CATERHAMS & CO PUT ON SUPERB NORTHERN RACING DISPLAY AT CROFT


The BRSCC Northern Centre sprung back into life this past weekend at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, ready to welcome the championships in attendance to sample the new track surface recently laid. This was sure to see lap times tumble in comparison to previous years as Caterham Motorsport and co descended to contest their second race meetings of the 2019 season.

Will Rossetti initially looked as though he would be able to once again convert a front row start for the first Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship race into victory, albeit this time without the luxury of pulling out a lead of several seconds on his rivals. Instead, he would have to contend with another red flag affected race where the restart saw him drop from pole to 4th on the opening lap, before he watched as Andrew Murgatroyd and Lars Alexander Hoffmann diced for the lead across the remaining 10 circuits. By the chequered flag, it turned into another classic Caterham photo finish as Murgatroyd pipped Hoffmann to the line by a mere 0.108 seconds for the win with Rossetti in 3rd place some half a second back. Hoffmann ensured that he would get his own back in the second race by beating Murgatroyd off the line to take a lead which he would never end up losing. Despite Andrew’s best efforts, Murgatroyd fell back in the closing stages and ended up 2.4 second away in the end as Hoffmann picked up his first win of the season; Stuart Bell followed up 5th place in the first race with a podium in the second as he took 3rd.

The Motul Caterham Seven 270R Championship had a lot to live up to after it produced two of the finest races that Caterham Motorsport had ever seen at the Silverstone opener. With the benchmark set, the drivers headed into Race 1 anticipating more of the same, but what occurred was something a little more straightforward. Daniel Halstead and Daniel French elected to work together to pull away from the chasing pack and eventually come embroiled in a battle all of their own, with the pair eventually conducting another sprint finish to the flag with Halstead beating French by 0.096 seconds. Back in 3rd, Silverstone race winner and 2018 Academy Green Group champion Justin Heap would also come out on top of his own personal duel as he pipped Matt Sheppard to the final podium place. Heading into Race 2, Halstead and French once again set about spread-eagling the field by themselves, although this time they had much more company than they’d anticipated. What followed was an intense 12-car lead battle that stretched across a 5 second gap with Heap, Halstead, French and Neil Fraser all taking turns at the head of the group. Eventually, the order would finish with Halstead on top again followed by French in 2nd, with Fraser able to put one over Heap to claim 3rd place.

It was clear from the outset in the Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship that one man was staking a claim to dominate proceedings all by himself, as Gordon Sawyer collected both wins at the Silverstone opening rounds ahead of his trip to Croft. Picking up where he’d left off with pole position in qualifying, Sawyer went about dominating the competition as overcame an initial challenge from Jay McCormack to steal back the lead and remain in front all the way to the end of the 30 minute encounter. Sawyer would go on to win by just over 4 seconds to maintain his 100% win race in 2019, while the main battle was for 2nd place behind him. McCormack, Andrew Perry and the returning Ian Payne duked it out between then before McCormack ended up claiming 2nd place, while 3rd went the way of Perry as he beat Payne to the place by just half a second. Sawyer then went into Race 2 ready to claim another clean sweep, however this time he was kept occupied by the seething mob behind him led once again by McCormack and Payne. Try as they might, neither could prize the lead away from Sawyer until the final lap of the race, when Payne made his move and usurped the points leader to claim victory – on the road. In post-race scrutineering, Payne’s car was found with a technical infringement which ultimately disqualified him from the result. Therefore, Sawyer did indeed inherit the win to make it four from four races, heading McCormack and Tom Grensinger on the podium.

Moving into the top line Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship, the festivities began with the new Superpole shootout, which ended up going the way of David Henderson by less than half a tenth of a second. With the three points awarded safely banked, Henderson then ended up contesting the lead throughout the first 30 minutes with both William Smith and John Byrne, with former champion Aaron Head also throwing themselves into the mix too. By the flag, Henderson had secured victory ahead of Smith and Byrne respectively, and went into Race 2 hoping for the same success. Sadly, luck would not be with him on that occasion, as an early trip to the pits left him struggling at the back of the field and way off the pace of the leaders. Back at the front, Byrne would go on to hold off both Smith and Head to pick up his first win of the season, making it three wins from four leaving North Yorkshire.

One driver who made an instant impact on their debut weekend was Mark Upton, as he shot straight into the Hyperdrive ST-XR Challenge in his newly built Class D Ford Fiesta ST150, taking pole position in qualifying before going on to win the first two races of the weekend. Race 1 saw him dominate from start to finish as he ended up taking the chequered flag by almost six seconds to be runaway overall and Class D winner. Behind him in 2nd place came the top Class A runners as William Heslop claimed class victory ahead of rivals Adam Brown and Greg Speight, continuing their battles from the Oulton Park season opener; Ryan Bowron claimed his first Class B win of the season too. Upton’s second win of the weekend didn’t produce as big a winning margin as the first encounter had, as he crossed the finish line only 2.5 seconds ahead of Heslop this time with Speight back in 3rd. However, his dominance of the weekend came to a close when he unable to make it out for the final race, leaving the Class A leaders to scrap amongst themselves for overall honours. In the end, Oulton Park race winner Adam Brown claimed his second of the season, while Ryan Bowron and Christopher Rowlands made sure that three different classes made up the overall podium with 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In the Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship, Martyn Walsh ensured that his old mate and sparring partner Simon Hill wasn’t going to completely run away with the Mk5 class as he took the win in Race 1 on Sunday, with Hill and John Mawdsley completing the class and overall podium. However, Walsh’s weekend would see him end up in the surrounding Yorkshire fields after going off on the last lap. As a result, Hill would go on to inherit the race win after pressuring Walsh all the way to the end. Defending Mk5 champion James Colbourne took 2nd place, with Mawdsley again collecting 3rd to complete the podium. Over in the Mk2 class, Tim Hartland was finally able to live up the #1 on his window by claiming Race 1 class victory from Chris Webb and Spencer Beale, while in Race 2 Hartland completed the job by doubling up from Beale in 2nd and Matthew Eccles in 3rd.

You can find the breakdown on all of the races from Croft via TSL Timing HERE – https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/191831

Scott Woodwiss