BRSCC HEADS NORTH TO CROFT WITH CATERHAM AND CO


Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire is usually looked on favourably by many drivers as being a flat and fast circuit that promotes high speeds and many overtaking opportunities. For our first visit of 2019 courtesy of the Northern Centre, the BRSCC heads to Croft shortly after the circuit has just received a complete resurfacing, which should prompt many of the existing lap records to be broken at least once over the weekend.

Caterham Motorsport last visited Croft back in 2016 for their penultimate meeting of the season, so it’s been three years since the factory roster of championships made the trip north. Nonetheless, all competitors will be chomping at the bit to get going again, especially after the thrilling opening rounds a few weeks ago at Silverstone. In fact, they were so thrilling that the winning margins of seven of the eight races that weekend produced a combined time gap of just 1.105 seconds!

Starting with the Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship, Will Rossetti marked himself out as an early contender for the title by dominating Race 1, followed by 4th place in Race 2 to see him lead the standings leaving the weekend. This despite each one being brought to a premature halt thanks to incidents forcing a red flag, with Stuart Bell collecting the other race win in the process. Other drivers who threw themselves into the mix for podiums included Angelos Alvanos, Andrew Murgatroyd and Andy Lees, the latter putting in a sterling driver in the second race after problems in the first encounter to charge from 35th to 2nd in the final result! The likes of Lars Alexander Hoffmann, Tom Power and Alan Venters will also be ones to watch too.

The Motul Caterham Seven 270R Championship began the season by producing quite possibly two of the greatest races the series had ever seen. At one stage in Race 2, 29 of the 32 car field were together in what could be considered the “leading group”, showing just how competitive the field was and how well the Silverstone National circuit suited and complimented the style of brillinat racing that Caterhams usually produce. When the dust had settled, it was Matt Sheppard and 2018 Academy Green Group champion Justin Heap that took the spoils of victory, both having to fend off all contenders in the process. There are many drivers who will want to add their name to the list of winners this season, so keep an eye out on front runners Daniel French, James Murphy, Caterham’s very own CEO Graham Macdonald, Tom Allen, Daniel Halstead, Oli Pratt, Nilesh Parmar and Toby Clowes amongst many others. Don’t put a bet on the winners of these races, as there’s a good chance they may not be who you expect!

Putting on an equally energetic display will be the Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship, the ultimate evolution of the original car many drivers began their careers with in the Academy. Much like their Roadsport counterparts, the standout front runners were a little clearer at Silverstone, as a leading group of seven cars battled for the win in both races all weekend. Doing the double was Gordon Sawyer, who narrowly missed out on last year’s title and is working hard to right that wrong this season. Contenders that will be hoping to knock him off the top spot early doors include Jay McCormack, James Beardwell, Pete Walters, Nathan Bell, Andrew Perry and Alan Cooper.

The pinnacle of Caterham racing comes in the form of the Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship with a purpose-built chassis, a 2-litre Ford Duratec engine, sequential gearbox, racing brakes and suspension and more. Even though Danny Winstanley isn’t competing on track this season, his new team DW Motorsport were quick to continue his winning streak as John Byrne clinched the first ever SuperPole followed by two race wins. He managed to hold back the tide of challengers in both races to give the new squad a win, while fellow team driver and 2018 270R champion Jamie Falvey securing a superb 3rd place. Returning champion Aaron Head managed 3rd in Race 1 himself, while Tim Dickens and David Henderson also took home silverware that weekend. Look out for all of the above to be fighting for the win along with Henry Heaton, William Smith, Justin Armstrong, Rob Watts and Alexander Koeberle. One this is for sure with Caterham racing – there’s hardly anything like it in British motorsport!

There’s set to be some tintop action supporting the Caterhams on both days, the first of which being the Hyperdrive ST-XR Challenge. The championship for various Ford XR models is mainly based around circuits such as Oulton Park and Anglesey, however a return to Croft has been prompted by an enjoyable weekend last season. The opening races at Oulton were thrilling with a photo finish in Race 1 followed by a race long battle in the second encounter, all between the same three men – Adam Brown, William Heslop and Greg Speight. All three are back for more in Class A for the Fiesta XR2s this weekend, with Ryan Bowron, Jason Hennefer and Peter Futers heading up the Escort XR3i contingent in Class B. Newcomers Mark and Colin Upton will add to the ever growing Class D for the Fiesta STs alongside Chris Rowlands, Matthew Spencer and Paul Brettell, while Matthew Morton represents Class E for the non-LSD equipped XR2s.

Also appearing on Sunday are the Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship, who also made their first appearance at Silverstone a few weeks ago with two fantastic races. Simon Hill came out on top in both encounters in the Mk5 class, tailed home on both occasions by inaugural class champion James Colbourne. Martyn Walsh, Simon Vercoe, James Howlison and Adam Hance will be amongst the top contenders in an ever growing Mk5 entry, which this weekend sees the welcome return of Paul Blackburn from injury and another newcomer in Robert Howard. Over in the Mk2s, honours at Silverstone were split between two time champ Chris Webb and Matthew Eccles, although both will be chased all weekend by defending champ Tim Hartland, Pete Milne and Spencer Beale. Expect the GTis to light up North Yorkshire on Sunday afternoon!

Scott Woodwiss