CATERHAM SEVEN 270R RACERS SPEED BACK TO OULTON PARK


We’re only two race meetings deep into the 2019 edition of the Motul Caterham Seven 270R Championship and already it’s shaping up to be a classic season with some of the best racing we’ve seen produced at the first two venues already. Now, after a year’s absence, we’re heading back to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the usual one day thrash as the battle for the championship title looks to intensify further.

The Seven 270R is firmly established as the ‘coming-of-age’ championship for those progressing out of the Caterham Academy, through the Roadsport championship and now into the third year of Caterham racing. Unlike the lower categories, there is no restriction on professional team support or driver experience. The Seven 270R race cars have typically made their way up from the Academy ‘17 (or slightly earlier). They have now developed into race focused machines, with stiffer suspension and removal of the windscreen and lights (though they can be quickly refitted for road use) giving them a very similar look to their Seven 310R big brother.

It’s not often that someone in only their second season of racing full stop is top of the table in the Seven 270R Championship after just two events, but that’s exactly the car so far this year with Justin Heap. Last year’s Academy Green Group champion has taken to the upgraded car incredibly quickly, having taken a finish in each of the top four positions across the opening two weekends. The best of these came in a phenomenal second race at Silverstone where Justin was the main benefactor from an unfortunate last lap incident to take victory. Thanks to his trouble-free results, this sees him lead the way heading to Cheshire but given the level of competition he’s facing, staying there will be easier said than done.

The closest threat to him in the standings so far is Daniel Halstead, who couldn’t be removed from the top step all weekend at Croft last time out. He charged to two superb victories, but in typical Caterham fashion had to beat his closest challengers to the flag in a drag race to the line.

Daniel French lies 3rd in the standings, with the former Academy Green Group champion fired up since the Caterham Team Enduro at Silverstone in March. While there’s no doubting his outright pace, having come close to the Roadsport title last year, it’s fair to say he hasn’t been as dominant as he would have liked. Certainly, his 4th place at in the opening Silverstone race was strong, but getting caught up in the second race’s last lap incident didn’t help matters. He was able to rebound with two 2nd places at Croft, so Daniel will be hoping that from here on out that it’s all positive going forwards and that he can build on his current championship position. Neil Frasier, currently in 4th, has also had an up and down start to 2019 with a pair of 3rd places interwoven between two less than satisfactory results.

In 6th position, Toby Clowes will be hoping to score some better results than the pair of P6s he’s picked up so far, with Greg Monks also looking to keep in touch with fellow 2018 Academy graduate Heap from 7th place; a 5th place finish at Silverstone is his best to date which shows that there’s still untapped potential left to unlock. Then we find James Murphy in 7th position – last year’s Roadsport champion hasn’t had the start to the year that he and quite possibly many people would have anticipated. Instead, he’s achieved 3rd, 6th with the fastest lap, 8th and a DNF and all this combined leaves him with work to do if he’s to be a serious title challenger. Nevertheless, he earned the nickname Superman thanks to some incredible drives from deep in the field last season and we’ve already seen shades of the same thing at times so far this year, so maybe a clean run of top results could put him back on the right track.

Further down the order are names who are no strangers to running at the front but for one reason or another just haven’t completely had the rub of the green thus far. The likes of Oli Pratt (11th), Matt Sheppard (12th), Chris Moore (last year’s Academy White Group champion, 17th) and even Caterham’s very own CEO himself Graham Macdonald (24th) are much further down the order than they would be comfortable with and will be looking to use Oulton Park as the starting point for their fight back up the standings.

The racing this season here in the Seven 270R Championship has been nothing short of spellbinding so far and Oulton Park always promises and delivers a great race or two. Given how competitive this season’s lineup is already proving to be, you’d be foolish to think that this occasion will be anything different!

Scott Woodwiss