CATERHAM ROADSPORT ROARS BACK INTO ACTION WITH OULTON PARK RETURN
The Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship always provides a fascinating spectacle as drivers fresh from graduation of the Academy lock in for their second season of competition against a mix of familiar and not-so-familiar names on track once again. This time, a welcome return to a firm drivers’ favourite is on the cards as Oulton Park plays host to what’s set to be another spectacular day of Caterham racing in Cheshire.
As mentioned, the Roadsport championship is the next step on the Caterham ladder for the Academy drivers and their cars from the 2018 season, enabling them to enjoy another year of racing with the friends they have battled against in the hugely successful Academy series. With only light modifications, the Roadsport race car is a simple development of the 2018 Academy car; its performance significantly enhanced by the addition of a rear-anti roll bar and a switch to track orientated, yet still road legal, Avon ZZS tyres.
To say that the 2019 edition of the Roadsport Championship has been competitive is something of a huge understatement, as so far we’ve seen four different race winners from the first four races. This is a clear signal that in this championship, as is usually the case, consistency is the name of the game and scoring well when your rivals don’t could be the difference between tasting success and just losing out. Still, it’s a close run affair at the top of the table at this stage as German ace Lars Hoffman currently leads the way on 129 points with top 5 finishes in all four races so far including a win and 2nd place at the previous rounds at Croft. Lars was a regular sight towards the front of last year’s Academy field in his respective group, so it’s no surprise to see him in the running for the top spot at this early stage. Stuart Bell comes next in 2nd after beginning the year with 6th place and a win at an action packed Silverstone, while he benefitted from a red flag in the first race at Croft to steal a top 5 in the end followed by a podium in 3rd place. This suggests that once Stuart’s pace is fully wound up he’s capable of scoring a big result, so let’s see what he can produce here at Oulton Park.
Angelos Alvanos is an impressive 3rd place despite the fact that he’s yet to win a race yet, reinforcing our point about consistency earlier. So far he’s picked up two 3rd places, a 5th and a 6th and this leaves him just five points away from the top of the standings. Therefore, he could be a danger man for those around him contending for the title, as any slip from at least one of them could see Angelos swoop in and steal the points as a result. Andrew Murgatroyd will probably feel that he should be a little closer to the top than he currently is, as he is perched in 4th place but 26 points away from the lead already. His results mostly suggest that he too should be considered for a title charge with a win, two second places and also two fastest laps (more than anyone else so far), but a retirement in Silverstone’s second race has left him playing catch up and while Croft allowed him to do that, he’ll need to make sure Oulton Park this weekend goes somewhat trouble free this time. Also, don’t bet against him as a shout for pole position in qualifying too as his superb single lap pace is evident.
Giuseppe Felet has done incredibly well so far to bank enough points to put him 5th in the standings so far even though his best result has been three 10th place finishes, as he’s kept a cool head whilst a number of the arguably faster drivers appear to have lost theirs along the way. Andy Lees has looked incredibly strong at points as he was able to put in some sterling drives at Silverstone, particularly a run from the back of the grid to 2nd place in the second race that weekend and the fastest lap to boot. Just behind Lees in the points is where we find Will Rossetti who is the other race winner of the season having dominated the opening Silverstone encounter in somewhat un-Caterham-like fashion and while he too has been a strong presence towards the front, a retirement at Croft (just like Murgatroyd) has seen him drop back with work to do to climb up the order again.
Along with all of the above names, other drivers such as Tom Power, Tom Brown, Ben Buckley, Ben Lopez-Appleton and Trevor Conway are also ones to watch out for as they will surely want to throw themselves into the mix and stir up the order a little more. Nonetheless, there’s one question heading into this weekend that requires an answer – will we continue the run of a different winner in each race here in Cheshire, or will someone finally break the deadlock and clinch their second top step visit of the season?