SNETTERTON SET TO HOST SCORCHING CATERHAM 310R RACES
How competitive did you want this season’s Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship? If the answer was very, you’ll certainly have been pleased as to date it’s been an incredible display of racing over the opening three meetings of the season. As Snetterton now marks the half way stage of 2019, incredibly the title battle is still fairly wide open – not something you may have said given one man’s dominance of the opening four races.
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 biased suspension and Avon ZZS tyres. The result is considered by many to be the best balanced and most enjoyable Caterham ever.
So, back to the opening statement. Leaving Croft, you’d have been forgiven in thinking that Gordon Sawyer was all set to run away with the championship lead, dominate the season and clinch the title he’d missed out on in 2018. Indeed, his wins at Silverstone and Croft arguably marked him out as the fastest man in the field. Then, Oulton Park happened. As part of a nine car lead battle, Sawyer couldn’t manage more than 7th place in Race 1 before a collision with Don Henshall saw him rack up an unexpected DNF in race 2, vitally losing him valuable points and indeed the championship lead in the process. Now 3rd in the standings, Sawyer will be aiming to begin his fight back to the top in Norfolk this weekend.
Taking over the points lead is the ever charismatic and rapid Jay McCormack. Jay must feel that this season could be his year after coming so close to championship glory over the past three seasons. At this stage, McCormack must be tired of being the bridesmaid and never the bride and now he heads to Snetterton leading the way despite the lack of a race win. Four 2nd places and a 3rd have helped him remain on top. His nearest challenger is young Tom Grensinger, who drove superbly at Oulton Park to collect two victories to inject some success into a season that so far had only produced one podium finish to date. Both drivers are in effect teammates, so expect some inter-garage rivalry to continue this weekend.
Outside the top 3, David Yates’ consistent string of top 5 and top 10 finishes have allowed him to score steadily enough to sit in 4th place at this stage, followed by former Academy champion Andrew Perry in 5th who so far has two podiums and two more top fives to remain in touch with the leaders, despite also sporting a retirement. Richard Lambert and James Beardwell are two more drivers that have had something of a lottery of race results and both unable to find a definitive place in the pecking order, even though both are 6th and 7th in the standings respectively.
The bottom three in the top 10 are drivers that in theory should be much higher than their results currently let on. Don Henshall, the man involved in the incident which resulted in Sawyer’s Race 2 retirement from Oulton, hasn’t yet scored a podium but has threatened in every single race so far, so don’t be surprised for him to produce more of the same here. Just behind him are Pete Walters and Ben Gillias, both former Caterham champions further down the latter but struggling in the midst of an ultra-competitive entry. Walters has been able to secure two 3rd places so far this year, while Gillias doesn’t seem to have found the groove in his first season back in the Caterham Motorsport paddock after taking a year out to race elsewhere. Here’s hoping he finds his race winning form again soon!