Every year the outgoing crop of Caterham Academy drivers graduate from their first season of racing ready to progress into the next stage of their fledgeling careers. The natural progression point is into the second step on the Caterham Motorsport ladder, and this season is no exception. 2019 sees many of the drivers moving up into the Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship as they get set for their first doubleheader weekends and a first visit to a European circuit at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium supporting British GT. All in all, an exciting prospect for the drivers in their sophomore year.

The Roadsport Championship sees drivers retain use of the original Academy race car they drove last season, only this time the car is upgraded with a rear anti-roll bar and a set of stickier road legal Avon ZZS tyres. Most, if not all, drivers will be off their rookie plates which in turn will give them the confidence to push a little harder and explore the limits of the upgraded car, with lap times expected to be at least a second quicker than the previous incarnation.

Usually, we’d start by talking about last year’s Academy champions making the ideal next step in their racing careers, however on this occasion that’s not the case. Both Justin Heap (Green Group) and Chris Moore (White Group) have decided to challenge themselves further by skipping straight into the 270R Championship instead, with White Group runner-up Greg Monks also following suit. With Dan Piper electing to sit on the sidelines for this season, where does this leave the rest of the top 3 from both Academy groups?

Staying on to fly the flag will be Green Group podium finishers Lars Alexander Hoffman from Germany (2nd place) and Andrew Murgatroyd (3rd place). Lars will start as the favourite having taken two race wins last season at Castle Combe and Thruxton consecutively, so his desire to go for the championship should be reflected by the pace he’s sure to set. Murgatroyd, meanwhile, only came as close as two 2nd places at the opening Aintree sprint and the first circuit race at Brands Hatch. These two will be expected to set the pace, but there’s plenty of competitors behind them ready to join the battle.

Tom Brown’s consistent finishes in and around the top 5 in the Green Group helped him secure 4th place in the standings in 2018, so he will be hoping the way is clear for him to make his first rostrum visit at some stage this season. Also looking to make an impact will be Will Rossetti, who claimed two 2nd podiums at Brands Hatch and Thruxton while also taking two fastest laps to boot, more than any other driver in the group. Ben Lopez-Appleton started last year strong by winning at Aintree before mixed fortunes all year ended on a high with 3rd place at the Silverstone finale. Additionally, Angelos Alvanos, like Rossetti, was also a constant figure battling for a top 5 finish that saw him best two 4th places for his troubles.

What about contenders hailing from last year’s White Group? With none of the top three present here, top honours have been left to 4th placed Alan Venters to uphold coming into this weekend. Alan was a beacon of consistency throughout the year with his reward being 3rd place at Snetterton for his troubles. He is sure to be joined by Craig Menzies and Tom Power amongst the frontrunners, with Power looking set to build on his 3rd place finish at Thruxton; Tom was also one of the three drivers that made up the winning Super Team at the recent Team Enduro at Silverstone just a few weeks ago. Others to watch as they aim to make progress include Glenn Moule, Trevor Conway, Guy Berryman, Stuart Bell and Ben Buckley.

This is by far one of the most prominent Roadsport entries to date, so there’s no doubt that Silverstone’s National circuit will be a busy place come Saturday morning’s qualifying session. Nevertheless, this will be a championship where an absolute favourite may be hard to spot from the beginning but should come clear as the season progresses.

Scott Woodwiss


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