Tag Archives: Roadsport

2016 Caterham Motorsport Preview

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

2016 Caterham Academy Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Caterham Roadsport Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Caterham Tracksport Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Caterham Supersport Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Caterham Superlight R300 Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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!

2014 season drawing to a close

Next weekend sees us arrive at the final round of the 2014 Caterham Roadsport Championship. It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached this stage. Snetterton only feels a short time ago, yet we’ve crammed in so much since that weekend back in April.

After the adventures in Croft last time out, I’m now in second place in the championship and, with the way the scoring system works, the chances of me winning outright are pretty much gone. However, there is still very much a fight to be had for 2nd and 3rd place and that’s got to be my primary goal going into the weekend.

Silverstone is such a lottery in a Caterham. The massively wide track, the massively fast corners and the massively long straights all lead to it being a slip-stream focussed circuit. Where we normally have a gaggle of 9 cars in the lead pack, I can see this being more like 15 or so this time out – with everyone capable of working the traffic to spring a surprise.

However, the weather has also turned very Autumnal and a damp track is sure to play a role over the weekend. I’d certainly like to see wet weather to throw a spanner in the works. Although, I’d like it to stop short of the monsoon we had last year for the Academy race!

I can’t wait for the racing. I can’t wait to see friends and family. I can’t wait to see how this big adventure will end up!

  • Sat 18th 10:00 – Qualification
  • Sat 18th 14:40 – Race 1
  • Sun 19th 10:30 – Race 2

Catch all the live timing at http://www.tsl-timing.com (search for Caterham)

See you on track!

Back to Brands

OK. Time for another race weekend. Brands Hatch Indy on 2nd 3rd Aug. Another huge entry means another split grid weekend (booo).

You can follow along with live timing at http://www.tsl-timing.com (search for Caterham over the weekend and you should get a live timing link.)

Quali: Sat 2nd Aug 0900
Race 1: Sat 2nd Aug at either 1145 or 1305
Race 2: Sun 3rd Aug at either 1000 or 1105

(Which races I’m in depends on quali and race 1 result.)

Sounds like it’s going to be busy on the banks over the weekend and weather doesn’t look too bad. Why not pop over and say hi!

Solid weekend at the Rock

What can you do! I have a weekend where I finish 2nd in both my races but still end up losing out valuable points to both Jack and Will! I didn’t make any major errors all weekend but that seems to be par for the course in this years Roadsport championship. Not only can you not make errors, but you also have to be right on your game all the time, or you’re nowhere.

I am endlessly proud that I can even keep up with the guys and girls on the grid, let alone compete right at the pointy end. I’m far too close to the whole thing to really offer an unbiased opinion but I strongly believe that history will eventually show just how fast the young guns at the front of this grid are when they ultimately go on to even bigger and better things.

Rockingham is unusual for Caterhams, in that the tow is pretty irrelevant for 3/4 of the lap. It’s therefore harder to make up ground.

In the car, I was very pleased with my qualifying effort. A couple of missed lap opportunities, but I improved on testing times by 0.7s. However, this left me down in 6th. However, there were only a few 10ths between 2nd and 6th and the split grid over the weekend would mean I’d start 3rd for my first race.

Race 1 was exceptionally hot. I lost a place to Max off the line and by the time I’d managed to get back passed, Dan and Henry had a gap. Rockingham is unusual for Caterhams, in that the tow is pretty irrelevant for 3/4 of the lap. It’s therefore harder to make up ground. For the first half of the race, I treated the tyres gently – trying not to spin up the rears or scrub the fronts too much. At the half-way point, I started to push hard and managed to reel in Dan bit by bit. With 2 laps to go, I was able to get past and then drew out just enough to protect the place.

I was really happy that I’d got the most out of the car and myself. My lap times were consistently within a few 10ths of my quali times.

I could see that Jack was down in 5th at that point, so I tried to make a break. However, it was never going to last.

Race 2 put me up against Jack. A soaking track 30 mins before the race started saw me make a bad tyre choice. I was on wet tyres and the track was almost completely dry by the time the race started. I finally made a good start off the line and held first all the way down to turn 1. However, a mega move by James around the outside of the first hairpin meant I was in second for the first lap. Into lap 2, I had a run out of Yentop and managed to sneak the lead through Chapmans. It’s not a normal overtaking place but a slight mistake by James gave me just enough momentum to pull it off.

I could see that Jack was down in 5th at that point, so I tried to make a break. However, it was never going to last. Jack’s pace was around 1 second faster than me during the race and it didn’t take long for him to cut through the field and pass me for the lead. I tried everything to keep up and felt I was getting a lot out of the car but I just couldn’t hold on and had to watch as he disappeared up the road.

