2015 SEASON REVIEW: GQ CATERHAM ACADEMY – WHITE GROUP


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Such was Perry's pace, he didn't always need all 4 wheels on the ground! Photo: SnappyRacers

Whereas the Green Group’s winner Rui Ferreira had things nicely wrapped up by the final round, the White Group’s eventual champion Andy Perry thought he would take it to the wire. In fairness, having been at the top of the table all year, it was only really the hard work of Russ Olivant that put the pressure on, with the 43 year-old from Rickmansworth really coming alive in the second half of the season to allow him to catch Perry. A repeat of the penultimate round, which saw Olivant ahead at the chequered flag, would have meant a result determined by a tie-break. However, second was all that Perry needed and second he scored, taking his first fastest lap extra point along the way too. Oddly, he chose to celebrate Pete Townshend style in the non-championship Academy bonus race later the same day! Meanwhile, Mrs Olivant will be looking to go one better than Russ when she takes to the Academy grid next year.

Londoner Lee Collins took the third spot on the podium, helped a little Daniel Quintero’s misfortune; the Colombian driver was leading at Brands Hatch when he and Daniel Bremner tangled, dropping both out of the race. Bremner was disqualified for the contact, putting an end to what had started as an excellent year for the Scottish youngster; at 18, the youngest person in Academy this year. After a steady start, Bremner went on to win the tricky Blyton sprint and then the first race at Rockingham, which will for the third time in a row host the first races of the Academy season again next year. Unlike all the other Caterham race weekends, the first Academy race is held in isolation away from the other championships, enabling the Caterham support team to focus purely on the novices as they turn into bona-fide racing drivers. Following Brands, Bremner failed to score at any of the remaining rounds, dropping him well down the points table from what seemed like an almost certain podium finish. Seven years the junior of the next youngest driver, 25 year-old Alan Cooper, Bremner was an anomaly on the Academy grid which once again saw an average age of 40 years old.

The Academy was supported this year by the illustrious men’s lifestyle magazine GQ. The GQ Academy car was liveried in a unique ‘material and stitching’ type wrap. Journalist Conrad Quilty-Harper took on driving responsibilities after the first round, but suffered from a lack of time in the car (never testing). The bonus race after the final round proved the point when Quilty-Harper found himself halfway up the grid and stayed there during the race. The combined efforts of Quilty-Harper and colleague Matt Jones gave the GQ car itself 16th place in the championship.

The Caterham Academy celebrated its 21st season of competition in 2015. At the time of writing, the 2016 season has sold out and nearly half the places for 2017 have been sold. In the process of filling the grid for 2017, Caterham will sell the 1000th Academy car.

Simon Lambert