SEASON REVIEW: AVON TYRES CATERHAM TRACKSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Tracksport was a new name for the Caterham Motorsport ladder in 2012, although the car and championship remain unchanged since its introduction (as Supersport) in 2010. Unlike the lower categories, there is no restriction on professional team support or driver experience. Most are Caterham racers with several years of experience, making this a fiercely fought championship.
Indeed, Tracksport was undoubtedly the most closely fought and least predictable of the six Caterham Championships in 2012. Ultimately, seven different drivers would win the fourteen races. Former Academy ace Mike Hart became the early favourite after a brace of wins at the Silverstone opener, putting him at the top of the table. However, work commitments meant he had to miss the next round, opening the door for challengers. Karting ace and Caterham newcomer, Terry Langley, was next to make his mark and it was another ex-karter, David Robinson moving up from the 2011 Academy, who would win the second race of the day.
As the championship moved to Donington Hart returned, but he couldn’t match his earlier pace finishing sixth in both races. Jon Mortimer had been on the podium in the first four races and finally stood on the top step, while former Academy champion Kurt Brady took the second victory followed home by Mortimer. We’d now had five winners from six races. Consistency rewarded Mortimer with the top of the table, followed by Robinson, Brady, nearly-man James Needham and Terry Langley in fifth, the latter having suffered a race ending puncture.
Brands Hatch marked the halfway point of the year and once again, the wins were shared, this time between Langley and Brady. The ever-present Robinson took a pair of second places pushing him to the top of the table, helped by a poor weekend for rival Mortimer.
By the time the championship reached Germany, it was Langley and Robinson that were looking like the class of the field, though the pair had to play second fiddle to an excellent drive from another novice, Stuart Leonard (making it six winners). In the second race, Langley would then deliver a master-class; well clear of the pack, Langley shadowed Robinson for the full thirty minutes, making his move in the final seconds to snatch victory.
The penultimate weekend at Snetterton would provide the closest action of the year. Just 0.029s separated the top three in the second race, Brady winning for a second time, alongside James Needham. Langley went into the last weekend with a three-point advantage over Robinson who would win the first encounter, putting him in the driving seat for the title, but no-one could have predicted a more dramatic finish. Robinson and Langley traded the lead until Robinson misjudged a dive down the inside into Tarzan sending him clattering over Langley’s car. Robinson’s airborne car would come to rest in the Tarzan gravel trap, while a damaged Langley limped home seventh. Not the way either wanted it to end, but it gave Robinson the championship. Mortimer was rewarded with a deserved third for his efforts all year.
The Tracksport cars have typically made their way up from the Academy from ’09 onwards. They have now developed into race-focused machines, with stiffer suspension and removal of the windscreen and lights (though they can be quickly refitted for road use), so they look very similar.