The top line Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship is all set to provide the fastest racing action of the day at Oulton Park in Cheshire, as Caterham Motorsport makes a welcome return to the venue after a year away. In this series, you really are seeing the best of the best in driving talent from up and down the Caterham ranks, and those that compete and win in this championship are seen as masters of their craft. It’s been an intriguing yet exciting start to the season and this weekend’s third meeting of the season should be no exception.

Caterham’s premier championship has firmly established itself as one of the most competitive and exciting race series in the country. A grid of high quality, experienced, drivers, most of whom have worked their way up through the Caterham ranks, winning races and championships along the way, ensures that the top level of Caterham racing is amongst the most exciting. The Seven 420R is a dedicated race machine and is perhaps the fastest racing formula without the benefit of slicks or wings. As with all Caterham racing, close control of the regulations ensures a level playing field of machinery.

One thing we’ve learned from the opening two events at Silverstone and Croft is that John Byrne is firmly the man that everyone has to contend with as the benchmark. Having taken three wins and a 2nd place so far this year, there’s no doubt that John has validated himself as a favourite for this year’s championship title already. Having also taken the first ever Superpole in the series (more on that later) the extra points to go with it have certainly done his tally no harm and he already holds a substantial 15 point advantage heading to Cheshire this weekend. So, who’s likely to have any chance of stopping him?

William Smith appears to be the closest threat to him, in response to that question. After a tricky beginning at Silverstone, Croft brought better fortunes with a pair of 2nd places to help him jump into P2 in the standings as a result. That said, William will need to begin beating Byrne more regularly to make up the points deficit starting here at Oulton Park but as always it’s much easier said than done. David Henderson comes next, as he is the other man to have clinched a SuperPole this season and is also the reason why John Byrne hasn’t taken a clean sweep of race wins so far. His success in Race 1 at Croft helped him into 3rd in points, however, his fortunes in Race 2 took a nosedive and subsequently saw him finish a lowly 17th.

Of course, they’re not the only ones who could cause a stir up at the front. Tim Dickens and Henry Heaton, two drivers that have known and raced each other since the Academy, hold 4th and 5th in the standings respectively with Dickens picking up the best result so far between them with a 2nd place in the first Silverstone race, narrowly missing out on beating winner Byrne to the flag. Apart from that, both have racked up solid and consistent top 5 and top 10 placings and both at times during this opening phase have shown enough pace to prove they are front running contenders. You can also throw Justin Armstrong into the mix here too, who has posted similar results to help him wind up in 6th place at this stage.

Former double champion Aaron Head hasn’t found the task of returning to a championship he once dominated quite as simple as he may have first anticipated. Indeed, the landscape of the competition he faces as changed and so far his best results have been two 3rd places. A DNF in the first Croft race won’t have helped matters, but Aaron’s never one to give up or back down from a challenge. He’ll be hoping that he can finally return to winning ways in Cheshire, so be sure to keep a close eye on him throughout the day.

As for other contenders, there’s certainly a few more names to throw in. Rob Watts has shown to be pretty strong on his day and he’ll be out to prove his true pace once again, while Chris Aubrey, Richard Ainscough, Russ Olivant and Alexander Koeberle will all be looking for their moments in the spotlight too. Plus, we’re delighted to welcome Sir Chris Hoy once again onto the grid as he prepares for his second meeting of the season. He showed brilliant progress is his pace behind the wheel of a 420R at Silverstone and remained with the leading group all the way through the weekend, and Oulton Park is his local circuit and one he loves competing at. One has to wonder if he may be able to cause an upset or two results wise on this occasion.

New for 2019, the 420R Championship will feature a SuperPole shootout after the main qualifying session, with the top 10 drivers heading out on track in reverse order at intervals to set one flying lap each. The results of the SuperPole shootout will set the top 10 starting positions for Race 1. Fastest time will score 3 points, 2nd fastest gets 2 points and 3rd receives 1 point.

Scott Woodwiss


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