CAN MCCORMACK FINAL CLAIM CATERHAM TITLE IN 310R FINALE AT BRANDS HATCH?


They say that three is the magic number, but this weekend it could prove to be four, as in fourth time lucky for Jay McCormack as he quests to secure the Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship after just missing out in the previous three tiers. He’ll have two very formidable rivals up against him as the season concludes this year at the short yet fast Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent, and all three are proven race winners with the chance to claim glory for themselves.

Caterham’s biggest championship grid sees the ultimate evolution of the Academy car, with drivers and cars now typically entering their fourth year of competition; many with the benefit of professional team support. Looking identical to the Seven 270R that sits below it, the improvements are all under the skin. A power hike to 152bhp is accompanied by a limited slip differential, whilst retaining the Seven 270R’s track biased suspension and Avon ZZS tyres. The result is considered by many to be the best balanced and most enjoyable Caterham ever.

When we move from accrued points to dropped scores, last year’s vice champion Gordon Sawyer tops the table from Jay McCormack, having taken by far the most amount of wins with 7 to his name from this season. Seven also represents the gap at the top, although when it comes to the dropped scores themselves Sawyer can only rely on one as the other is a zero thanks to an Oulton Park DNF. That may be key should a result not go his way, but simply ensuring that he doesn’t lose more than eight points to McCormack all weekend will pretty much give him the title he missed out on in 2018.

Meanwhile, McCormack has had a severe case of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” when it comes to battling for championships. Having come so close in the Academy, Roadsport and 270R campaigns, Jay must surely feel that 2019 is his time and this year has arguably been his strongest year to date in terms of consistency. Yet again he finds himself in this precarious position in the standings and can snatch from under Sawyer’s nose if, as mentioned above, he can find eight more points. This could come if McCormack can win both races with fastest laps and Sawyer doesn’t place higher than two 3rd place finishes. Plus, McCormack can call on dropped points from one of his 5th places from Spa should he hit trouble in one race, giving him as many as 30 back into his total in that scenario. Given that the Roadsport title was settled this way in 2018, don’t be surprised if this situation occurs.

The other man who could steal the glory at the death is young Tom Grensinger. Only 10 points away from Sawyer on dropped scores, Tom has won four times but also finds himself in a similar situation to the championship leader given that he too has one DNF to his name. To win the title, Grensinger needs 11 more points, meaning that two wins and fastest laps would require Sawyer to finish no higher than 4th all weekend to put it in its simplest terms. Of course, anything other than wins means rather different circumstances, but that remains to be calculated should they occur.

From 4th place down to 6th, the positions look fairly settled as there’s substantial gaps between David Yates, Pete Walters and Andrew Perry to ensure that in realistic terms, neither driver is a threat to each other. All three have stood on the podium at least twice this year and could certainly be catalysts in the main title fight if they’re on the pace from qualifying, so watch for them to see if they get in and amongst the championship contenders. The pending scrap for 7th place looks to be an interesting affair between Jake Swann-Dixon and Ben Gillias, as 8th placed Tim Child was not listed as entered in the programme at the time of writing. There’s eight points between them, so a few positions either way in both races could make the difference come Sunday afternoon. Richard Lambert could also be a factor as he’s just a point behind Gillias and may sneak up on both of them if the opportunity arises.

One driver who makes a welcome return to the grid this weekend is Christian Szaruta who makes his first appearance of 2019, albeit he would have wished to do so amongst better circumstances. Sadly, his father Andy passed away recently due to a tragic accident and Christian has elected to race in his honour this weekend. Given that he is a former race winner and championship contender from seasons past, Christian could well be a dark horse for a strong result – one which we’re sure will be a popular one amongst the paddock too. We wish him the best of luck for this weekend.

It always seems to happen – every season the championship battles in the Caterham Motorsport paddock head to the final rounds perfectly balanced and poised to produce a thrilling weekend of racing to decide the fate of the crown. Can Sawyer pick up the title he missed out on last year, will McCormack finally get lucky at his fourth attempt, or will Grensinger transform from young pretender to champion at the final furlong? Let’s find out, shall we?

Scott Woodwiss