2014 SEASON REVIEW: AVON TYRES CATERHAM SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Mike Hart finally brought home the bacon this season. Photo: www.snappyracers.com
Supersport is the ultimate evolution of the Academy car and like Tracksport beneath it, many drivers also benefit from the convenience of professional team support. The majority of Supersport drivers are now in their fourth year of Caterham racing making them amongst the most experienced and competitive there is.
It has taken five years for Jaguar/Land-Rover test driver Mike Hart to finally win a championship. The Leicestershire driver has always been highly rated by those in the know and missed out during his 2010 Academy year following a penalty in the last round at Brands. Work commitments (as much as honing around in an F-type can be described as work) have hampered his chances in subsequent years, but he has never failed to win during a season; several times. At Zandvoort in 2013, Hart drove from the back of the Supersport grid to take a memorable win from David Robinson.
With 44 cars competing, the 2014 season started in style with Paul Thacker and Adam White taking debut wins in the first two rounds at Snetterton, suggesting the championship could be wide open. Three races at the following Donington weekend brought three more winners, including Steve Day, finally breaking his duck. The Essex driver has been a frequent pole sitter through the years and often featured in the lead battle; a race win had been well overdue. But it was newcomer James Robinson that caused the biggest stir; the novice driver not only took a win at Donington but would also win the next three rounds at Zolder and Rockingham marking him out as a genuine contender against vastly more experienced competition.
Heading into the last weekend, it was regular front-runner Jon Mortimer heading the table, looking for his first championship title. However, a driving penalty at Croft would prove decisive due to the Caterham’s championships ‘points-multiplier’ whereby any MSA penalty points are multiplied by three and removed from the driver’s championship tally. Mortimer’s performances would have been good enough to take him to second in the championship, but as it was the penalty pushed him to third with software developer Robinson finishing the year in a still remarkable second-place given his inexperience.
The season also saw the welcome return of one of Caterham’s most successful drivers, Clive Richards. The 53 year-old tree surgeon has more Caterham titles to his name than anyone else. A rough start to the early rounds dispelled any prospect of adding yet another title, but Richards would soon be back on the podium and challenging for the lead of races. A win eluded him during the year, but fourth in the championship was a good result in such a strong series with so many drivers. It is hoped that Richards will campaign Supersports again in 2015 and you would not bet against a win this time.
The Supersport cars have made their way up from the Academy from ’08 onwards. Looking identical to the Supersports, they benefit from a hike in power to 140bhp which helps exploit the most notable new feature, a limited slip differential. We wonder how long it will take for the novelty of power-sliding to wear off…