AARON HEADS TO SUPERSPORT GLORY


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Aaron Head put in a phenomenal performance at Snett. Photo: www.rachelhorganphotography.com


A total of one hundred and thirty eight Caterhams took to the Snetterton 200 circuit for our BRSCC East Anglian Centre Caterham race weekend. They were also joined by a healthy supporting field of Fiestas, Minis and TVRs of almost every description, with some fantastic racing and a couple of photo finishes keeping the spectators on the edge of their seats!

In the Avon Tyres Caterham Supersport Championship Aaron Head’s performance was phenomenal. He won the first race with nearly nineteen seconds of fresh air between him and second, and then took the second race by over nine seconds. During the first few laps of race one the lead was fought out between DPR Motorsport’s pole-sitter Craig Currie, Aaron Head, and McMillan Motorsport’s Carlton Brown as well as Jeremy Webb. Once Head found his way to the front he stayed there to take the chequered flag. Wiggins, Webb, Currie and Brown fought out the remaining laps with as much enthusiasm as if fighting for the win. Second place went to Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s green beast driven by Lee Wiggins, with his arch nemesis, Jeremy Webb just a fraction behind.

Race two was not so easy to begin with for young Mr Head. Contact on the first lap between Currie and Head at Murrays left Currie with damage and after a trip through the pits, a lap down on the others. Although Head was able to continue, he needed to fight all the way back up from tenth position. Wiggins took the lead, with his mirrors swamped in yellow as both Brown and Webb chased him. Webb momentarily took the lead but Wiggins preferred being ahead and seemed to always find a way through. As the trio danced around swapping positions Head was moving up through the field and by the tenth lap he had not only caught up with the leaders, but managed to overtake all of them and then pull free. He won with a nine second advantage over the chasing pack, while Webb was mugged on the last lap and demoted to fifth as, Wiggins, Brown and Trackcars Sean Byrne (who had only caught the leaders at the end of the race) all slip streamed past him down Bentley’s Straight. Wiggins bagged second, and Brown finished third.

Aaron now leads the championship with a twenty two point lead. Even if he does not race in the finals at Rockingham his current dropped rounds would come back into play, and he would win the championship by just a single point, even if nearest rival Lee Wiggins was to bag two race wins and fastest laps.

The Avon Tyres Caterham Tracksport championship specialises in thrilling finishes, and Snetterton wholly lived up to the championships reputation. Race one finally went the way of young David Robinson as he tip-toed across the line twenty eight thousandths ahead of McMillan Motorsport’s Terry Langley. Earlier in the race Robinson became tangled in the mass activity that was the leading five car battle. Rowan Williams led the first lap from second on the grid, his best performance to date. Langley soon set about overtaking Williams and leading the horde. He positioned his white car just ahead of the black and orange cars of Williams and pole-man Jon Mortimer as they thrashed down the Bentley straight. Mike Hart joined the action with Robinson the odd one out of the otherwise all-McMillan-Motorsport leading pack. Mortimer led, then Langley, then Robinson, then Mortimer again but as they approached the line two by two it was Robinson who pipped Langley and Mortimer who pipped Hart with Williams finishing fifth.

A brief safety car period was called at the start of race two after Robinson missed a gear, causing him to slow with chaos ensuing in the chasing pack. Robinson dropped himself down to nineteenth, but was unscathed while Stuart Leonard, Andy West, Adam White and Oliver Jarratt all retired from the resulting contact. Langley controlled the restart perfectly, although he was unable to pull any clear air from Mortimer, Hart, Kurt Brady or James Needham. On lap seven, the five-car train released a carriage. As they hurtled under the bridge approaching Brundle, Langley tried to defend his lead from Brady, unaware that Mortimer had already pulled alongside the right of Brady after a mega-tow. Langley moved to the right to take up the racing line, misjudging his surroundings and nudging Brady slightly who then in turn nudged Mortimer, sending him into a spin, grazing the barrier. As a result, DPR Motorsport’s Needham took the lead, while Hart followed with Langley and Brady still part of the tight lead pack. Mortimer continued, thundering his way from eighteenth up to sixth. The race drew to a close with another photo style finish; although this time there were three cars in contention. Brady nicked the win by a whisker, with Needham’s nose just a fraction in front of Langley’s. Hart could only watch the drama unfold from his fourth place as the cars in front of him crossed the line three abreast.

In the Dunlop TVR Challenge, Dean Cook asserted his dominance with a fantastic double win. After taking pole on Saturday he never looked back, with a hard charging Andy Race unable to catch him in Saturday’s encounter. John Wilson and Hugh Marshall fought hard for the final position on the podium throughout, however Wilson was able to maintain his place by the narrowest of margins as the pair crossed the line just 0.082 apart.

