CATERHAM ZOLDER EUROFEST


CATEGORIES:

Rob Smith leads the pack at a sunny Zolder. Photo: Caterham Motorsport

A new circuit for every competitor is a rare event, but that’s partly what made Caterham’s Eurofest at Zolder last weekend so special!

BookaTrack.com Caterham Superlight R300 Championship

Fowell leads the title chase, but lets a race win slip……

Ambitions Racing’s Ollie Taylor emerged top in Saturday’s free practice, nudging out champion Jon Walker, but come qualifying Andy McMillan surpassed Taylor’s best to put his car on pole with Taylor alongside him. Championship leader Fowell was a lowly 11th.

In the searing heat of the afternoon, relative novice Jon Packer made the best of his excellent fourth place grid slot to tuck up behind McMillan, the pair making a break on the first lap, Packer driving his socks off to stay with the vastly more experienced McMillan. Jamie Ellwood, also from the McMillan Motorsport camp, made a strong start, muscling past Taylor in the first corner (and receiving a formal reprimand for it), before fending off the attention of Paul Fleury, until a coolant leak forced Fleury’s retirement. The lead pair soon became a pack of seven as Fowell and others found their way through to the front, including Fowell’s Fauldsport team-mate Paul Brannan until a damaged radiator from indiscretion forced his retirement.

When McMillan posted a slow lap, Packer and Taylor made their move, albeit short-lived. Packer took the lead and Taylor second until the pair bounced off each other in the (apparently too kleine) Kleine Chicane, pushing Taylor down to fourth and Packer out completely. As both cars were judged to be effectively off the circuit prior to meeting in the middle of it on their rapid return, both took equal blame and equal reprimands for their trouble. Fowell and Ellwood benefited from their exuberance to take the win and second place respectively, with a recovering McMillan on the final podium step.

Packer was again denied his chance to shine when a first lap incident with his DPR Motorsport team-mate Walker punted him into retirement. A blistering start by McMillan saw him take the lead on the first lap, shadowed by Fowell. The pair quickly pulled clear of the pursuing pack led by Taylor, until Fowell’s former Roadsport-B sparring partner Gordon Sawyer nabbed the position.

Meanwhile, Brannan, who had started nineteenth following his race one retirement, was carving through the pack passing first Ellwood and Mike Rowland then a dismayed Sawyer as he ran out of fuel. At the front, Fowell passed McMillan for the lead having timed his move to perfection, but shortly after his braking less so, plunging through the gravel at the Gilles Villeneuve chicane, just ½ a lap from home, handing the win to McMillan and having to make do with second. A triumphant Brannan came home third ahead of a creditable fourth place for Mike Rowland.

Fowell retains the championship lead and with McMillan the pair having set the pace for R300s. Ollie Taylor joins a select group of now four drivers that hold R300 lap records.

Avon Tyres Caterham Supersport Championship

Is James MacLachlan unstoppable? Results say no, rivals say yes…

Nathan Lindop and Rob Smith lined up ahead of unbeaten title leader James MacLachlan for the first Supersport race. Rob Smith was able to hold back MacLachlan for a few laps before the DPR Motorsport driver edged ahead and once there, was aided by the squabble beaten Smith and Lindop, allowing him some breathing space. Lindop won through and caught MacLachlan convincingly but ran out of laps in which to mount a concerted challenge, MacLachlan taking the chequered flag first, as is now customary. PIM Racing’s Smith picking up third ahead of an impressive fourth position for race-returnee Stephen Appleton.

In race two, the podium trio pulled clear of the rest of the pack within a couple of laps and set about a titanic battle to arrange the trophy order. Once again, Smith and Lindop set faster laps than MacLachlan, just as they had done in qualifying and race one, but still failed to overcome the Londoner. MacLachlan secured his unbroken winning streak and Smith took the runner-up spot, with Lindop in third; less than four tenths of a second covering the three.

MacLachlan obviously leads the title chase, with a consistent Rod Arnold a full thirty points behind and falling pray to the ever-increasing speed of newcomer Nathan Lindop.

Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport-A

Once again rain plays its part and produces another spectacular win…

JJ O’Malley’s pole position and strong start were short-lived when a blown fuse ended his race after just three laps. Graham Johnson and Magd Mohaffel had already passed the Irishman by this point and Johnson set about extending an unassailable lead. Jamie Orton inherited third, illustrating the blistering start he’d had from eighth which he wasn’t about to let Mohaffel spoil. He quickly took up second place, pushing Mohaffel into the clutches of Orton’s Fauldsport team-mate Jonathan Ramsay, whose challenge was curtailed by a spin that sent him back down the field. With Johnson being boringly brilliant up front, the podium positions were set for the finish, Orton second, Mohaffel third and just off the podium, Rob Vissers in a very creditable fourth.

As the cars lined up for race two, the brilliant sunshine that had bathed the circuit all weekend gave way to a sudden downpour. Starting dead last and with nothing to lose, O’Malley gambled that the rain would last and dived into the pits on the second green flag lap, giving his Trackcars team little more than two minutes to change the set-up. It turned out to be an inspired decision and after a safety car period to clear up Rob Vissers & Richard Jennings at one corner and Jonathan Ramsay & Richard Boughton at another, all victims of the treacherous conditions, O’Malley started his charge up the field. Johnson was in the lead again, with Orton hot on his heels.

PIM Racing’s Anthony Sidney-Woollett, took up position in third as Mohaffel worked his way backwards, but O’Malley’s speed was unparalleled and he was quickly past the DPR Motorsport driver into third and chasing down the leaders who had switched positions, Orton looking stronger in the wet as he had done at Castle Combe. Two laps from home O’Malley was past Johnson and on the final lap, past the leader to take a memorable win, leaving Orton a disappointed second and Johnson third.

Orton continues to lead the championship with Colard Motorsport’s Johnson a single point behind.

Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport-B

For so long the bridesmaid, Benji finally makes it stick …

A stunning performance from Jeremy Webb put him on pole by nearly a whole second, much to the dismay of his rivals. But when the race got underway chaos ensued at the first corner (several spinners, many helped) sending the pack scattering. Fellow Tonbridge resident Ben Whibley had made the better start from alongside Webb to take the lead, followed by Reece Somerfield. Whibley fought tooth and nail to hold off Somerfield all race long, whilst far behind them a displaced Lee Wiggins was making his way back up the field by being the fastest man on the track (as usual) until an error at Earste corner sent him across the gravel looking for an escape road and stunting his charge. Webb, unable to reproduce his qualifying speed, held a strong third until a mistake allowed Fergus Ryan to take the place with just two laps left, but he threw it away with a spin in the final chicane, handing third to Addison who by now had also passed Webb. Ahead of them exhibition organiser Whibley drove to well deserved glory ahead of Somerfield.

Another error of judgement at the start of race two by Ryan resulted in championship front runner Steve Day being punted down the field and having to embark on a recovery drive. Meanwhile a four way lead battle become five as Somerfield, recovering from a startline stall, worked his way up to the front, before Lee Wiggins started to fall back uncharacteristically. Whibley, Webb, Addison and Somerfield bickered over the top spots for the duration of the race, but Whibley was unable to make it a double as Webb once again found his form and took the lead and ultimately the win, with Addison in second and Whibley third.

Wiggins championship lead has been cut, with Whibley now in striking distance, Day having dropped a place after a disappointing weekend – but he’s only just behind.

The next outing for all series is at Rockingham on 3rd/4th July.

Simon Lambert