2016 SEASON REVIEW – ITC COMPLIANCE CATERHAM SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
In an ultra-competitive field, William Smith proved he was Supersport's super man in 2016 – Photo: SnappyRacers
Supersport is the ultimate evolution of the Academy car and like Tracksport beneath it, many drivers also benefit from the convenience of professional team support. The majority of Supersport drivers are now in their fourth year of Caterham racing making them amongst the most experienced and competitive there is.
Having skipped a year of progression in the Caterham ladder to jump to Supersport last season, Suffolk’s William Smith stayed in the formula for a second year to be joined by a number of drivers he first raced against in the 2013 Caterham Academy. That additional year of experience, in which he narrowly missed out on the championship podium, served him well and the former Academy champion dominated the year with nine wins from twelve races, on the way to his second championship crown. By the time the series arrived at Donington for the final weekend’s racing, Smith had the title sewn up and had decided (like Barnes in Tracksport) to race his R300-S instead; leaving Henry Heaton and Jack Brown to fight it out for the two remaining championship trophies.
Heaton, an Academy champion from 2013, started the season the right way, taking one of the wins Smith failed to get, in the opening round at Brands Hatch. However, despite numerous podium finishes, it would be the only time the 25 year-old would take a win, although this cold fact belies how close he often came. Meanwhile, Brown had come to Supersport marked as one to watch after a run of stunning victories in the closing rounds of the 2015 Caterham Tracksport championship. He duly came away from Brands with the lead, but it was to be short lived after a relatively poor second weekend. A mixed bag of results put him two points behind Heaton for the finale. Importantly, Brown had picked up three wins to Heaton’s one during the year, so if it came down to a tie-break he would have the advantage. And so it turned out. A better finish for Heaton in race one (Ben Tuck taking his first win) left him needing to do little other than follow Brown home, but while Brown was on stunning form, Heaton had a scrappy race. Brown took another victory with Heaton just a few cars back, but he had the all-important point for fastest lap which kept him ahead in the championship hunt – until Christian Szaruta went fractionally faster in the dying moments of the race. Heaton was now equal with Brown on points, who took second in the championship on the tie-break. Disappointment for the, undoubtedly super-quick, Yorkshireman for the second year in a row (following a nearly-as-close finale last year) and a superb result for the youngest driver on the grid, showing his father Rob (who finished the year in 28th position) just how it should be done.
Tony Mingoia rounded out the year in twelfth place in the table, equal on points to last year’s Tracksport champion Tim Dickens, who had struggled to find his amazing 2015 form. 51 year-old Mingoia was a race winner in the past and respectable finishes this year kept him ahead of his rivals David Yates and Nick Powell to bag the ‘Silver Sevens’ cup for the highest scoring driver amongst those of more mature years; a challenge fought between no fewer than twenty-four drivers, such was the size of the Supersport grid.
The Supersport cars have made their way up from the Academy from ’08 onwards. Looking identical to the Tracksports, they benefit from a hike in power to 140bhp which helps exploit the most notable new feature, a limited slip differential.