CROFT SEES CATERHAM CHAMPS CROWNED


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Aaron Head (centre) has cemented himself as one of the best Caterham racers around – Photo: SnappyRacers

A dry weekend helped to make sure racing was competitive as ever for the BRSCC Northern Centre’s one and only meeting at the fantastic Croft circuit in North Yorkshire. A timetable almost completely awash with Caterhams also saw Formula Fords, Hondas and various sports and saloon cars interspersed throughout. That said, while one championship finished for the year, three more were settled with races still to go.

Caterham Motorsport’s entire Academy ladder were out in force once again, starting as ever with The City Magazine Caterham Academy. The White Group headed out for the first race of the weekend with an incredibly tight championship battle at the head of the points table. Jay McCormack appeared to be the best behaved out of the top 3 in the title race as he was able to take his 3rd win of the season, while key rival Ben Gillias came home 2nd on the road before being handed a 5 second time penalty for track limits. Therefore he was pushed down to 5th, leaving Eric Tiv and Philip Bianchi to complete the podium on this occasion. James Beardwell, 3rd in points heading into the weekend, was also penalised 2 seconds for driving standards which left him 7th in the result.

In the second race for the Green Group, Steven Tozer endured a fantastic battle throughout the race with Tom John, making his move for the lead at around the half way point and remaining ahead until the flag. John made sure he pressed him hard all the way to the end, with the winning margin just over half a second at the flag. Carl Varney was the last man on the podium in 3rd, whilst the other title contenders amongst the top 5 ended up placing lower than they probably would have liked to. Peter Spencer could only manage 5th while Pete Walters ended up a less than ideal 8th. It’s still all to play for in both Academy championships with the final meeting at Donington the deciding location next month.

There’s also still a champion to crown in the Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship. Points leader Russ Olivant knew that nothing less than victory would suffice if he was to keep himself in line to take the crown. Thankfully, he scored just that in the first race, beating out Guy Hawkins by just over 0.2 seconds by the end with Alan Cooper popping up as a surprise podium finisher in 3rd. Daniel Quintero, Will Lloyd and Rob Watts had to settle for places off the rostrum with 4th, 5th and 7th respectively. Moving into the second race, it was pretty much more of the same as Olivant doubled up to win again with Hawkins once more in 2nd. However this time Quintero snatched the final podium ahead of Cooper, with Lloyd in 5th and Watts 7th. Once again, the double header at Donington will be the all important decider.

The rest of the Caterham contingent is where we saw our 3 titles decided. The first came in the Avon Tyres Caterham Tracksport Championship, where Anthony Barnes was able to seal the deal in fine style. Amazingly, he didn’t even have to win either race to do it as he was beaten to the flag on both occasions by Alistair Calvert. The first encounter saw Calvert win from Barnes with his main title rival Daniel Bremner unable to better 3rd from Damian Milkins and Steve McCulley. The second race was very much more of the same, with Calvert completing his brace from Barnes again, but this time it was Milkins who secured 3rd ahead of Bremner. As he’d finished ahead of all his main rivals, the two 2nd places were enough to declare Barnes as the 2016 Tracksport champion.

The second title was settled in the ITC Compliance Caterham Supersport Championship, considered the most competitive out of the 6 series this season. Race 1 saw Henry Heaton lead early on, yet after a few laps he was overhauled by points leader William Smith and Ben Tuck. Both Smith and Tuck swapped the lead several times before Smith held on in the final laps to steal victory by less than half a second. Jack Brown also ran them close in 3rd, leaving the podium separated by a fraction over 1 second. With Heaton only 4th, he would need some real luck in the second to keep himself in the hunt. He certainly finished higher up in that race, however he would have to play second best to Tuck, who charged to his first Caterham victory by over 6 seconds, whilst Heaton had to fend off Brown at the flag. However, a 4th place from Smith was all he needed to ensure the title was out of reach and he was declared Supersport champion for 2016 after an emphatic season’s work. Now the championship can head to the finale with the prospect of two “free-for-all” races as with the title now decided, they’ll be out purely to have fun – a mouth-watering prospect!

Aaron Head was the 3rd and final man to decide which way a championship crown would be heading as he raced hard during both races of the Bookatrack.com Caterham Superlight R300-S Championship. A safety car period at the start of Race 1 meant the action didn’t get going until Lap 3, but when it did Head applied constant pressure to leader Lee Wiggins before briefly swapping the lead and then remaining in front until the end. Rapid youngster Jack Sales managed to find a way around Wiggins too to take 2nd, with Lee forced to settle for 3rd by the end. Into the 2nd race, Head’s task was a little simpler as he took another win by 3 seconds from Stephen Nuttall in P2 and Wiggins in P3, with this now more than enough to put the championship out of anyone’s grasp. Head had now dutifully become a two-time Caterham Superlight champion!

Away from the sensational bunch of Sevens, the final rounds of the Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 National Championship took place with Niall Murray having already booked his place into the Mazda Road To Indy Shootout, all thanks to his title win at Donington the previous meeting. He was clearly out to enjoy himself and that he did in Race 1 with a win by more than 3.5 seconds from Graham Carroll’s 2016 Firman chassis and David McArthur in 3rd. Murray completed his year in the only way he knew how in Race 2 with yet another victory from McArthur in P2 and Carroll in P3. This will now lead nicely towards next month’s Festival where Murray will hope to complete a successful year with a win at Brands in October. Ben Tinkler was again the main man in the Pre ’90 category, completing both race victories in style.

Making an anticipated trip up north, the Toyo Tires Honda VTEC Challenge returned to Croft once more with the promise of some great racing as all of the main protagonists had turned out in force. As some may have predicted, it was the pair of Honda CRXs that decided to run away with proceedings from the word go in Race 1, as Jeff Cooper headed fellow Super Tuner runner Peter Dixon to the flag by over 5 seconds, while Robert Burkinshaw was unable to keep with them but still clinched 3rd as well as finishing as top Tuner class machine. Paul Donkin also made a welcome return to finish at the head of the Production contingent. Cooper went into the second race without his inadvertent running part Dixon after gearbox trouble befell the CRX, leaving Jeff to once again hit the front and remain there. Burkinshaw made sure this time he wasn’t allowed to run away too far as the winning margin was held at 1.8 seconds by the end, with another incredible run from Donkin taking 3rd overall and winning Production class again. All 3 class winners would feature on the overall podium. Also joining the VTECs on track were the Smart 4Two Cup with just four Class 1 cars on display. David Nash won the first race with Alan Palmer coming home in front in the second.

An incredibly packed and varied field would descend on Croft for the DDMC Northern Saloon & Sportscar Championship with a mass of makes, models and engines doing battle against one another. In the end, Jeff Wilson’s Class A1 Lotus Elise raced away once again to head the large entry with a win by over 6.5 seconds from the SEAT Leon Eurocup of Andrew Morrison and Matthew Kirkby’s Caterham C400. Wilson was then unable to take the start for the second race, leaving the door open for a new overall winner to take the spotlight. On this occasion, it was Morrison’s SEAT who cruised away in front to clinch 1st with a gap of almost 20 seconds come the end. He was joined by John Woolfitt’s MK Indy in 2nd and Simon Mayne’s AB Performance Arion S2 in 3rd.

Many thanks go to all of our competitors, teams, BRSCC Club officials and marshals, as well as everyone who came out to attend and spectate. You can find a full breakdown of the weekend’s results via TSL Timing HERE.

Scott Woodwiss