Austrian Michael Gazda on his way to victory at Brands Hatch. Photo: Rick Wilson

The historic Brands Hatch Indy circuit hosted the second race for the Caterham Academy novice drivers last Saturday. While not a recognised Olympic event, the same determination and passion prevailed throughout. Caterham Motorsports Jenny Grace review’s the trials & tribulations….

Academy Group 2

Group 2 started proceedings and it was Michael Gazda who took Pole position followed by the championship leader, Pete Fortune. Max Robinson delivered a personal best performance to line up third on the grid. Danny Killeen had to start from the foot of the field with a ten second penalty after his car was found to be underweight during post qualifying checks.

Once the lights extinguished Fortune leapt off the line, jumped into the lead and set about pulling clear of the chasing pack. Stephen Nuttall momentarily held second although after running wide at Druids Oliver Andrew’s red car quickly found a way through and up into second position after a great start initially from fifth. Nuttall and Andrew diced with one another whilst being hounded by Gazda who stayed glued to the bumper of Nuttall. Gazda choose the inside line down Graham Hill and slid past Nuttall. Then as the trio approached Paddock Hill on the third lap Gazda opted for the outside line and was able to pass Andrew with a perfectly timed and executed manoeuvre bumping him up to second. Gazda set about catching Fortune who had managed to find some clear air, it took several laps to reel Fortune in but the inevitable happened on lap seven. Gazda took the lead and marched into the distance.

Meanwhile Killeen was stampeding up the order catching people unawares and able to glide past. By mid race distance he had tagged onto the back of Paul Croll and Nick Portlock who were having their own private battle. Portlock made an error at Paddock where Killeen was able to pass. Croll then went wide at Druids allowing Killeen to sweep past, stealing seventh from the pair of them. Fortune remained in second until the last lap where Nuttall engaged determination mode and catapulted past him at Clearways. Fortune had been caught in traffic, concentrating on cleanly picking off the backmarkers when Nuttall attacked claiming second and demoting Fortune to third.

Group 2 Result: 1st Michael Gazda, 2nd Stephen Nuttall, 3rd Peter Fortune

Academy Group 1

As the sun beamed down on the track the heavy dark clouds overhead held for the duration of the Group 1 race. Alex Gurr took Pole with a few new faces finding their way to the front of the field. Scott Lawrence lined up in second with youngster Andres Sinclair alongside in third.

Scott Lawrence made the better start and led into the downhill dip of Paddock, however it was Matthew Lawrence (unrelated) who made the best start propelling himself from eighth on the grid up to third before the first lap had been completed. Lawrence (Scott) led for a solitary lap before being demoted to second by Gurr who seemed set on extending his championship lead with another win.

Further down the field David Russell and Chris Buckley succumbed to the complexity of Paddock Hill which caught out Buckley sending him sideways and left Russell with little choice but to tag the ‘green machine’ ending Buckley's race and making Russell's 'Noddy Car' limp to the finish.

With yellow flags out there was no chance to overtake at Paddock, which helped Gurr pull clear and Lawrence (Scott) to try and do the same. Lawrence (Matthew) had alternative arrangements and kept pushing to get closer to his rivals, occasionally pushing a little too far and running through the gravel traps. The clear air Gurr and Lawrence (Scott) had found was not so easy for Lawrence (Matthew) to find as he had to concentrate on defending from Matt Dyer and Nigel Board. Sinclair span off at Surtees dropping him well down the order and out of Lawrence’s way. Board also span but he chose the top of Druids managing to miss the oncoming pack. Dyer made his move for third place stick during lap eight down the inside at Paddock, but a few laps later he also span allowing Lawrence (Matthew) to regain third place. Dyer was far enough ahead of the scrap for 5th, led by Brian Caudwell, not to lose any more places. As the flag fell Gurr secured victory, Lawrence (Scott) held onto second and Lawrence (Matthew) took a valiant third.

Group 1 Result: 1st Alex Gurr, 2nd Scott Lawrence, 3rd Matthew Lawrence

For the full results go to Academy results

The next round takes place at Snetterton on the 1st/2nd September.

Jennifer Grace
Caterham Motorsport


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