2018 SEASON REVIEW: CARTHROTTLE CATERHAM ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIP – WHITE GROUP
Where the Green Group had succeeded in shaking up the points table after the first round, the White Group triumphed in maintaining order. Well almost. Aintree’s top three drivers, would go on to fill the top three championship positions, though in a slightly different order, sharing all seven available wins between them. In fact, of twenty-one available podium positions during the year, they occupied twenty; although five different drivers actually stood on the podium during the year. We will explain shortly.
Chris Moore’s third place time of 53.22s at the Aintree sprint would have been good enough to win the Green Group, although he would soon be rewarded with four wins during the season on the way to the White Group title. Aintree was won by Caterham Gatwick’s Service Manager, Dan Piper, and when he and Moore mirrored each other’s places at Rockingham for the second of the two Academy sprints, they would go into the first race joint top of the table.
At that point, ultimate championship runner-up Greg Monks was a single point behind, but Brands Hatch was his turn to win and with the added bonus of a point for fastest lap, he now headed the table alone. However, it all changed at the next round, the mid-season event of Snetterton. Startline drama saw Monks collected and delivered into the pit wall, bringing his race, and everyone else’s, to a premature end. A restart devoid of Monks (and Luke Fryer) left Moore and Piper to slug it out without their sparring partner. 26 year-old Moore took his second win of the year and predictably, Piper came home second, though some five seconds adrift with Alan Venters being rewarded for his long trip down from Dunfirmline with the only podium of the year not monopolised by one of the lead three. From this point in Moore would remain undefeated until the final round of the year, by which point he had amassed enough points to put the crown beyond anyone’s reach.
Fittingly, with two fourth place finishes to add to his third and the only other driver aside from Moore and Piper to finish every race in a top ten position, Venters would finish the year fourth (arguably the most frustrating position). Although it was a sizeable gap to the championship podium, it was also well ahead of fifth placed fellow Scot Craig Menzies some ten points further back, who in turn was one point ahead of Tom Power.
At Thruxton, there was no surprise to see Moore and Monks on the front row of the grid, but Piper was well down in tenth. Menzies and Power made up the second row and a good fist of taking the challenge to the leaders, briefly overhauling Monks for a while. Power crossed the line in third but was penalised for track-limits infringements dropping him to sixth. Menzies was promoted in the process and became our fifth podium visitor and trophy recipient, before a late call by the officials penalised him, like Power, for track limit liberties, dropping him behind Power. Piper, who had fought his way to fifth, was duly promoted onto the podium, thereby maintaining what would be a 100% record during the year on his way to third in the championship.
The Academy was supported this year by Car Throttle, the online magazine, with journalist Matt Robinson taking the challenge. A ‘steady’ (which is a nice way of saying slow) start at Aintree saw him finish 21st. He would work up to a personal best of 10th, his goal, at the final round of the year.
The Caterham Academy celebrated its 24th season of competition in 2018. At the time of writing, the 2019 season has sold out with many places for 2020 season already sold.