LEWIS BREAKS SENIOR’S CATERHAMRACER.COM 420R SERIES WIN STREAK AT KNOCKHILL


The dominance of the Caterhamracer.com Caterham Seven 420R Series by Harry Senior was broken in fine fashion by Matthew Lewis on Friday evening, as he charged to two commanding victories at the latest rounds at Knockhill in Scotland.

Lewis fired a warning shot early by topping practice and then taking pole position in qualifying for Race 1, with four-time race winner Senior lining up on the front row alongside him ahead of James Murphy, Steve McMaster and David Rowe in the top 5. Lower down the field, Roadsport circuit race winner Matt Sheppard made his debut in the series back on the 7th row in 13th.

The first few rows pulled away level at the start but Lewis was able to maintain his lead heading through the first corner with Senior and Murphy falling in behind. After chasing him for a lap, Senior wasted no time in mounting a challenge for the lead on the outside into Duffers Dip but Lewis managed to hold firm on the inside line to retain the place. Senior’s failed attempt allowed Murphy to attack into Taylor’s Hairpin at the end of Lap 2 and slip by for 2nd place and over the next couple of laps, the top 5 ran together with Lewis extending a lead of around 1.5 seconds. A dramatic sequence then played out exiting the Arnold Clark chicane as a slow backmarker forced Murphy to narrowly avoid a collision on the grass, but the pursuing Senior was unable to avoid a collision which cost him time. Then one corner later, a half spin from Murphy would also lose him three places to drop from 2nd to 5th.

While this was going on, Lewis continued in the lead somewhat oblivious while Rowe had moved up to 2nd place as a result of the incidents. Senior was quick to draw back onto his tail and managed to reclaim the position, and the sequence of corners that saw the two cars battle over the place brought Murphy back into play as well as McMaster and Wyllys into the mix as well. McMaster snatched 4th from Murphy, and the former Roadsport champ would lose 5th in quick succession moments later to Wyllys to leave him at the base of the top 6 with just as many minutes left to run.  McMaster wasted no time in closing in on Rowe to challenge for a potential podium place, and at one stage ran wheel to wheel into Taylor’s Hairpin and down to Duffus Dip to steal 3rd place.

Totally unchallenged for almost the entire duration of the race, Matthew Lewis drove a superb race to break Harry Senior’s win streak and pick up his first win in the 420R series, with the aforementioned Senior coming home in 2nd place and McMaster driving well to claim 3rd. Murphy picked up 4th heading into the final lap from Rowe who managed to retain a top 5 finish, while Wyllys took 6th place ahead of Steve Arnell, Tom McEwing, Paul Fernihough and an impressive 10th place finish for Matt Sheppard on his first start.

For the second race, the start was very much alike with Lewis heading into the first corner from pole with Senior in tow followed by McMaster in 3rd and an early battle between Murphy and his DPR Motorsport team boss Rowe for 4th position. Behind them, Tom Wyllys ended up spinning at the bottom of Duffus Dip moments after the start, leaving him towards the back of the pack in 16th.

Senior once again began applying the pressure from the word go as he attempted to force Lewis to capitulate and give up the lead, making a handful of attempts to make it past, but despite staying on his tail, he wasn’t able to find a way around the leader. Behind them, Rowe had managed to pass Murphy but hadn’t been able to shake him off as the pair circulated in an ongoing battle that would effectively last for the rest of the race.

The race settled down as it progressed over the next few minutes, with Lewis ahead of Senior once more but not enjoying the same sizeable gap he’d been able to stretch out in Race 1. The leading duo managed to wind their way amongst the backmarkers as they headed into the last five minutes of racing, with Senior seemingly getting caught up amongst the tail-enders more than leader Lewis. By this point, most of the field was spread out enough to negate any potential last-minute moves, but by the chequered flag, it appeared to be all in a night’s work for Lewis. He managed to push on in the final laps and build up a winning margin of over 6 seconds to complete a brace of victories, while Senior locked in a pair of 2nd places and David Rowe clinched a much-coveted podium with 3rd. Murphy and Arnell completed the top five ahead of McMaster, Fernihough and James Fowler, while 9th place changed hands on the last lap as Mike Hilton stole it away from Sheppard in the last few corners.

Next up on the virtual 420R schedule is a trip to Europe and the excellent Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands, with the possibility of competing on the new for 2020 GP layout which includes the modified banked corners that were put in place for the return of the Dutch Grand Prix in Formula 1. That race is set to take place on Friday May 15th, while its sister Academy series is ready to race at Anglesey tonight (Monday May 11th).

Scott Woodwiss