CATERHAM FESTIVAL REVIEW


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Perfect weather conditions for the first of two all-series meetings for the Caterham Motorsport circus and two unbeaten succumb to the challengers.

BookaTrack.com Caterham Superlight R300 Championship

Reigning champ Jon Walker shows the rest how it’s done……

Paul Wilson’s return to the series looked full of promise when he set pole on Saturday, well ahead of a good performance from SPY Motorsport team-mate Simon Young and reigning champion Jon Walker.

The first race of the weekend for the R300’s was effectively Silverstone’s Race 2; that weekend having been cut short due to horrendous weather conditions. With the grid set from Silverstone’s race result, our pole man from qualifying would be starting dog last in this race; Walker and Andy McMillan lining up on the front row. As the race got underway the front pair never really looked like anyone could challenge them and after a brief spell in the lead, McMillan dropped behind Walker contenting himself with practicing potential overtakes in readiness for the right moment at the end of the race. But a mistake on the penultimate lap put too much distance to Walker and the McMillan challenge faded to nothing, Walker taking victory. A few seconds down the road, McMillan Motorsport’s Jamie Ellwood had fended off Trevor Fowell to take the final podium spot, while Ambitions Racing’s Ollie Taylor came in fifth. However, the drive of the race was really had by that last place man Wilson, who had picked off cars lap after lap to come home 8th.

On Sunday morning Wilson was in his rightful place at the front of the grid, although Walker had signalled his intentions with a blistering time in the earlier free-practice. Wilson’s tenure at the front of the grid was short lived when Walker and Ellwood surged past on the first lap, while McMillan fumbled on the grid dropping himself well down the order. The subsequent battle was little short of epic as several,… well everyone actually, queued up behind to take turn at making up places. McMillan was charging through the queue, much to the expense of David Walley who he shunted off the track at Chapman Curve (McMillan receiving licence points and a reprimand for the action). As the train of cars argued over positions, confusion reigned at Dean when there was contact between team-mates Young and Wilson, spinning the latter out of his position. More team-mate drama would occur between Mike Rowland and James Sharrock, depositing Sharrock in the Yentwood gravel trap to bring out the safety car. This closed up the gaps that had formed, bringing McMillan into striking distance of the front. As racing resumed, he wasted no time about trying to get to it, overhauling first Fowell then Ellwood to take second and then having a very good look at relieving Walker of first. But despite a good effort, it wasn’t to be and Walker duly claimed his second victory of the weekend, McMillan second, Fowell third, Ellwood fourth and a good drive from Walker’s DPR Motorsport team-mate Mark Shaw for fifth.

By contrast to the excitement of the morning’s race, the afternoon affair was more subdued. Walker made a break in the opening lap, giving himself a comfortable margin to set about driving off into the distance, letting the rest squabble over the scraps. Ellwood, Fowell, Wilson, McMillan and Young would all have a good look at the podium until first Ellwood found himself with a ‘box full of neutrals, putting him into retirement, closely followed by McMillan who came off worst as he and Young refused to give in at Tarzan (Young was rewarded with licence points and reprimand). With Paul Fleury picking up the action, Wilson found him fending off yet another team-mate, leaving Fowell to follow in Walker’s wheel tracks with a comfortable second-place. Along the way, the Fauldsport driver also set the R300 lap record, bringing his tally to six. Fleury briefly got the better of Wilson, but not for long, Wilson wasn’t about to go home empty handed after everything he put in to the weekend and was ultimately rewarded with third. A recovering Young followed Fleury home for fifth and a creditable sixth place, her second of the weekend, went to Flick Haigh.

Fowell extends his championship lead over McMillan and Ellwood, though with two drop scores to come into play at the end of the year and a seemingly unstoppable pace, Walker is becoming a threat to Fowell’s dominance.