Marshall made a move stick on Wilson early on in the second race, and set about trying to catch Cook who had once again leapt off into the race lead. However, try as he might Marshall’s pace was just not quite fast enough, with Cook crossing the line 4.5 seconds in front and making his second trip to the top step of the podium of the weekend. Marshall took the last laugh however, snatching the fastest lap honours away from Cook and spoiling his so far perfect race weekend.

In the BookaTrack.com Caterham Superlight R300 Championship Ian Payne’s bright red Borro backed car took pole for Saturday’s race alongside Stuart Simpson’s McMillan Motorsport car. This demoted championship leader Paul Wilson to the second row of the grid alongside his old nemesis James Sharrock. It was Sharrock who made the best start to lead the pack briefly, exchanging the lead with Payne. Wilson’s first attempt at the top spot led the DPR Motorsport driver to run wide at Brundle handing it straight back to Payne, but he wasn’t going to give up and another mistake, this time on the part of Payne, handed back Wilson the lead and a crucial tiny gap. This was enough for the remarkably consistent Sales Director from Newbury to build an unassailable lead. Fortunately for the spectators, the fight for second involved as many as eight cars, with Payne ultimately winning through to follow Wilson across the line. Third place and a first R300 podium finish was just reward for an excellent drive by Flick Haigh, getting the better of Mark Shaw and Fauldsport team-mate Sharrock for the position.

Despite an early safety car period and a good restart by Wilson, in the second outing, the pack weren’t going to give him breathing space this time. A lead group quickly emerged with Payne leading, then Wilson, then Payne, then Wilson and so on. When Shaw snuck between the two, it signalled the demise of the Wilson challenge and he would steadily work his way to the back of the seven-car group. Shaw took his turn swapping the lead with SPY Motorsport’s Payne. On the final lap, Shaw was ahead at the 'Bombhole', but Payne got the better of the Scot to out-drag him across the line. Meanwhile, contact between Haigh and Sharrock promoted Fauldsport team-mate (and new lap record holder) Adam Balon into a well-deserved third place for his first time on the podium.

The first Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport race was dominated by Brad Smith who was able to make a clear getaway from pole, while Elliott Norris found himself battling with the other Smith (Rob) and for the first time this season ‘Miss Daisy’ driven by Mark Lewis. Adrian Hume challenged guest driver and PistonHeads Editor Dan Trent for fifth. The pair ran extremely close together for the duration and a wee bit too close at Murrays on the last lap. Trent wasn’t able to finish and Hume was disqualified. Norris fought off the advances from behind finishing nine seconds clear of Lewis who stepped onto the podium for the first time this season.

Race two got off to a spectacular start with three abreast into Riches. Neither Norris nor the two Smith’s wanted to concede the place. Smith (Rob) emerged in front until the exit of Nelson where Norris squeezed past. The local man held the lead for the first couple of laps but once Smith (Brad) had made a move and made it stick, he started to pull some clear air. Although Norris had to defend from the other Smith and Lewis he had his sights set on victory and knew he couldn’t let Smith (Brad) get away. Norris gradually reeled in Smith (Brad) helped by a spin from Smith (Rob) which sent him from third to tenth on lap five. By lap ten Norris had caught Smith (Brad) and set about attacking for the lead. The pair hugged the pit wall and Norris catapulted past Smith using his tow to his advantage. Smith (Brad) played the tactical game, waiting behind Norris until the last lap. Smith got past Norris as the pair raced down the Bentley Straight. Smith kept his nose in front for the final few corners and as the pair crossed the line, side by side it was Smith that took the win. Far behind, Jake Bradshaw had been squabbling with Lewis for third but after a mistake and spin from Lewis on the penultimate lap, he was able to breathe easy as the recovering Smith (Rob) was twelve seconds adrift.

The Motorsport News Ford Fiesta Junior Championship pack was once again lead by Charles Ladell, the young driver from Brightlingsea qualified on pole, just half a second ahead of Ben Wilcox, with the Daniels Motorsport prepared James ‘JJ’ Ross rounding out the top 3 just 0.8 of a second behind the pole man. Ross made sure to give Ladell a run for his money, and chased him hard for the lead throughout race one Ross held onto Ladell’s bumper, but appeared unable to make a move stick and was eventually forced to settle for second place as Ladell took the chequered flag 2.5 seconds ahead.

In race two Ross once again pushed Ladell hard right to the flag, however a mistake cost him a couple of seconds that he could never re-gain, leaving Ladell to come home in first again. Ben Wilcox took the final podium step in both races to secure another good championship points haul.

