BYRNE ON COURSE TO TAKE CATERHAM 420R TITLE AT BRANDS HATCH THIS WEEKEND


It’s pretty interesting to discover that the fastest championship in the Caterham Motorsport paddock could also provide the simplest conclusion to its title battle, as the Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship heads to the short but rapid Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent to close off the 2019 season in sensational fashion. There may only be two drivers left in the hunt realistically, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be any less intense.

Caterham’s premier championship has firmly established itself as one of the most competitive and exciting race series in the country. A grid of high quality, experienced, drivers, most of whom have worked their way up through the Caterham ranks, winning races and championships along the way, ensures that the top level of Caterham racing is amongst the most exciting. The Seven 420R is a dedicated race machine and is perhaps the fastest racing formula without the benefit of slicks or wings. As with all Caterham racing, close control of the regulations ensures a level playing field of machinery.

For those who have followed the championship this season since the start, they will know that John Byrne has been something of a dominant force all year. Having taken seven wins from twelve races, the only reason why the points are as close as they are is down to two DNFs and a time penalty at Donington Park for track limits that pushed him down the order. As it happens, all of this has culminated in a mere 10 point lead heading to the final rounds, meaning the job’s not quite done yet. On more than one occasion, Byrne has had some form of misfortune which has either hampered his qualifying, Superpole or race efforts, forcing him to charge through from the back of the field. This weekend he could do without another one of those mishaps in order to bank the points he needs to seal the title.

David Henderson, on the other hand, could be the main man to put a halt to those championship aspirations. Only one DNF is on his scorecard so far, with the rest of the results ensuring he’s scored points at all but one of the 12 races run including three wins. David has proven on more than one occasion that he has the pace to keep up with Byrne and race with him one on one, so these two could easily be in a class of their own if allowed. As for Henderson’s title chances, he needs to reel in that 10 point margin, which can be done if he can take the three points for Superpole (without Byrne being present in that segment of qualifying) as well as potentially take both race wins with fastest lap. If Byrne were to finish 3rd in both races in this ideal scenario, this would just be enough to tip the title Henderson’s way.

Another fascinating scrap should be the fight for the final podium place in the standings between former double champion Aaron Head, Tim Dickens and Henry Heaton. On dropped scores, seven points separates the three drivers with only Dickens having taken a race win at Snetterton this season, while Head and Heaton still search for their first of 2019. Head has been the main in form in Superpole having clinched it in the last three weekends in a row, while Heaton has been a constant threat in the leading pack all year. All it takes is one bit of good fortune to give any of these three drivers the advantage. William Smith will also be a driver to watch having also taken a win at Snetterton, as well as remained part of the top 5 in most of this year’s races. If he can find form early on in the weekend, there’s no reason why at least one more win can come his way.

The rest of the top 10 is filled out with drivers that have had their strong moments over the course of 2019, with Alexander Koeberle, Justin Armstrong, Matt Higginson and Chris Aubrey all proving to be consistently running within the top 10, mainly battling amongst themselves but occasionally troubling the leaders. Solid points appear to be their aim to round off the year, with Higginson and Aubrey looking set to face off for 9th place just seven points apart on dropped scores.

Whoever claims the title amongst the 420R ranks will certainly be worthy of the accolade as both Byrne and Henderson have driven superbly all season. Get ready for the fastest thoroughbred Caterham race cars to push on a fantastic racing display to round off another superb year of competition!

Scott Woodwiss