Avon Tyres Caterham Supersport Championship

MacLachlan’s winning streak comes to an end, but his championship looks ever more secure …

Robert Smith lined up alongside the unbeaten James MacLachlan on the front row with Paul Begley and Iain Forsyth behind, and Nathan Lindop, the other potential MacLachlan beater, a row behind them. A good start from P.I.Motorsport driver Smith was followed by quick laps, showing that he had the pace to beat MacLachlan but keeping him behind proved to be too much of a challenge and with only a few laps gone the distinctive blue DPR Motorsport car was at the front. Smith wasn’t done with him though and pushed him to the line, while Paul Begley kept the pair in his sights. This set the order for the finished, with Iain Forsyth picking up fourth, just ahead of Lindop. Business as usual for MacLachlan.

In the afternoon’s race, Smith kept up the pace, pushing MacLachlan hard and mistakes started to become apparent as the pair left it later and later for braking into Dean, allowing Trackcar’s Begley to stay with them. Smith overhauled MacLachlan and briefly took Begley with him, but MacLachlan reasserted his authority and found his way back to the lead. A hefty thump over the Brook chicane’s kerbs knocked off Begley’s fuel cut-off, cutting his engine and putting him out of the race, leaving MacLachlan and Smith to drive clear of the. Smith retook the lead at mid-distance, MacLachlan occasionally getting his nose past, but starting to struggle with a gear-shift problem (although it did little to slow his lap times). Smith held the line to take the chequered flag, denying MacLachlan for the first time this year though he established the lap record during the course of the battle. A long way behind, Iain Forsyth picked up a lonely third while Don Lamb and Nathan Lindop benefited from a spin by Rob Cooper, giving them fourth and fifth.

MacLachlan’s lead in the championship is starting to look unassailable, but behind him Smith and Lindop are level pegging…

Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport-A

JJ O’Malley puts his title bid back on course …

Failing to put his car on pole was about the only thing JJ O’Malley did wrong over the weekend, well that and hospitalising himself following an accident on a child’s scooter during Caterham’s Saturday night paddock party…

SPY Motorsport’s Richard Boughton took head of the grid for the first time, although it was his team-mate (and O’Malley’s sparring partner at Silverstone) Ian Payne, who made the best start from the second row to take the lead. O’Malley soon put that right and held firm while the others argued over who was going to challenge next. Championship leader Jamie Orton’s day didn’t get any better having qualified a desperate 18th then holing his radiator on lap one putting him out of the race. Meanwhile, credit must go to all the remaining drivers for maintaining such a strong pace despite the challenges, with Fauldsport’s Jonathan Ramsay setting a new lap record before passing Payne for second. DPR Motorsport’s Magd Mohaffel and series returnee Stephen Tucker also made their way to the lead pair, Mohaffel briefly displacing Ramsay before pole-man Boughton found his pace once again and fought back to third, although by now O’Malley and Ramsay were too far ahead for him to catch. At the chequered flag, the order at the front remained unchanged, with Boughton third, Mohaffel fourth and championship contender Graham Johnson fifth after a disappointing race by his standards.

Having paid a visit to A&E overnight, there had been some doubt as to whether O’Malley would be fit to race, but the Trackcars driver lined up on pole unfazed on Sunday afternoon. Ramsay and Boughton challenged him in the opening laps, with Tucker getting in on the action again and Johnson trying to make up for his relatively poor finish. But this time, the pursuing pack did hold themselves up and as the race matured, O’Malley started to create a gap which suddenly doubled when Ramsay spun at Brook leaving Boughton to pick up second, Mohaffel third, Payne fourth and Tucker fifth. Jamie Orton salvaged a very creditable eighth from last place on the grid.

Colards Motorsport’s Johnson now takes the lead of the championship from Orton, but with drop scores taken into account they are level pegging with O’Malley a single point behind and now looking like the man to beat, despite having three no scores on the board.

Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport-B

The title chase hots up with four points separating the top four drivers …

It’s becoming something of a tradition for Steve Day to qualify his car on pole and Rockingham was no different, but Jeremy Webb made a strong start from the behind him to take the lead on the second lap with championship leader Lee Wiggins in third. Webb pulled away while Day, Wiggins and front-row man Chris Lay fought for the runner-up spot. Day succumbed to Wiggins, who started to build a gap between himself and the pack, leaving Day and Lay to fight it out for third. Webb crossed the line for another victory, having kept the pace up to prevent Wiggins from catching him, leaving the Essex man to take second, Day third, Lay fourth and Carlton Brown an impressive fifth having displaced Ben Whibley in the closing laps and establishing the lap record in the process.

