2014 SEASON REVIEW: BOOKATRACK.COM CATERHAM SUPERLIGHT R300 CHAMPIONSHIP
R300 champion Aaron Head was in peerless form at Zolder. Photo: www.snappyracers.com
Caterham’s premier championship has firmly established itself as one of the most competitive and exciting race series in the country.
2014 saw the first major change for the series since its inception in 2009. Gone was Caterham’s own 6 speed manual gearbox and in its place came a sequential ‘box from French manufacturer Sadev. Such is the level of competition and driving in the series, the original gearbox had been pushed to its limit. Similarly, Avon’s trusty CR500 was replaced with the ultimate in (unbelievably) road-legal grip, the Avon ZZR. With barely any-tread on its near-slick surface, a wet tyre (Avon ZZS) was introduced for the first time. These changes dropped the average lap time by a staggering two seconds.
Aaron Head, Terry Langley, Danny Winstanley and David Robinson started the year as a significant group of favourites, with Caterham journey-man Lee Wiggins an outside bet.
First blood would go to Winstanley, winning both encounters at Snetterton’s opening weekend. The former TVR racer had burst on to the Caterham scene at the end of 2013, pushing Head to the line at Oulton Park (where Head would record his first R300 victories) and it quickly looked like he would be the class of the field. Meanwhile, Head’s campaign started with a DNF putting the Essex man on the back foot. But for Winstanley, those two races would be the first and last victories of the year and at Donington it was Head and Robinson who were emerging as the class of the field with a win a piece.
As the series moved on to Zolder in Belgium, Head became peerless and took both victories on his way to his first Caterham title. Ironically, Head’s finest moment would come when penalised during a Rockingham race. Having crossed the circuit limit line one too many times, five seconds were added to Head’s time dropping him to second behind Robinson without him knowing. Oblivious to the situation, Head pushed on as hard as ever and lap by lap stretched out the physical gap between himself and the 26 year-old from Buckinghamshire. Incredibly, by the close of the thirty minute race, Head had built up a six-and-a-half second cushion to secure his win; leaving Robinson to come home second which was fast becoming his usual position and that in which he would finish the year, with Winstanley third.
Notable guest drivers during the year included the McLaren Autosport 2013 Young Driver of the Year winner, Matt Parry at Donington and former BTCC star Tom Onslow-Cole at Silverstone; both finding the Caterham competition a tough challenge. Parry drove well, as you would expect for someone tipped for F1, to finish on the podium, though he could only manage a sixth in his second outing. Onslow-Cole found the going even harder with a ninth place finish from a low grid position and a DNF.
Head looks set to defend his title in 2015, with a growing grid of the new specification R300 (to be called R300S, with the original R300 cars making up a second class) likely to provide an even greater challenge as some more quick and experienced racers move up to the amazing machine.