Missing from the Fiesta Junior grid this week was Bobby Thompson, who had become the first Fiesta Junior driver to graduate up into the Fiesta Championship series. He started his campaign in the Dunlop Ford Fiesta Championship steadily with an eighteenth and a twenty-first position finish, not helped by problems in qualifying resulting with him starting from the back end of the grid.

At the head of the field, Jason Cooper led from Nicholas Bowers and John Langridge in qualifying for the ST’s, and this result was repeated in the first race. In fact the top five cars remained in the same positions in which they started, however just five seconds separated the top four cars as they crossed the finishing line, with Cooper able to pull out a large enough gap to Bowers to secure the win. The first car to mess up the perfect order was Daniels Motorsport’s David Abbott, who scythed through the pack from eleventh on the grid up to sixth at the line, just holding off Andrew Taylor in seventh.

In the second race, however it was all change at the front, with Cooper falling back to fifth at the start. This allowed Bowers to stretch his legs in clear air at the front. However, his wing-mirrors never cleared as John Langridge did his best to pressure Bowers into a mistake, pushing him hard and running for the majority of the race less than a second behind the leader. Cooper was able to recover to fourth position, but he couldn’t find his way back past Aaron Trigwell, who was tucked up behind Langridge in third. However, the points accrued by Jason Cooper were enough to secure him the ST title so congratulations to him. Congratulations are also due to Nik Barton, whose two classes wins were enough to confirm him as the Fiesta Zetec champion for 2012.

The Octane Caterham Academy Group One’s initial race was red flagged after a first lap incident, with Mathew Lawrence, Tor McIlroy and Tim Younge unable to re-join. Gurr leapt off the line for the restart and set about finding clear air. Brian Caudwell followed in second with a margin in front and behind. Despite having a lonely race, he secured his first podium finish and moves up to third in the championship. With the top two untouchable out front, the battle for third became the main focus. Disappointingly, Tony Mingoia, who had been leading the scrap for third, was forced to retire due to his exhaust silencer departing from his car and tripping the noise meters. Taking up the fight, Nigel Board, Zoli Csabai and Tristan Judge exchanged places more times than they could recall. Going into the latter part of the race, Judge was lapping faster than the others, allowing him to head the squabble momentarily but Board pounced on the last lap, making his move up the inside at Brundle for the final podium position.

Group Two also had to restart after a first lap incident as Michael Coulten spun from third position with only the unfortunate Alex Taylor unable to avoid him. The restart allowed Nick Portlock to make amends for a dismal first effort off the line; his second attempt enabled him to tag onto the back of the leaders. Kiwi Danny Killeen made the best getaway, chased into Riches by Austrian Michael Gazda, Welshman Pete Fortune and Stockport’s finest, Stephen Nuttall. The quartet for the lead quickly split into two pairs. Fortune held the lead by the second lap but Gazda wanted a piece of the action and stuck to his rear panel like glue, while Killeen and Nuttall diced for third. Fortune became plagued with the green machine of Gazda in his mirrors and battle commenced narrowing the gap between them and their rivals. On lap eight of ten Fortune missed a gear at the exit of Brundle and the train of chasing cars streamed past dropping him back to a frustrating seventh. Meanwhile Nuttall, Killeen and Gazda continued to fight for victor. Killeen initially held the lead but Nuttall nudged past heading into Riches, holding the inside line. Gazda was slowly pushed to the back of the pack as Portlock motivated himself with a “get a move on; this could be a podium” drive along the Bentley straight, into Brundle and out of Nelson to snatch third when it counted, while ahead Nuttall and Killeen held station for the top two places at the flag.

Finally, the BRSCC Mighty Minis championship was exciting as always with Jonathan Lewis leading the field around in their one race on the Sunday. Lewis held the lead from Chris Slade, who battled race-long to pass Lewis, but was unfortunately never able to make that last push to get past and make the move count. Steven Rideout came home third, but it was by no means a simple Sunday drive for him, as he had to fight off Justin Cooper in a fierce dogfight. The pair eventually took the flag separated by just one thousandth of a second, with Rideout earning his place on the podium after a drag-race to the line.

The podium in the Super Mighty Minis was equally as competitive, with the top three separated by just 0.6 seconds as the flag dropped. Gary Patterson managed to hold his cool under the immense pressure from the chasing Elliot Stafford & Chris Morgan. Stafford dropped back through from the lead down to third as the race drew on, however a last lap charge saw him able to recover his second place from fastest lap setter Chris Morgan.

You can view all the results at SNETTERTON RESULTS

George Simmons