2016 SEASON REVIEW – AVON TYRES CATERHAM ROADSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Olivant's determination paid off as he finally snatched the title he'd been denied in the Academy – Photo: SnappyRacers
The Roadsport Championship is the next step on the Caterham ladder for Academy drivers & cars from 2015. With light modifications and a change to track orientated tyres, this enables them to enjoy another year of racing with the friends they have battled against in the hugely successful Academy series. 2016’s Roadsport grid was comprised of a combination of drivers from the two 2015 Academy groups, joined by novice drivers entering, or rejoining Caterham racing.
A bit of horrendous luck during the 2015 Academy season denied Colombian Daniel Quintero a win, but he opened his Roadsport account with victory at the opening round and would go on to rack up a further three throughout the year. Pre-season favourite, Academy champion Rui Ferreira, took the other win that first weekend, one of three in the season, but an uncharacteristic mid-season slump saw the Portuguese driver play only a supporting role in the title hunt. Ferreira would miss the Croft rounds due to business commitments and although that could be accommodated by the Roadsport championship’s two drop-scores, it meant counting a DNF at Zolder, put paid to his championship hopes.
The second weekend of the year took the championship to Anglesey and it was here that Academy runner-up Russ Olivant started his charge to victory. Olivant was no stranger to winning by that point, with two victories the previous year and several fastest laps. Like Quintero, he would go on to win a further three races, putting the pair on four each come the final round. By that time, Quintero had picked up a points-penalty and was lagging behind, but like many drivers he took advantage of Caterham’s points recovery initiative to do his ‘time’ behind the barriers, learning from the marshals about the importance of yellow flags. Points restored he had a fighting chance of overhauling Olivant, but once again, enthusiasm got the better of the 36 year-old and with his best laps put in under yellows, he was disqualified from the race, confirming Olivant as the champion.
Yet much of the excitement was actually happening behind our two leaders. Guy Hawkins joined Roadsport as a novice at Anglesey and after a mid-field first result, found himself on the podium in race two. It was a sign of things to come from the tall guy from Devon. Two podiums at Zolder followed and then, impressively, a brace of wins at Snetterton marking him out as a genuine contender. However, with his two drop-scores already accounted for from missing the first weekend, every result had to count and a DNF at Oulton put paid to any title hopes. Needing to finish just one place behind Rob Watts to secure third in the series, Hawkins did just that at the last round, taking a highly commendable championship trophy. The Donington round was actually won by the other 2016 Academy champion, Andy Perry, who only competed at selected rounds during the year.
The road-legal Roadsport race car is a simple development of the 125bhp Ford Sigma powered 2015 Academy car; its performance significantly enhanced by the addition of a rear-anti roll bar and Avon ZZS road legal track tyres