Two new race winners at the final Caterham Academy Series at Oulton Park meant a total of seven for the inaugural season, as Will Rossetti and Jaroslav Cerny both took a win each to round off an exceptional first run of races.

Rossetti set out his intentions from the get-go by claiming pole position for the first race, ahead of many of the race winners from the previous weeks. Matthew Lewis had a front-row start with 2nd fastest, followed by Harry Senior and rapid Czech sim racer Jaroslav Cerny, then the DPR pair of David Rowe and James Murphy.

Despite getting a good launch and leading the field into Old Hall Corner for the first time, Rossetti quickly found himself being assaulted from all sides as Lewis, Senior and Cerny were all on his tail as the pack approached Cascades. Then, net code caused Lewis to bounce off Senior and fly across the grass, dropping him to the tail of the field with a long race ahead of him to recover. Senior and Cerny kept up the pressure and almost went three-wide into Shell Oils Hairpin, resulting in Cerny picking up 2nd place from Senior, who when retook the place under braking for Hislops. With the pack still fairly close together, Rossetti made a break for it while Senior, Cenry, Murphy and Rowe all fighting to be 2nd. Murphy undercut Cerny at Lodge to take 3rd place and then made a dive at Senior at Shell Oils, but moments later as the pair went side by side into the Brittons chicane, Murphy was left half spinning and tumbled down to 14th, while Rowe also made a mistake at Knickerbrook but kept his 4th position.

Most of the battling took place in the second half of the top 10, with the likes of Guy Crawford, Steve McMaster, Tim Vanhee and Blair McConachie, but closing in on them was the recovering Matthew Lewis who was attempted to pick his way through in an attempt to gain a better starting place for the second race. Back at the front and Rossetti was being slowly but surely caught by both Senior and Cerny, the latter either pushing Senior to drive quickly or simply able to keep pace with him as they closed in on the lead. Heading into the last lap, both cars were less than a second back from Rossetti and closing in quicker and quicker as they reeled off each corner, and eventually, he appeared to crack as he carried a little too much speed into Hislops but remained in front. A slower exit from Knickerbrook gave Senior a chance to pounce, but as he attempted to squeeze into an ever decreasing gap up Clay Hill, he put two wheels onto the grass and then suddenly found himself flying into the air after clipping a kerb. Incredibly, no one else was caught up the incident and he managed to carry on.

Rossetti drove on to take the chequered flag and become the sixth different winner of the Academy Series, with Cerny on his tail as he took 2nd in his first race in the series. David Rowe picked up the final podium spot with 3rd place followed by Guy Crawford and an excellent come back from Matthew Lewis, who took several places in the final laps to end up 5th. Tim Vanhee performed well to finish in 6th followed by Steve Arnell, McMaster, James Fowler and Chris Skillicorn in the top 10, while Senior could only trundle home in 17th after his last-lap incident.

The chance of a double victory was a real possibility for Rossetti, but at the start, he was overhauled by Cerny who took the outside line at Old Hall and completed the move on the approach to Cascades. Down at Shell Oils, everyone tried to be 2nd as Rossetti had to fend off Rowe, Crawford and Lewis, before Lewis ended up battling with first Rowe and then Crawford, the latter elbowing him wide at Old Hall at the start of the next lap before Lewis steamed back through at Island Bend. While the leading trio of Cerny, Rossetti and Rowe began to draw away, it was everyone for themselves in the giant group of cars squabbling over 4th, and eventually, it came to a head at Brittons when McConachie, Senior and Wyllys all came together and bounced off the tyres. Senior elected to call it a night there and then, while the other two carried on.

Cerny did his best to try and break away in the lead, however, it seemed initially that Rossetti and Rowe had enough to keep up with him. Lewis quickly joined them and immediately began hounding Rowe for 3rd place, finding a gap down the pit straight but unsuccessful in making a pass. Rossetti got loose just ahead of them and his mistake lost him two places, but he fought back against Lewis at Brittons which put Matthew sideways on the exit and immediately being McMaster into play. After brief fisticuffs at Knickerbrook, the three cars settled down a little, but once again at Brittons it would be Lewis that fell foul after he clipped the exit kerb, snapping his car sideways and leaving him spinning down to 11th place.

By this point, cars were a little more spread out and therefore the action was a little calmer, although there was drama for David Rowe when a technical issue pushed him out of the race as he was about to start the final lap. This left Cerny and Rossetti in a reverse of their positions from the first race with McMaster bearing down on the quick as they ticked off the final few corners. Keeping both cars behind him at arms’ length, Cerny would go on to take the victory and become another new racer winner, the seventh of the Academy Series, to round off an excellent season. Rossetti took 2nd place with McMaster just behind in 3rd, followed by Crawford and Murphy in the top 5, then Skillicorn, Vanhee, Arnell, Lewis and Wyllys.

Scott Woodwiss


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