CATERHAM SEVEN 310R CHAMPIONSHIP PREPARES FOR SNETTERTON FOUR WAY DANCE FOR THE TITLE


The fate of the 2020 Caterham Seven 310R Championship is to be decided this weekend at Snetterton in Norfolk on the 300 circuit and it could well prove to be the most explosive and tense finale of all the championships finishing here. With dropped scores now very much a factor, it’s down to four drivers separated by a mere five points to skirmish for the title and find out who’s left standing on top come the end of the day.

Caterham’s penultimate step on the ladder 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.

Having finished in the top three in his Academy season, Greg Monks has proven that he’s a solid front runner and title contender before. Going to Snetterton, he holds the adjusted points lead with 142 to his name and two wins plus a further four 2nd places. He has been a rock of consistency and good form and his only slip came at Donington last time out when he had to settle for 7th place in the second race that weekend. This will be one of the scores he drops along with a 4th place from Cadwell Park, but what’s key is that his two immediate rivals only have to forfeit one. Tom Grensinger and James Murphy are level on adjusted scores, but if it has to go on countback it’s Tom that’s ahead by way of more race wins (three to Tom compared to two for James). Each has a DNF to count as a dropped round, with Grensinger’s non-finish coming at Brands Hatch while Murphy was an innocent victim in someone else’s accident at Donington Park which forced him out of the first race. James has been in a title-winning position before having captured the Roadsport crown back in 2018, but only just after a last lap drama meant he only captured it thanks to reclaiming a dropped score. He will hope he doesn’t have to do this again and can grab the 310R championship, while Tom will just want to reward the hard work his team Speedworks have put in to give him a strong car all season.

The other man in contention to potentially become king is Lewis Thompson. He has shown great promise as a fast young talent and finally managed to take a first win in Caterhams at Thruxton. All season long he’s been involved in several battles for the lead and there’s every chance that if results swing in his favour and he keeps his nose out of trouble, he could steal the title from underneath the noses of the three drivers ahead of him. He goes into the Snetterton finale five points away from Monks and three back from Grensinger and Murphy and there’s every chance he could make those up with some potent results. He, like Monks, also has to drop two scores having completed every race thus far and he arguably has the best record as he’s never finished a race this year lower than 4th. That shows remarkable consistency and if he can keep that up as well as his cool while others potentially lose theirs, he could jump in and snatch the crown when no-one’s looking.

Outside the title battle, there’s plenty of battles to be had to decide the remaining places in the top ten and every driver within it bar one is present at Snetterton. Don Henshall has decided to call his season early, meaning his equal 7th place after dropped scores will be taken by one of his rivals. It’s actually very close between drivers 5th down to 10th with the prospect of some rather frantic battles to decide who places where come the end of Saturday afternoon. The last top 5 place looks set to be taken by either Chris Moore, James Wingfield or Caterham’s very own CEO turned racing driver Graham MacDonald. Chris has been a constant threat this year to take race wins but there have been times when luck just hasn’t been on his side and results have gone by the wayside. Wingfield has had a slightly subdued 2020 season after previously being a regular contender for wins in the lower championships, and while there’s been much promise he hasn’t quite found it enough to produce a serious threat to the main contenders. Still, a 3rd place with the fastest lap certainly showed he was heading in the right direction and maybe Snetterton is a chance to finish with a flourish. 

As for Graham, it’s clear that his first championship qualifying win on UK soil isn’t too far away. His form does tend to go up and down a little as the season progresses, but he’s proved at both Thruxton and Donington Park that when he and the car are working in harmony, he’s just as quick as the title contenders. We know that Snetterton is the kind of circuit that seems like it was practically built for Caterham racing and he did lead at a fast circuit like Thruxton so – even though we ask the question every single race weekend, maybe, just maybe, it could be his day this time? Matt Sheppard and David Yates will also be chasing hard and hoping to rise higher than 8th and 9th respectively in the final standings with a strong finish to a season which for both of them has left them a little anonymous but still popping up here and there to remind everyone how quick they can be.

Scott Woodwiss