An awesome first lap by Reece Somerfield in the second race saw him leap from eighth place to challenge Webb’s lead as soon as the red lights went off, while Wiggins was a first lap casualty in the melee at Yentwood, although he managed to keep it going through the gravel to rejoin. With Somerfield pushing Webb, Whibley was having a better race, troubling Day’s third position. Just as Somerfield finally overhauled Webb to take the lead, the red flag was thrown due to coolant at the Dean hairpin. With the one lap count-back, Somerfield was demoted back to second, though Webb was gracious in victory. Day picked up another third and Whibley fourth. Wiggins charge back through the field was curtailed by the shortened race, only finishing twelfth.

He may not have won (yet), but Day’s consistency has rewarded him with the championship lead, a single point ahead of Wiggins, who in turn is one point ahead of Whibley. Webb completes the top four, a comparatively massive two points adrift, though with drop scores taken into account, he’s on top.

Pistonheads.com Caterham Academy Championship Gp1

Jon Mortimer denies Mike Hart…

The Academy first races are always exciting, both for competitors and spectators, and they didn’t disappoint – but this time it was purely for brilliant racing…

Having won the three sprint rounds, no-one would have bet against Mike Hart putting his car on pole at Rockingham and that’s exactly what he did, with only Merlin Edwards looking like he’d be able to stay in touch. But Hart’s start was poor, Edwards getting a jump on him, followed by Jon Mortimer from the second row. But just one lap in and Edwards made a mistake under the heavy braking at Dean, spinning him out of contention, handing the lead to Mortimer. Hart quickly closed the gap and passed Mortimer by mid distance and that was probably going to be that, but Mortimer thought otherwise and fought back brilliantly to retake the lead and then defend it well during the closing laps while Hart’s attention was diverted to Wes Fox, now in a strong third (and momentarily second) place. A delighted Mortimer took the first Academy win, Hart held firm for second, Fox third and Blaize Rhodes a somewhat distant fourth, the early leader Edwards was rewarded with sixth for his impressive recovery efforts along with fastest lap.

Hart heads the points table, followed by Fox and now Mortimer who has displaced Edwards (well, he displaced himself really) for third.

Pistonheads.com Caterham Academy Championship Gp2

Kurt Brady is still the man to beat, though it was Martin Pass’ day…

By contrast to Gp1, the top three in the Academy Gp2 is a little more open. Kurt Brady had been the fastest man at the start of the year, but he missed the last round and a testing opportunity at Rockingham, so others have taken his place at the top.

Martin Pass, who has promised speed all year, put his blue car on pole with Chris Bingham alongside. Behind them Kurt Brady lined up menacingly. Bingham made the best start, only to be passed by Pass and then, just as Edwards had done in the early Academy race, spin himself out of contention at Dean, frustratingly having to watch the entire field pass before he could rejoin. This was to the benefit of Spencer Horgan from third on the grid and Brady, but Pass had already started to stretch his legs. Brady would make it past Horgan at mid-distance and start to leave him behind, but even being the fastest man on the track wasn’t enough to catch the flying Pass, who took his triumphant first win. Horgan came in third ahead of James Needham and the Tim Abbott. Chris Bingham struggled to get back on terms and finished 19th.

Abbott leads the championship from Pass, with Brady in third, though he remains in front after the single dropped score is taken into account. PistonHeads journo Matt Rigby is demoted to fourth, level pegging with Horgan.

The next outing for all series is at Brands Hatch on 21/22nd August.

Simon Lambert

There were two non-Caterham series competing at the Festival. Mike Williams won the Drayton Manor Park MG Metro Cup on Saturday in a 20 minute race from Andrew Ashton and Tony Howe. Sunday saw the first outing for the Van Diemen Zetecs that make up the Formula Academy Series. Jack Drinkall won the first race and Cavan Corcorcan the second.

For the full results Click Here