2018 SEASON REVIEW: ALACO MOTORSPORT LOGISTICS CATERHAM SEVEN 270R CHAMPIONSHIP
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.
Pete Walters had been the dominant force in Roadsport on his way to the 2017 championship and this was expected to continue in 2018 when he progressed to Seven 270R. If anyone could stop him, it would be Roadsport runner-up, Jay McCormack. The pair put on an impressive display of how Caterham racing works in the opening round at Snetterton, by letting Caterham newcomer, Jamie Falvey lead the first 25 minutes, only to swamp him at the five minute board, demoting him to third; McCormack taking first blood. And so the scene looked set for the year. Well, for one day anyway, until Falvey, lesson learned, stunned everyone by taking the following day’s win. It was the first of five during the course of the year that ultimately secured the Seven 270R crown for him in his first year of Caterham racing, the first time a new-to Caterham driver has achieved this in ten years.
Whilst the three would settle the championship podium places amongst themselves, they were not the only winners during the year, although it took until just beyond the halfway point of the year before anyone else got a look in when former single-seater ace, Jamie Wingfield snatched one of the two wins at Zandvoort.
Come the following race weekend and there would be drama for all three top drivers, plus Wingfield too. First to fall was Walters in Friday’s test session; one of Camp Corner’s many victims that weekend. Walters now banana-shaped, three-wheel car looked set to sit out the weekend, but with Caterham’s chassis manufacturing plant nearby the Wiltshire circuit, the Caterham trackside support team were able to perform a minor miracle and conducted a major chassis repair at the circuit, enabling Walters to be back on track in time for Saturday’s qualifying. Falvey fell-off next, at Quarry, less dramatically in the opening laps of the first race, resulting in his first DNF and, indeed, first non-podium finish of the year. But it was the final lap of Sunday’s race that had the most impact (literally), when McCormack and Wingfield tangled coming into Camp and crashed heavily out of the lead two positions, promoting Chris Bates to the top of the podium.
Falvey and McCormack’s misfortune played into Walters’ hands and he led the championship going into Thruxton, but would score a DNF immediately, levelling the playing field once again. At 29 years-old, Matt Topham is surprisingly the youngest driver in the series, yet despite his youthful years, kept a mature head and was at last rewarded not just with his first podium, but with a win in the opening Thruxton race, finally capitalising on his improving speed through the season.
Come the final round and Falvey had little to do to win the championship and forth spot nailed it for him, letting the former Royal Marine Commando sit out the final round, leaving Jay McCormack to take the final win of the year securing this second position in the championship from Pete Walters third.
Seven 270R 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).