PREVIEW: CATERHAM R300 CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2010 BookaTrack.com Caterham Superlight R300 Championship starts with thirty-two regular drivers who hold a whopping thirteen Caterham championship titles between them; four are reigning champions; half the grid are race winners and the majority of the rest are no stranger to the podium. That’s a lot of talent.
More importantly, it’s also a lot of egos and they can’t all win. “I’ll have more chance of picking a Grand National winner with a dart”, reveals Caterham Motorsport Manager Simon Lambert about his somewhat basic gambling technique. “Caterham racing is always close, but we’ve never had a grid of this proven calibre before. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any one of about a dozen drivers win at the opening round.”
Reigning R300 champion Jon Walker has the formbook on his side, though ’09 title rival James Sharrock largely threw away his challenge unaided after leading for much of the year. Toys now firmly back in the Wigan man’s pram, the pair will be expecting total domination of the front row of the grid. Another ‘veteran’ of the inaugural campaign aiming for nothing less than glory is Paul Wilson. Bad luck ruined Wilson’s year, but a new season, a new look for both car and driver, plus several rabbits missing feet in the Newbury area suggests that he means business.
However, there are a number of outstanding drivers coming in from other Caterham series who expect to see these three only as disappearing dots in their mirrors. Chief amongst them is Caterham’s most successful driver ever, Jamie Ellwood. The MegaGrad title holder is rarely beaten, but when he is, it’s usually at the hands (or wheels) of Andy McMillan who joins the series alongside him (literally, we expect).
Meanwhile, coming from last year’s most closely contested series, Roadsport-B, isn’t just current champ Trevor Fowell, but also the second, third and fourth placed men. Between Londoner Fowell and runner-up Gordon Sawyer, they have won all but one of the races they have ever competed in, only third placed man Paul Brannan managing to sneak past when they weren’t looking. Aussie Andrew Harrison-Sleap makes up the quartet and although the least race experienced, has spent more time on track behind the wheel of a Superlight than his rivals.
From the Superlight R400 championship and his strongest year since he started competed in Caterhams in 2004 comes Simon Young. Whilst he will have an eye on the title, it could be sibling rivalry with younger brother Peter that will be foremost in his mind. Stepping up from ClassicGrads is another reigning champion, Flick Haigh. Although making the biggest jump in series, the driveability of the R300 should mimic the ClassicGrad she’s been used to and could well reward her style.
Finally, Ollie Taylor and Jonny Leroux are another two ’09 R300 drivers looking to fend off the pretenders. Taylor finished the year on a high with two wins and is mentored by Caterham legend, Graham Fennymore. Talking of legends, title sponsor BookaTrack.com’s front man Leroux was, like Taylor, new to Caterham racing last year and with experience and victory under his belt, will be a regular feature of the sharp end of the field.
The men-from-boy/girl sorting gets underway at Silverstone this Easter with two 30 minute races on Easter Sunday on the newly titled Bridge GP circuit, drivers egged on [sorry] by the promise of trophies overflowing with Cadbury’s Crème Eggs.
“I don’t think it’s over-egging it [again, sorry] to say that I can sum it up with one word: Epic”, said Lambert modestly. “We had a phenomenal first season last year and it’s no surprise the series has sold out for 2010. I can’t wait for the season to start!”