2016 SEASON REVIEW – AVON TYRES CATERHAM TRACKSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Anthony Barnes made sure that no-one could best him in Tracksport, with the premise of the top class next year – Photo: SnappyRacers
The second stage of evolution from the Academy car, the progressing Academy drivers are joined by more experienced racers coming into Caterhams at this level, making it a fiercely fought championship. Unlike the lower categories, there is no restriction on professional team support or driver experience.
Anthony Barnes took his first ever win in the final weekend of the 2015 Caterham Roadsport championship, helping him secure the runner-up position for that year. It was a sign of things to come. At the opening weekend of 2016 at Brands Hatch, it was Barnes on the top step of the podium for both races. A further three wins would come his way, but perhaps more impressively, he never finished lower than second. The 27 year-old driver would arrive at Croft with very little to do to make the title his, with a round to spare. Second place in the first race was enough to ensure that he merely needed to finish the second race, yet he still pushed as hard as ever to finish his year with another second place and the crown unassailable.
Barnes tally of five wins and seven seconds makes him a worthy champion, but it identifies that there were nine races he didn’t win, so who did? Championship runner-up, Daniel Bremner, took four of them. At 18 years-old, Bremner was the youngest driver in the entire Caterham field, not just Tracksport, yet his performances suggested a touch of the Verstappen about him. Bad luck and some unfortunate penalties put him on the back foot, so he was unable to challenge Barnes for the lead of the series. However, it was the two ‘occasional’ drivers (rather than championship regulars) that gave Barnes the hardest time. Matthew Lambert had a stunning Caterham debut at his home circuit of the Snetterton. The Mazda MX5 racer took to his father Richard’s Caterham Tracksport like he had been born in it, resulting in two unchallenged wins. Later in the year, former Academy champion Alistair Calvert added to his Tracksport collection of three second-places from four races by winning both outings at Croft. Although they robbed Barnes of the big points, it meant he was still ahead of all his championship rivals, so second-place was as good as a win for him. The final championship podium place was occupied by the Mission Motorsport supported car of Major Steve McCulley. Consistency paid off for the former Royal Marine who was near-fatally injured in Afghanistan, and after a steady start, a slew of top five finishes was enough for him to take the final position.
With Barnes not racing at Donington and Bremner ending his last race in the gravel trap, the door was opened for a new race winner to round out the year. No-one, least of all himself, would have expected Don Henshall to pick up a well-deserved win (following his previous best ever finish the day before). It was the first time the 54 year-old New Zealand driver had ever reached the podium. A sign of things to come like Barnes a year before maybe?…
Tracksport is designed for cars that have typically made their way up from the Academy from ’14 onwards (having adopted the latest specification engine). They are developed into race focused machines, with stiffer suspension and removal of the windscreen and lights (though they can be quickly refitted for road use). For 2017 the series is renamed the Caterham Seven 270R championship to reflect the similar specification Caterham road car.