There’s a recurring theme in this year’s Caterham Seven UK Championship – John Byrne turns up, John Byrne dominates and wins both races, John Byrne leaves and goes home – that’s it! Donington Park this weekend presents another chance for his rivals to finally put one over him, and with a boosted entry for the two races on this occasion, it could be his toughest weekend yet – well, potentially….maybe…

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 used in the Seven UK Championship 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. Plus, after its successful introduction last year, the Championship also features a Superpole element of qualifying with bonus points for the top 3 fastest drivers in that session.

It’s getting difficult to find anything else to say about the steamroller that is John Byrne, as no matter what any of his rivals choose to throw at him, he always has a response and bats it away. Not even the kitchen sink has made a dent! On a serious note, his record for 2020 is near flawless – he’s won every single Superpole so far, won all six races and claimed four of the six fastest laps. There’s actually a very strong chance that if he does it again and takes two more victories, he could do a “Danny Winstanley” and elect to watch the Snetterton finale from the comfort of his pit garage, as it would be almost certain that he would have amassed the points required to be unchallenged by anyone in Norfolk. So, we ask the question again – can ANYONE stop him?

Even the answer to that question isn’t quite clear either. Heading to Donington, Stephen Nuttal has managed to draw level on points in 2nd place with Henry Heaton, two drivers who have been the best of the rest and done most of the chasing of Mr Byrne out in front. They’ve both had contrasting fortunes throughout this season, with each suffering an “off weekend” but backing it up with strong podium finishes elsewhere. However, perhaps a temporary truce may need to be enacted to work together in order to try and stop Byrne’s runaway form. Jake Swann-Dixon has been steadily and surely making steps up the order, as is evident from his points scores by going from a pair of 5th places at the start of the season all the way to two podiums at Brands Hatch. This would predict that Donington will give him two 2nd places, but knowing how tough the competition is, that may not be so easy.

Gordon Sawyer briefly managed to keep pace with John Byrne at Brands Hatch and even passed him for the lead at one stage, but couldn’t better a 4th place all weekend in the end. Last year’s 310R champion has certainly had to learn about the top flight of Caterham racing quickly but appears to have the pace to challenge when the chance arises. He’s 7th in points behind Harry Cramer in 5th, whose best result is 6th place so far this year, and Rob Watts in 6th after he’s been involved in plenty of exciting battles up and down the order. Along with these drivers, there’s a few cameo appearances being made this weekend, with welcome returns for Mike Evans, Matt Topham and PT Sportscars boss Ian Payne, all of whom will wish to leave their mark on the Seven UK points table come the end of the weekend. 

Scott Woodwiss


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