2014 SEASON REVIEW: PISTONHEADS.COM CATERHAM ACADEMY – GROUP 2


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David Webber was the stand-out driver in Group 2 of the Caterham Academy. Photo: SnappyRacers

Just like last year, Group 2 (the equal of Group 1), was dominated by one driver. This year, clearly demonstrating that ‘maturity’ is no hindrance to success, it was 51 year-old Surrey man David Webber. Webber started as he meant to go on, with a brace of wins in the sprints and pole, win and fastest lap at the first race at Oulton.

For Paul Aram, travelling further than anyone to the events from his home in Dalbeattie, Scotland; the back of Webber’s car was becoming a frustratingly familiar sight as he followed him home at each event; the two blue cars generally leaving the pursuing pack well behind. It was not until the second race at Rockingham that the 44 year-old would finally get his moment of glory, following an uncharacteristic mistake by Webber. Normal service would have appeared to have been resumed at Brands Hatch with Webber disappearing into the Kent sunshine followed by Aram, but on the last run to the line, Tim Gascoyne-Day pulled out of Aram’s slipstream to snatch a cheeky second.

Webber was back on top at Croft and as such had put the title out of anyone else’s reach. Credit is due to him (and likewise Calvert from Group 1) for taking to the track at the last round at Silverstone, as although he could not be beaten to the title, a penalty could see him lose it. But of course this did not happen and he finished the year on a high with another win, this time followed home by Rob Ryder, making his third appearance on the podium and doing enough to take third place in the championship behind Aram.

A notable fourth, following a tie-break, went to former Royal Marine, Major Steve McCulley, competing thanks to the efforts of Mission Motorsport – a charity set up to help with the rehabilitation and recuperation of serviceman and woman injured in combat – supported by Caterham. In Afghanistan in May 2011, an IED left McCulley seriously injured, but with the help of the charity he is once again finding his competitive spirit and proving to be quite a talent behind the wheel. Second place to Aram at Rockingham was the highlight of a hastily prepared year and all are hoping that the popular driver will find sufficient sponsorship to continue into Roadsport where he will be a genuine challenger.

Backed by PistonHeads.com; journo Matt Bird had a season of ups and downs. A podium at Blyton was followed by his poorest performance of the year; spinning away eighth on the grid at Oulton (despite having never seen the circuit before the start of the fifteen minute qualifying session) to finish last. Meanwhile, at 73, semi-retired doctor Ozzy Jones became the oldest competitor to take part in the Academy, although commitments kept him away from many events. As he enters his 74th year, Jones is also set to become the oldest competitor in Roadsport too.

The Caterham Academy celebrated its 20th season of competition in 2014 (though 2015 will be celebrated as the 20th anniversary year). In 2015, the 900th person will have become a bona-fide racing driver through the programme.

Simon Lambert