It was business as usual for Harry Senior as he extended his winning streak to four in a row in the Caterham Academy sim racing series, as he collected a brace of wins in the latest rounds held on a virtual Silverstone GP circuit.

A blinding lap in the last minutes of the qualifying session ensured James Murphy clinched pole position for Race 1, less than a tenth of a second quicker than double race winner Harry Senior with Matthew Lewis, Will Rossetti and Steve McMaster completing the top 5 places on the grid for the opening skirmish of the evening.

Senior picked up a flying start off the line to take the lead into Abbey corner for the first time, while Murphy struggled to get away cleanly and quickly found himself in a duel with Rossetti over 2nd place in the opening corners. Murphy managed to regain 2nd heading into Brooklands as a five-car pack, also including McMaster, James Wingfield and David Rowe, began battling over the podium places throughout the first lap. Senior managed to pull out a lead gap of around 1.5 seconds by the end of the first tour, but Murphy quickly began to leave Rossetti in the clutches of McMaster as he set off up the road to try and challenge for the lead.

Initially, the gap stabilised between the top two, but slowly and surely Murphy began chipping away at Senior’s advantage and managed to close to less than a second within a lap and a half. Behind them, the duel between McMaster and Rossetti continued to rage as the pair swapped places before the latter began to apply the pressure in an effort to repass. Rossetti did manage to get back through briefly with 3 minutes to go heading into Copse, a but a bold response from McMaster heading into Maggotts and Becketts saw him snatch the place back before the pair went side by side through Club to end the lap, which ended in McMaster’s favour.

In front of them, Murphy closed in to within half a second but a slide at Stowe saw lose a couple of tenths to Senior as they prepared to begin the final lap. With less than half a lap to go, Murphy’s commitment was clear as he monstered the kerbs through the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex in a bid to stick to Senior’s tail and make a move, while behind them Rossetti made one last unsuccessful attempt on the outside line into Copse to pass McMaster. Into Stowe for the last time, both cars carried almost too much speed into the corner and got sideways but remained in formation. However, Murphy would get too eager at the next turn at Vale and the resulting half-spin put paid to his chances of a win.

Therefore, Senior drove the last two corners to clinch his third victory in the series as Murphy resided himself to 2nd place, while in the fight for 3rd the honours went the way of McMaster with Rossetti tailing him home in 4th. Wingfield completed the top 5 with Chris Skillicorn in 6th position with Rowe and Tom Wyllys claiming 7th and 8th respectively, while a last corner incident changed the order of the bottom of the top 10 as Rider and Arnell got together, allowing Andy Steele and Paul Fernihough to steal the final two places.

The start of the second race saw both Senior and Murphy pick up equal starts as they sprinted down to the first corner together, with Senior grabbing the holeshot and claiming the lead. The top four began to run as they’d finished Race 1, but this time Murphy was much closer and immediately applying pressure from the beginning. Heading onto the Hangar Straight, Murphy lined up Senior for a pass into Stowe but despite attempting a move into the next few corners, all it achieved was to allow McMaster to turn the leading duo into a trio by the end of the lap.

McMaster then made a nuisance of himself to Murphy by briefly attempting to pass into the Arena section which the 2018 Roadsport champion resisted, while behind them a titanic scrap for 4th place was developing between Rowe, Wingfield and Rossetti. However, all of James’ hard work would fall apart at the upcoming high-speed sequence of corners, as he carried too much speed into Becketts, lost the back end of the car and spun across the grass, leaving him to be collected by McMaster on his re-entry with Rowe also getting caught up too. All three continued on, with Rowe moving to 4th, McMaster in 6th and Murphy down to 7th, but all of this ultimately helped to give leader Senior a lead of almost 3 seconds by the start of the third lap.

Incredibly, both Murphy and McMaster would become reacquainted once again moments later as the pair touched at Copse, sending McMaster into a spin and causing Murphy to lose some ground. The person it ultimately benefitted the most was Matthew Lewis, who by this point had incredibly charged his way up the pack from the rear of the grid to an impressive 7th place. With the race moving into its second half, the action calmed down somewhat apart from Lewis mounting a challenge on Murphy for 6th. The pair made slight contact at Stowe as Lewis attempted an outside pass, but had to sit behind Murphy for the time being.

Just up the road, Rowe managed to slot past Rossetti into the Arena section to pick up 3rd place, but at the head of the field, there was no stopping Harry Senior. As he reeled off the final lap, he sealed the deal and completed his domination of the evening’s racing, taking the flag first by almost four seconds in the end, with Wingfield in 2nd place and Rowe not far behind on the last step on the rostrum. Rossetti took 4th place ahead of Skillicorn in 5th, while Matthew Lewis ended up with 6th place after a mistake from Murphy on the final lap left him dropping further down the pack. A 7th place finish went the way of McMaster ahead of Fernihough in 8th, while Murphy had to settle for 9th after his late mistake and Mark Lapicki completed the top 10.

The next race in the Caterham Academy Series will be a virtual trip to the Welsh Coast, as Anglesey plays host on Monday May 11th.

Scott Woodwiss


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