I have to say that a clear 2nd is a great result, but I feel disappointed that I wasn’t able to compete in that race. The tyres didn’t help, but I certainly don’t think they were the whole difference in pace. Jack dealt with the damp areas better, so there’s more to learn there.

Time to re-focus and get ready for more great racing in a few weeks time at Brands Hatch. I really hope that we don’t have another split grid there. We’ve already proved that we love a good close battle and chopping the grid in half meant that we didn’t get that full fun factor.

European fun at Zolder

What a weekend. Well, nearly a week by the time you take into account travelling and testing! Now that we have the pre-requisite National A licence, we can race abroad and Caterham take full advantage of that by offering up one European round each year.

This year, we went to Zolder in Belgium. It’s a track with oodles of history and the place echo’s of past glories. Very few of the drivers present at the weekend would have driven the circuit before, and certainly none of the Roadsport brigade.

There was no doubt about a podium spot – just which one would it be!

I thought that this would lead to a spread out grid – but how wrong I was! If anything, the gaps were smaller than ever. Numerous drivers ended up top of the times through testing and it quickly became clear that it wasn’t clear who had the ultimate pace!

That would all be sorted by the time Qualification arrived. My banker lap was good enough to hold onto the top spot for nearly the whole of qualification, but it was bettered on the final lap by Jack Sales who was suffering from a lack of tow until the final seconds. Will Smith was in 3rd having chosen to go it alone out front and didn’t even need a tow!

Come the race, the three of us pulled away from an extremely hard fought 4th place, who tripped themselves up enough for a gap of 14 seconds by the flag.

So, apart from the possibilities of a stupid mistake or a safety car, there was no doubt about a podium spot – just which one would it be!

It was a race of 2 halves. Off the line, Will shoved it down the inside of Jack and myself. I was able to make it past Jack into the hairpin and then we proceeded to go flat out for lap after lap. Will made a suitable sized whole in the air out in front and I was able to keep up and even make up a little ground on him. Jack was just behind. The gaps yo-yo’d as small mistakes here and there happened. But the pace was fast and consistent. No quarter given! From the outside, it probably looked routine. But in car, it was anything but – with every last bit of grip being screeched out of the baking tarmac.

Just after half way, and just before my little toe finally blistered from the heat in the foot-well, I made a small mistake out of the final chicane and Jack took 2nd place going into turn 1 up the inside. By the end of the lap, I’d got the spot back when Jack locked up his rears going into chicane no. 2. The place swapping meant that Will got a small lead that we never managed to pull back. So, the race was going to be between myself and Jack for 2nd. Another slight error saw Jack pass me round the outside of turn one.

Into the final chicane on the second last lap, I was able to re-pass Jack but the lack of speed out of the corner meant that we were side by side into turn 1 again. This time, I returned the favour for Jack previous move and held on around the outside.

Just the last lap to hold on then! The longest lap of course! I was able to defend all the way to the last corner. However, an over cautious approach and exit saw jack along side out of the corner and on the drag down to the line, I had no idea who had crossed first. In fact, I believed that Jack had nicked it. However, come the podium, I had held on by 0.009s!

Race 2 was a very different affair. Starting from P2 again on a circuit which had just had a soaking meant that nobody knew what the conditions were going to be like. I was on a completely dry setup and, as it transpired, the rear end was very lively with the lack of grip!

Jack took the opportunity to shove it up the inside of turn 1 off the start, leaving Will in 2nd and me in 3rd, defending from a hard charging Henry. I wasn’t able to hold Henry back for long and so slipped into 4th place – looking forward to a drying track which would hopefully come back to my car setup.

However, a nasty accident through turn 1 between Tommo and Christina saw Tommo’s car catch fire dramatically, and a safety car was rightly deployed. With fuel and coolant on the exit of turn 1, it took a long time to clear everything up. The majority of our race was therefore behind the safety car, but the hard working marshals got everything ready just in time for a one lap blast to the flag.

A nasty accident between Tommo and Christina saw Tommo’s car catch fire dramatically.

I made a poor restart but was able to pull back Will through the early part of the lap. I was alongside into the first chicane, but not enough to make a move stick. Into the second chicane, I was again alongside, although the inside line was still very damp and there wasn’t the grip to make anything happen.

Unfortunately, the last move saw me compromised on the way out of the chicane and that meant Max was tight on my tail, looking for a way through. I defended hard for the remainder of the lap and held onto 4th place over the line.

I was pleased with my weekends work. Unfortunately, I finished one place behind Will in each race, and that saw me lose the championship lead. However, I’m only 2 points back, and I quite like the idea of chasing a championship for once!

It was an expensive weekend for some, with 4 cars heading back home in varying states of brokenness. However, for many, it was a great trip across the channel and certainly an experience!

The next round is Rockingham – so it’s time to lay some demons to rest. Feels like time for a win again!

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!