used up at least some of that trust with Henry and I’ll be doing what I can to get it back going forward. The fact we all race so close means a slightly later brake mark, where on your own you’d just wash out a little wide, can cause you much larger problems. As I say, lessons to learn for me – but that is part of the process for everyone.

Here’s the race in full.

Keep up live with Rounds 3 and 4

Here we go again then! This weekend is Donington Park GP for races 3 and 4.

Qualifying: Sat 10th May, 1020
Race 1: Sat 10th May, 1530
Race 2: Sun 11th May, 0955

Timings can vary slightly – so far things have always been slightly earlier than scheduled, but it can go the other way! Looking at the weather this weekend, that could well be the case!

Live commentary from http://www.downforce-radio.co.uk/
Live timing from http://www.tsl-timing.com/ (search for Caterham Roadsport)

I think this one is also getting recorded for the tellebox. I’ll post up when that gets confirmed.

It’s Roadsport time

It’s been a while since my last post. I liked the fact that this blog was a great record of what it’s like to enter and go through your first years racing with the Caterham Academy.

However, that year is now past and a fair few people have asked whether this blog will be updated any more! Well, I can confirm that I will indeed be keeping my blog up to date with race reports and videos post races.

I’ve been testing the new car over winter and trying to work out how to use the extra grip from the tyres and the stiffer setup options available. Not easy when most of the testing has been in the wet!

I would say that it’s gone fairly well. Not stella – but I’ve still got pace and should be able to keep up at least!

Let’s hope that 2014 is as successful as 2013 was. I know whatever happens, it will be another roller-coaster.

Oh, and good luck to all this years Academy entrants. I’ve met some of you and will be keeping an eye on the others through the season!