SEASON REVIEW: AVON TYRES CATERHAM ROADSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP


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The Smiths….Brad emerged victorious from a season long battle with namesake Robert and Elliott Norris. Photo: www.rachelhorganphotography.com

The Roadsport championship is the next step on the Caterham ladder for Academy drivers & cars from 2011. With light modifications and a change to track orientated tyres, this enables them to enjoy another year of racing with the friends they have battled against in the hugely successful Academy series. 2012’s Roadsport grid is comprised of a combination of drivers from the two 2011 Academy groups, joined by novice drivers entering, or rejoining Caterham racing.

Elliott Norris started the Roadsport season as favourite, having been the runaway winner in the 2011 Academy Gp1 championship. Gp2 champion, Andy Welch, would be taking a year off from racing. It was no surprise then when Norris won the first race of the year at Silverstone. However, the hounding pack, consisting of Robert Smith, Alex Macindoe, Brad Smith, Robert Chappell and Achille Corbellati, looked like they were not going to make it easy for him. But, there was controversy right at the start when Corbellati was excluded for contact with Brad Smith during the first race. This penalty put him on the back foot for the season and despite a spectacular come-back in the second race of the day (won by Brad Smith); the Italian student would no longer feature in the title chase.

Oulton Park produced a third winner out of three race as Alex Macindoe scored his maiden victory, though the excitement of the race was all at the start when pole-man Brad Smith jumped the start then managed to select reverse, propelling him backwards through the pack as the lights went out. Normal service resumed when Norris won the second race keeping him at the top of the table. Norris and Macindoe shared the honours at Donington before the championship moved to Brands where everything would change.

At Brands, Brad Smith would dominate, with Elliott Norris following him home. Smith would repeat the feat at the Nurburgring and then Snetterton, followed home by Norris in second place every time. Meanwhile, Macindoe fell foul of post-race eligibility scrutineering and with a zero score to carry, elected not to see the championship out. Robert Chappell’s year had not been going as planned either and after a series of lacklustre results, he pulled out of the season two rounds from the end. So by the time the Roadsports arrived at Rockingham for the final round, it had become a two-horse race between Norris and Smith, while Robert Smith was in an unassailable third place.

Brad Smith had now usurped Norris as favourite for the title, though he still had to lead him home in one of the races to secure it. In contrast, Norris had to win both races to be sure of the title (assuming Smith followed him home). However, the actual race didn’t go quite as planned for either as Robert Smith, perhaps secure in the knowledge that he was finishing third in the championship no matter what, finally lived up to the promise he had shown and crossed the line first with Brad Smith second and Norris third. This result gave Brad Smith the title and he would end the year on an additional high by taking the last win of the year later in the day.

The road-legal Roadsport race car is a simple development of the 125bhp Ford Sigma powered 2011 Academy car; its performance significantly enhanced by the addition of a rear-anti roll bar and Avon CR500 road legal track tyres.

Simon Lambert