Tag Archives: R300

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.

Another Bookatrack Outing

I was lucky enough to be invited along to another Bookatrack.com Caterham hire day by one of my best mates.

This one was at the brilliant Silverstone GP track. Only my second time on the full circuit. Last time out, I was in the Academy car, so the added power of the Caterham R300 was useful down the long straights!

Silverstone isn’t renowned for it scenery, but it’s not every day you get to see a La Ferrari in the flesh and even rarer to hear it being thrashed around a track. It sounded absolutely brilliant.

Winter Sun at Brands

So, I accidentally hired a Caterham R300 at Brands Hatch over the weekend. I had gone to Brands to see Grubby and Caroline as Steve was taking out his SuperSnot onto the track.

He had foolishly offered me a drive in the car and I was totally up for seeing what that beast could do on the track. I happened to ask Jonny at Bookatrack whether they had any spare cars at the track – fully expecting him to say no… but sadly for my credit card, he said I could use the spare car!

About 1 second of careful consideration later, I’d handed over my credit card and headed to the driver briefing.

As well as Steve and Caroline, there were some of the 2015 Caterham Academy contingent in attendance having hired out and Academy car for some early track practice.

It was great chatting to them and feeling the excitement of the unknown that they are approaching fast!

It was damp early on after overnight drizzle – but the sun shone hard all day and it dried out pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, after this run out on track, I managed to trip the drive by sensor for noise and the only way to continue was with reduced revs. This did rather blunt the performance of the car but it was still great fun. Round the Brands Indy circuit, it just meant I had loads more gear changes to make!

I took out 3 of the Academists for a quick passenger ride. They all seemed to enjoy the experience. Just a taste of what they have in store over the next couple of years!  Looking back at the video after, with the reduced revs and colder track I was only turning in laps 1.5s faster than the Academy race times! It does feel a whole lot faster though with all the gear changes and the engine noise.

My final treat for the day was Steve coming through on his offer for a drive in the SuperSnot.

I’ve been a passenger in the car before on the road and have been suitably impressed (dare I say, scared!) And now, I had the keys and permission to have fun. This was the car that Steve and I had headed over to Brands Hatch back in 2012 to watch an Academy race, not long after we’d signed up for the 2013 season. And now, I was going to drive it.

It was suitably epic! The noise alone is spectacular. It’s also extremely well screwed together. The engine is a master piece, the gearbox is solid and setup is extremely balanced. The only things that soften the experience are the road seats – which just don’t offer the required support you need – and a fading brake pedal.

I didn’t stay out long. A sizeable moment coming out of Graham Hill bend was enough for me to remember this wasn’t my car and it should be returned in one piece!

The day ended with a golden hour to beat all golden hours. There were 3 BAT cars out on track all circulating fast and it was just like an exclusive test session. Lap after glorious lap. I think I may have circulated for a good 45 mins before finally, reluctantly, handing the car back over to the BAT team.

It hopefully wont be too long before the cheesemobile is in Tracksport spec and I can get out on track and start to learn my new steed. I’m certainly counting down the days.

Orange Army – a day marshalling

As part of the Academy season, you’re encouraged (and bribed just a bit) to volunteer to be a marshal for a day. For your efforts, you’re given an additional upgrade signature on your race licence and also issued 5 bonus points in the overall championship at the end of the season.

Both these factors mean that most people who are going to continue on racing after year 1 duly sign up and take part.

It appears that most years, Jenny at Caterham will arrange one of your meetings to take place on just one day of the weekend. That leaves the other open to do your marshalling. However, I had already arranged my day ahead of learning we could have done it over our Brands Hatch race weekend. This turned out to be a bit of a blessing however! For a start, the Saturday of our race weekend was absolutely baking hot. Lots of those taking part came back cooked medium rare.

Secondly, I’d chosen a top notch race meet to attend, with F3, British GT and also the Caterham R300’s all racing on the GP circuit. This meant a busy weekend on track.

Lastly, as there were far fewer drivers marshalling at this meeting, it felt a bit more special and unique. I wasn’t on a post with another Academy driver so I really had to get stuck in.

On arrival, I handned over my upgrade card, signed on and was issued with a voucher for a free cooked breakfast! Not a bad start to the day. I was allocated my post (no.5) which was up on the entry to Druids.

I was already set up on post as everyone else was arriving. I got chatting away and soon felt pretty happy that I wasn’t going to be left bored or feeling like a spare part! As soon as you let slip you’re a driver, the marshals all light up – safe in the knowledge that their day can be spent taking the piss out of you!

I think I just about held my own. It was great being able to bounce off each other as well chatting about how difficult it is for a marshal to report every incident that happens or to catch every track limits altercation etc. Having been given the opportunity to flag one of the races, I can confirm that it’s a pretty nerve wracking experience for the novice. It’s a hard job to keep up with the race and know who’s in a battle and who’s overtaking for position.

Having now experienced it first hand, it’s hard to justify ever getting annoyed that blue flags aren’t being shown to back-markers! As a driver, it’s also a skill to learn how to race and pay full attention to the flags. A day on the banks working with the team who are there to help keep you safe brings it home just how important a job this is for a driver.

The day was largely uneventful with respect to incidents at druids. There were a few bumps and scrapes, but all involved recovered back into their races. That was, until the F3 race right at the end of the day. I was just chatting to one of the recovery marshals who was saying that sometimes, days just go like this – with nothing much happening. But just as he was saying this, there was a nasty crunching sound behind and I turned to whitness an F3 car flying high through the air, tilting to 90 degrees before landing on its side, and, luckily, back on it’s wheels before heading into the barrier at high speed.

Luckily, the driver was OK and was able to get out of the car under his own steam. The snatch vehicle was sent to retrieve the car and, once the race was over, I was able to help pulling out what remained of the front wing of the car (which had managed to go completely under the tyre barrier) and generally tidy up things ready for the last race of the day.

It was quite shocking to see such a large accident up close. It was all recorded for TV by one very brave camera woman. Apparently, she never budged and the accident was coming straight for her at frightening speed. There was also no barrier to protect her had the car not landed back on the ground. Can’t wait to see the footage on TV next weekend to see if it’s as I remember it!

I’m extremely glad that I got the opportunity to work with the marshals. They do a fantastic, unpaid and often silent job all to enable us drivers to do what we love. We can’t do it without them and I hope I never forget that. A simple wave is all that’s needed as thanks at the end of a race in return – and it’s amazing how many drivers don’t even manage that.

I’ve set myself the target of volunteering to marshal at least one event every year that I race. I hope that resolution is followed better than my new years ones!