FOWELL TO THE FORE
The BookaTrack.com Caterham Superlight R300 Championship had a double header at Oulton on Saturday and once the dust had settled Roadsport-B champion Trevor Fowell emerged as the championship leader.
A single blistering lap by current title holder Jon Walker put him on pole half a second ahead of his rivals early on Saturday morning, but he was just one of eighteen drivers that qualified under the old lap record, suggesting the pace was going to be frantic.
Alongside Walker was DPR Motorsport team-mate Mark Shaw. The newcomer had impressed with his speed at Silverstone and was now living up to that promise. The 2009 Roadsport-B championship’s three amigos, Gordon Sawyer, Trevor Fowell and Paul Brannan rounded out the top spots, while McMillan Motorsport head-honcho Andy McMillan, who had been so quick at Silverstone, languished in thirteenth after a minor problem with the rear suspension upset his handling, and him.
The green light was the signal for bedlum, which duly followed in the first run to Cascades. Fowell had jumped Walker for the lead, whilst a poor start from Shaw saw him hustled back to eighth. Jamie Ellwood had lost out to both James Sharrock and a lightening start from McMillan, and attempted to make up for it on the entry to Cascades by using a gap that wasn’t there. In the process, he triggered a chain reaction of events as he nudged Shaw into a spin, who then collected Dave Pearce. Ollie Taylor was too close to be able to take avoiding action, though several drivers successfully took to the grass, including Pete Young whose remarkable head-height jump only knocked off a sensor on landing, sidelining him. McMillan was sent scrabbling for the pits with a mangled front tyre whilst Paul Turley was shunted well down the order; a poor reward for skilfully avoiding everyone. After a brief safety car period Turley set about putting things right with a series of stunning laps, but on the entry to Knickerbrook, tripped over a slower car and after a brief visit to the tyre wall, finished up back on the track minus a couple of corners, bringing the race to a halt.
Fowell and Walker now headed the front row for the ten minute sprint to the finish, but it was Brannan and Ellwood from third and fifth that made the best of the restart to take the lead places. Meanwhile, McMillan, given another chance, launched himself from twentieth to sixth on the first lap with unrivalled pace, though once with the lead group he was unable to make much progress as the four leaders tussled for position allowing Brannan to make a small gap. After a poor opening lap SPY Motorsport’s Paul Fleury had clawed his way back to third, passing Walker who had worked his way backwards, meaning it would be Brannan from Ellwood, followed by Fleury at the end of the six lap sprint, with Fowell just outside the trophy positions.
If the on track action had been frenetic, it was nothing compared to the work going on in the pit garages over lunchtime as teams and drivers battled to meet the deadline for the afternoon’s race, but a notable absence from race two would be Walker who couldn’t take part due to another engagement.
Race two was an altogether more sensible affair although the safety car would still see some action. A poor first lap for Brannan pushed him down the order, whilst McMillan’s charging resumed once again and he was leading by the end of lap one. As Brannan recovered to third place, he made a small but punishing mistake. Running wide onto the grass he was fired back onto the track and into an unfortunate Sharrock, running a strong fourth position. After a short safety car period, McMillan continued on his way, putting a gap between himself and Fowell, now up to second after Fleury and Ellwood’s battle for second was slowed at Druids with Fleury forced to take a trip through the gravel. Ellwood was left fighting for third with Sawyer and novice Jon Packer, who was putting in a brilliant performance, albeit short-lived as he drove himself into the gravel at Shell Oils and out of contention.
Ahead of them, Fowell had started to reel in McMillan until he was alongside with just a lap to go. An epic final lap between the pair went the way of Fowell, giving his Fauldsport team a second win for the day. He had nosed past McMillan at the line four-hundredths ahead. Ellwood would come home third, just ahead of Sawyer.
Three races, three different winners. Indeed, three different pole men, none of whom have led to the flag! Fowell now has a three point lead over McMillan in the championship, helped by the two lap records he has already set this year, bringing his tally to five current Caterham lap records – more than any other driver. Ellwood is just behind the pair, with Walker and Brannan equal in the fourth spot. Shaw, Sawyer, Sharrock, Taylor and Turley have all shown they’ve got what it takes – will one of them be the next winner as the championship heads for Belgium?