CATERHAMS DELIVER A SNETTERTON SCORCHER
Aaron Head (#19) put in the drive of the weekend to win the second R300-S race by 0.017 seconds! – Photo: SnappyRacers
Amongst glorious sunshine and warm temperatures, the BRSCC East Anglian Centre’s 3rd & final meeting at Snetterton this season may have saved some of the best racing until last as Caterhams, TVRs and Hondas all put on a fine display for the spectators in attendance.
Beginning with the newest members of the Caterham Motorsport roster, the guys and girls in The City Magazine Caterham Academy Championship certainly proved that they were getting to grips with racing rather quickly. The White Group tackled the 300 circuit first off, with Jay McCormack and Ben Gillias wasting no time in setting the pace out in front. McCormack held the lead for most of the race before Gillias found pace and reeled him in to set up a showdown in the final laps. In the end, McCormack just nipped it at the flag by a tenth of a second, yet he was sadly denied the win on the timing screens due to a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits, handing the win to Gillias. A superb race long battle for 3rd eventually saw James Beardwell claim the final step.
Over with their compatriots in the Green Group, a race stoppage on the opening lap forced a restart for all involved. Another one-on-one dice for the lead ensued in the restarted race with Steven Tozer and Peter Spencer swapping places lap after lap. While it remained close all the way, the best was saved until the last lap when Tozer had just enough straight line speed to edge Spencer when they took the flag. The margin of victory was a mere 0.070 seconds with Tom John putting in a superb recovery drive to 3rd after a first lap misdemeanour forced him down the order and to subsequently claw his way back up the field.
A safety car affected opening race for the Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship sadly saw a selection of the top contenders exit the race in two separate incidents on the pit straight and at the Montreal hairpin. The front 3 of Guy Hawkins & Rob Watts instantly broke free when the green flag flew once more and made it a race of their own, whilst point leader Russ Olivant became involved in battles that prevented him from placing any higher than 3rd. Hawkins would see the flag first from Watts by 1.6 seconds. The second race allowed Olivant a chance to redeem himself and that he did as the trio once again distanced themselves from the chasing pack. Nothing more than 1 second covered the three cars all race with positions changing hands lap after lap. Eventually, it was another nail-biting finish as Hawkins completed the double from Olivant by just 0.046 seconds with Watts in 3rd making sure the podium was only covered by just half a second!
Matthew Lambert may have only been borrowing father Richard’s car for just this weekend in the Avon Tyres Caterham Tracksport Championship, yet you’d have been forgiven for thinking he was far from his debut given his performances in both races. The first seven cars made sure it was fast and frantic at the front in Race 1, at one point only spread by 1.8 seconds. With the lead constantly switching around as the laps ticked off, it was anyone’s guess until eventually Lambert snatched his first Caterham win from points leader Anthony Barnes and the returning Paul Aram. It was left to just Lambert and Barnes out in front for the second race as the two drivers constantly traded places whilst firmly creating a gap to the seething mob scrapping over 3rd. While it remained close for the majority of the race, Lambert was able to create a 2 second gap to Barnes in the final minutes to make it two from two. The pair were joined by Barry Moore on the podium on this occasion, finally coming out of those 3rd place battles at the front of the group.
With the biggest grid of the weekend, the ITC Compliance Caterham Supersport Championship promised a race where the choice for potential winners was wide open – especially since the top 20 were covered by less than 2 seconds in qualifying! When it came down to business, a definitive quintet of drivers had Saturday’s race all to themselves with William Smith, Max McDonagh, Henry Heaton, Jack Brown and polesitter Timothy Dickens hardly remaining in the same order for more than one lap. Smith once again came out as the winner whilst McDonagh edged out Heaton for 2nd. For Race 2, the majority of the quintet remained the same only for Mike Evans to take Dickens’ place after he was forced to retire early on. Once again, it was battles and position swapping aplenty between the leaders with only Heaton and Smith managing to head the field. Once again, it a last gasp move from Smith on the pit straight to snatch the win from Heaton in another photo finish, this time just 0.040 between the two. 3rd place was dutifully taken by Jack Brown with a comfortable 3 second margin back to 4th.
The closest finish, however, was reserved for the Bookatrack.com Caterham Superlight R300-S Championship, where we were treated to two cracking races up at the front. Points leader Aaron Head was forced to work for his Race 1 win as the likes of Lee Wiggins, Clive Richards and Jack Sales were in no mood to allow him to have it easy. Wiggins and Head took turns to lead all the way through until Head broke free and pulled a gap in the final laps. He eventually took the flag by just over 3 seconds while Wiggins just held off Richards and Sales for 2nd.
Arguably, the best race of the weekend came in their second encounter with drama straight from lights out, as Head suffered an awful start which pushed him down to 14th by the end of the opening lap. In a sensational display of pace and racecraft, Head muscled his way back into the leading pack headed up by Wiggins to eventually grab the lead from his main rival at 2/3rds distance. Once again the lead changed hands between them lap by lap, but it was again left to the last one to settle it. Out of the final corner, Head tucked underneath Wiggins, timed his move to perfection and in the closest finish of the meeting took the win by the miniscule margin of 0.017 seconds – Head literally taking it by a nose! Clive Richards also put in a stunning last few laps and ended only fractions behind at the flag. The gap across the top 3? 0.073 seconds. Sensational!
In support of the Caterhams, another much loved British sportscar name came out to play as the Dunlop TVR featured 3 races that would see one driver awarded the Archie Scott Brown Trophy. Race 1 had Dean Cook’s bright red Sagaris stretch out a lead whilst being hunted down by David Mason. Sadly, Mason’s charge was halted when overheating electrics forced him to back off to save a problem, leaving Cook to take the first win of the weekend. On Sunday’s first race it was Cook again who won but not before an epic battle with Mason at the front for a few laps, halted when Mason his Tuscan Challenge car at the Brundle-Nelson complex. For race 3, there was a further issue when a puncture cast him a podium as Cook completed a hat-trick and took the Archie Scott Brown Trophy in the process. Mat Smith took all 3 wins in commanding fashion in Class C.
Finally, the Toyo Tires Honda VTEC Challenge and Smart 4Two provided an alternative element to a weekend that had been dominated by sports cars. Robert Burkinshaw was the man everyone had to try and catch from start to finish, as his Tuner class Honda Integra Type R took him to a race win of almost a minute from class rival Mark Bennett, unable to repeat his Rockingham success but still securing a strong 2nd. Adam Jones took the final step on the rostrum to win the Super Tuner class after Stuart King’s Integra was forced out with problems near the end. Burkinshaw’s margin of victory wasn’t as large in Race 2 as Bennett managed to reduce it to 18 seconds by race end, whilst King was able to redeem himself with a 3rd place to make up for his retirement in Race 1. The Production class saw honours shared between Neil Holden and Peter Dunmore respectively. Over in the Smart 4Two Cup, it was a Palmer 1-2 with James winning both from Alan with Greg Owens and Martyn Clatworthy sharing a 3rd place each.
The full breakdown of the results is available via TSL Timing HERE.
A massive thank you to all of our competitors, BRSCC officials and of course the magnificent marshals for their hard work all weekend. Also, as it was our last meeting at Snetterton this year, another thank you must go to both the staff at Snetterton Circuit and our BRSCC East Anglian Centre for their efforts.