THE DPR MOTORSPORT APPROACH TO CATERHAM RACING
Following on from a successful weekend at Oulton Park where dpr motorsport supported driver James Maclachlan emphatically won the new Caterham Supersport Championship we take a look at dpr motorsport, who run James alongside several other drivers competing in the Caterham motorsport portfolio.
dpr motorsport team principal David Rowe talked us through their approach to Caterham racing and more importantly driver development, “There is nothing to match tightly regulated one-make championships for close and competitive wheel-to-wheel racing. No matter what level of motorsport is involved, there is never one single aspect that represents a magic “bullet” for success.
For drivers at the beginning of motorsport, the number one priority is to gain seat time with relevant tuition. An airfield handling day represents an ideal environment for gaining safe experience of beyond-the-limit driving. Far better an embarrassing moment in the middle of a wide expanse of tarmac than a descent into the barrier at Paddock.
As a next step focused tuition is a must and technology has moved forwards enormously. Driver coaching has moved on from the paper tick sheet assessment somehow jotted down in a fast-moving passenger seat. Real time measurement combining data with video allows precise driver analysis to take place. With systems such as the video V-box, lap time performance can be dissected down to the fine detail.
The real value in data analysis comes from the ability to benchmark against other drivers in the same type of car. Even a relative novice can compare his times against a championship leader to discover if he has some general failings or whether there is a specific reason for losing time. Our own database contains Caterham “hot laps” for all of the UK circuits.”
With a tightly regulated one -make championship, car set-up and preparation is always a key element, and one that David was keen to emphasise. “The Caterham chassis is extremely sensitive and the specific settings (e.g. toe, camber and ride-height) will vary from circuit-to-circuit and weather conditions. Given our race experience we can get to a base line set-up quite quickly and with our knowledge of driver preferences and feedback during testing this can be fine-tuned. Making use of data analysis allows hard facts to be combined with opinion to confirm that a set-up change has been beneficial.
In terms of those aspects most open to influence, car reliability should have 100% focus both in terms of preventing mechanical failures and ensuring optimum performance throughout the duration of the race. An avoidable in-race mechanical failure is simply not acceptable.
Both car setup and initial tyre pressures are critical to maximising car performance throughout the race together with some pre-race calculations to ensure that the car does not have the penalty of finishing with excessive weight”.
Each season the well regarded Caterham Academy, which will be run by the BRSCC next year, attracts 60 or so new drivers into motorsport and as David Rowe explains it’s a business model admired and emulated by dpr. “We try to adopt a similar process in helping time constrained drivers to get the most out of Caterham motorsport. With our full at-circuit support package all drivers have to do is to turn up on the day and race. We will have taken care of all of the necessary arrangements and their car will be waiting, warmed-up and fully prepared for the race day. Should an on-track incident occur, we use our best endeavours to get them back on track with the minimum of delay”.
With James Maclaclan now adding the Supersport title to the R300 Superlight crown won by Jonathan Walker last year it would certainly seem that dpr has come up with a formula to not only develop driver talent but to also succeed on the track.
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