RIVALS OUT TO STOP SAWYER DOMINANCE IN CATERHAM SEVEN 310R’S AT OULTON PARK


The Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship has certainly been an entertaining and fascinating contest so far in 2019 and after two brilliant opening rounds, the series now moves forward to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the third meeting of the season. After a year away, the circuit makes a welcome return and is loved and enjoyed by many drivers on the grid. Certainly, there’s one driver on the grid who will be hoping it treats him well on this occasion.

Caterham’s biggest championship grid sees the ultimate evolution of the Academy car, with drivers and cars now typically entering their fourth year of competition; many with the benefit of professional team support. Looking identical to the Seven 270R that sits below it, the improvements are all under the skin. A power hike to 152bhp is accompanied by a limited slip differential, whilst retaining the Seven 270R’s track-based suspension and Avon ZZS tyres. The result is considered by many to be the best balanced and most enjoyable Caterham ever.

So, who is the driver that will be wishing for more of the same here at Oulton? Well, that’s going to be Gordon Sawyer who is on a mission to make up for missing out on last year’s Seven 310R title by taking the crown for himself in 2019. So far, he’s going the right way about it as he’s won all four races run so far along with a pole position and a fastest lap. This undoubtedly makes him the man to beat this year as he heads to Cheshire with a lead of 10 points at the top of the standings. There’s no denying Gordon’s blistering pace and he’ll be out to prove it once again this time.

Giving chase behind him in the standings is the ever charismatic Jay McCormack, who has been on Sawyer’s tail just about the entire way since the beginning of the season. With three 2nd places and a 3rd to his name in 2019 thus far, Jay is no stranger to tasting success when it comes to race wins and his first of the year is sure a case of when rather than if it happens. That said, McCormack has come close to winning the title in each of the three seasons he’s contested from the Academy through to 270R. We suspect that he’s probably getting tired of being the bridesmaid and never the bride and he’ll be hoping he can turn that around this time!

Behind the top two come James Beardwell, Tom Grensinger and James Wingfield respectively, all three drivers that have enjoyed a healthy start to their campaigns. Beardwell has a 2nd place to his name from Silverstone along with the fastest lap from Croft, Grensinger scored 5th and 3rd in North Yorkshire and Wingfield has been able to bank a bevy of top 10 finishes thus far allowing him to hold 5th in the standings. A six-point gap separates Beardwell and Grensinger for 3rd place, while Wingfield has an 11 point deficit to P4, but given how unpredictable the order turns out to be in each race, that could all change very quickly.

David Yates is another driver like Wingfield that has ensured himself to be a constant presence in the top 10 and thus banking valuable points along the way to boot. Richard Lambert is a further three points behind holding 7th place while Don Henshall and former Academy champions Andrew Perry and Ben Gillias complete the top 10. Ben, in particular, is back on the Caterham Motorsport grid year having elected to take a year away from the main roster, and so far he’s finding the Seven 310R contest something of a baptism of fire!

Two more drivers who are no strangers to winning races are Pete Walters, the 2017 Roadsport champion, and Nathan Bell who has been successful racing Caterhams in other parts of the UK. While Nathan has, like Yates and Wingfield, ensured himself to be a regular top 10 runner, a retirement at Croft hasn’t helped his cause. As for Walters, he was unable to make the trip to North Yorkshire and he will be desperate to make up lost ground with some strong results this time.

While it’s clear that Gordon Sawyer is the in-form man in this championship, good fortunes don’t always last forever. Will he be able to make it six from six and continue his winning streak, or will one of his close pursuing rivals throw a spanner in the works and break the perfect run? Let’s find out!

Scott Woodwiss