KNOCKHILL JUNE 12/13 RACE WEEKEND PREVIEW: CATERHAM SEVEN CHAMPIONSHIP UK


The new specification of Caterham 420R that made its debut at the opening Caterham Seven Championship UK rounds at Donington Park certainly lived up to the hype, as with an increase in speed also came an increase in the tempo and excitement in all three races. With the first weekend in the books, the drivers now face a new challenge as the Knockhill Circuit in Scotland provides a stern test of skill and finesse for the fastest cars on Caterham Motorsport’s roster.

Caterham’s premier championship has firmly established itself as one of the most competitive and exciting race series in the country and it’s now a National Championship courtesy of Motorsport UK. From 2021 bespoke Avon Slick and wet tyres will be introduced to increase the race performance and the pace, along with uprated suspension and an increased engine rev limit. The Championship is a grid of quality drivers, most of whom have worked their way up through the Caterham ranks, ensures that the top-level Caterham racing is amongst the most exciting on offer. Unique to the Seven UK Championship on the ladder, a SuperPole shootout takes place after the regular qualifying session for the fastest drivers, with a bonus 3 points awarded for pole position, 2 points for P2 and 1 point for P3.

The man in control is Stephen Nuttall, a champion in Caterhams in every step of the official motorsport ladder except for the top one. He’s certainly started in the best possible way by taking two wins and a 2nd place and has already stated that he’s feeling confident ahead of this weekend’s racing in Scotland. Nuttall’s vast experience certainly serves him well and the new package only appears to be making his strengths even stronger. He starts the weekend as favourite but there’s a few names on the grid that will certainly have something to say about that.

James Murphy has always been lightning quick in any of the championships he’s competed in so far, capturing the Roadsport title in 2018. Nicknamed Superman for a reason, Murphy’s debut in the top Caterham class was certainly one to remember after he managed to pick up a win and a 3rd place to mark his introduction and he was certainly someone who managed to give Nuttall and co some headaches. He’s still searching for a little more consistency, but if he can find that there might just be no stopping him. Someone who will surely have something to say about that is last year’s vice champion Henry Heaton who would desperately love to make sure 2021 is his year to shine after plugging away in his 420R the last couple of seasons. While it wasn’t totally smooth sailing to begin with at Donington, the way he was able to come back from adverse moments was staggering and he might just be the driver that end up right at the sharp end of the table thanks to bagging as many points as he can from every weekend. Plus, he already has a win under his belt from 2020 and you can be certain he’ll be fired up for more this year.

Another driver who began life in the top class in a superb way was 2020 310R champ Greg Monks, the man who just agonizingly denied Murphy his second crown last year. The new car doesn’t appear to have intimidated him one bit and 3rd and 2nd places at Donington have certainly ensured he’s come out of the gates flying. Someone who will be hoping to carry on flying too is Gordon Sawyer who managed to get himself on the podium too, but also had one or two misfortunes including a spin that pushed him down to 10th in the third race. Chris Hutchinson also announced his return to the Caterham ranks in a fine way and in some cases drove as if he’d never left, managing to back an excellent 5th place in a car he’s still very much learning the ropes with. With more track time under his wheels, expect him to make more progress.

Others on the grid who will certainly be worth watching include Caterham CEO Graham Macdonald, whose superb driving at times ensured he came within touching distance of a podium on his Seven Championship UK debut. Getting caught up in the incident that stopped Race 3 was unfortunate, but the proud Scot will look to a home advantage as the perfect antidote to bounce back. Also caught up in that incident was William Smith, another former champion in the lower ranks whose first weekend back didn’t quite go to plan thanks to a mix of incidents and mechanical issues. For sure, he’s got a lot of ground to make up already but knowing his natural speed, he won’t stay down in 14th in points for long. Also, we’re pleased to see the likes of Jake Swann-Dixon and Alex Jordan back on the grid this weekend, the latter certainly being someone you can’t miss with his distinctive bright pink and blue machine!

Scott Woodwiss