Just as he had in the sister series in the 420Rs, it was Matthew Lewis who broke the win streak of Harry Senior in the Caterham Academy Series, as the pair took a victory each in Monday night’s latest rounds at the Anglesey International circuit.

Qualifying produced a new pole sitter in DPR Motorsport team manager David Rowe produced a superb lap to end up over a tenth fastest ahead of Senior, with James Murphy and Matthew Lewis ready to line up on the second row together and Lewis and Will Rossetti set to start from row three.

Off the line, it was Senior that grabbed the best start compared to Rowe and led the field through Turn 1 and on the approach into The Banking, with Rowe, Lewis and Murphy following suit. Lewis tried for 2nd place on the run to Rocket, attempting the inside line to take the position from Rowe but his failed attempt only gave Murphy a chance to get through, but to no avail. A mistake from Rossetti also saw him drop down to 9th, but the drama near the head of the field was about to take place. With Lewis and Rowe side by side, contact between pair sent Rowe spinning across his rival’s bow and tumbling all the way down to 17th place, throwing any chance of a race win out of the window, while Lewis managed to just about escape unscathed despite a trip on the grass.

Wingfield would put Lewis under pressure midway through Lap 2, but the 420R Series race winner from a few days ago wasn’t troubled and managed to hold on in front as leader Senior began attempting his usual disappearing trick n the lead to the tune of almost three seconds. Wingfield came under threat from McMaster for 4th position shortly afterwards and as the race headed into its second half, the pair banged wheel through School curve, eventually leaving McMaster to end up spinning across the grass and into the tyres, thus pushing him down to 7th place. In Steve’s place, Paul Fernihough began looking at mounting a challenge of his own on Wingfield, who this time seemed able to keep his pursuer at bay.

The battle for 2nd place heated up with less than five minutes to go as Lewis looked to the outside of Murphy for the Rocket complex and while he couldn’t quite prise the door open on the first attempt, Lewis ensured he kept on hammering away until he took an opportunity into the Bus Stop, diving inside Murphy to draw level down the pit straight and eventually through into 2nd place. By this point with just two minutes left, Senior was untroubled in the lead and ran down the clock unchallenged to collect his fifth Academy Series win in a row by more than 3.5 seconds. Lewis and Murphy completed the podium places ahead of Wingfield and Fernihough, Jamie Ellwood managed to secure a strong 6th place for one of his best results to date, Rossetti and McMaster recovered to 7th and 8th respectively, and Steve Arnell took 9th ahead of Rowe, who battled back up the order to clinch the final top 10 place.

The second race allowed Senior to start on the opposite side of the grid from pole with Lewis next to him thanks to his 2nd place finish in Race 1, and the pair would end up side by side through Turn 1 and The Banking before Lewis executed a beautiful little switchback move to steal the lead exiting Church. Murphy made an attempt to take 2nd from Senior through the Rocket complex but light contact only forced him into a half spin which put him down to 6th before both Arnell and McMaster tried unsuccessfully to take more places from him one corner later at Peel.

Lewis led the opening lap by a second from Senior, Wingfield and Rossetti, although the latter of the three would get into trouble of his own when he ran wide the hairpin to allow Murphy through, only to make contact with Arnell on the redress which left both spinning out of the top 10. Despite this mishap, the top six drivers remained fairly calm and static at the head of the field, with the top three of Lewis, Senior and Wingfield covered by less than two seconds and the respective gaps barely fluctuating. Most of the action was taking place outside of the top 10, and this came to a head when Rossetti lost the car under braking for Rocket while battling for 11th place with Mark Rider, the pair making contact and collecting the innocent Allan Curtis in the process  who had been running just in front of them. Geoff Newman would also get caught up in the melee when Rider ended up clattering into him as the three cars all tried to quickly rejoin the race.

Back near the head of the field, Rowe moved into the top 5 at McMaster’s expense with a strong outside pass that began at the Bus Stop and ended at Turn 1, leaving the DPR team boss with the entire second half of the race to make further progress up the order. Rowe managed to catch and pass Murphy to move into 4th place shortly afterwards, but by this stage the race was coming to a close with just two minutes left. As for leader Lewis, he wasn’t able to shake Senior off his tail by more than just over a second but nonetheless he had just enough pace to keep him at bay. Just as he had done at Knockhill in the 420Rs, Lewis proved that Senior can be beaten as he clinched the win in Race 2 just a second ahead with Wingfield joining them on the podium and Rowe completing a strong drive to 4th place with Murphy in tow. McMaster could only manage 6th from Ellwood, Arnell and Rossetti, while Mark Lapicki will have been please with the progress he had made as he claimed the final top 10 spot.

For both the Academy and 420R series, a virtual trip across the English Channel into continental Europe awaits as Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands will play host with the updated GP circuit likely to be utilised. Be sure to tune in on Friday May 15th for the 420R contest and on the 18th for the Academy races!

Scott Woodwiss


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