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Caterham Motorsport 2016 Season Review

Academy Green

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

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

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

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

Academy White

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roadsport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracksport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supersport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R300

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.