THE SEVEN GOES RACING ON ITS 60TH BIRTHDAY
The 420Rs will be the fastest Caterhams at this very special meeting celebrating 60 years of the Seven – Photo: SnappyRacers
As you’ve probably already gathered, this weekend is a very special one here at Donington Park, as the Caterham Seven celebrates its 60th anniversary here in fine style at the Caterham Festival. The centre of attentions fall on one of the best small British sports cars ever created and along with a display of some 500 cars on track on Saturday to celebrate, Caterham are also making sure the festivities are enhance by doing the one thing they do best – go racing!
All 6 Caterham Motorsport backed championships are in attendance starting with the CAR Magazine Caterham Academy Championship. Both groups kicked off their circuit racing life at Brands Hatch last time out with Daniel French winning the Green Group race in fine style. Caterham Cars CEO Graham MacDonald drove superbly to take 2nd that day and James Murphy scored 3rd, with Toby Clowes and Matt Sheppard also finishing in the top 5. All of them will be names to watch out for. In the White Group, Andy Morgan was a winner from pole but young chargers Tom Grensinger and Oli Pratt were hot on his heels. It’s incredible to think that this is only their second ever circuit race and it’s already on the Donington GP circuit!
Moving a step up to the Avon Tyres Caterham Roadsport Championship, Pete Walters was a man on a mission at Brands Hatch as he took pole in qualifying before dominating both races to retain his points lead. Tom John, Ben Gillias and Jay McCormack all shared the podium that day, but McCormack’s weekend ended with a nasty accident in the second race. He is set to compete this weekend and will be desperate to make up lost points, while Caroline Everett, Eric Tiv and Peter Spencer will also be in the mix for a potential podium finish.
The best Caterham racing of the Brands Hatch weekend came from the Alaco Motorsport Logistics Caterham Seven 270R Championship, where Columbian Daniel Quintero and Alan Cooper secured a win apiece amongst some very frantic dicing between the leaders in both races. These two names will be a constant threat this weekend, along with Quintero’s perennial rival Russ Olivant, Andrew Perry, Rob Watts, Alex Jordan and William Lloyd. The fast and sweeping nature of Donington will certainly provide a stern test, especially as Olivant and Quintero return to the scene of their epic title showdown back in October last year.
There was plenty of drama found in the ITC Compliance Caterham Supersport Championship as Chris Hutchinson ended 4 years of waiting for a victory by winning Race 1 at Brands Hatch. Sadly this jubilation turned to sorrow in Race 2 after an unfortunate accident involving Henry Heaton left both out of the race, as Tim Dickens clinched a win for himself in the process. That said, it’s still Mike Evans who leads the standings from Christian Szaruta and Dan Gore, and all 6 of the above mentioned names will be in contention for victory, along with Ben Tuck whose recent GT exploits will certainly having him feeling on top form.
In the ITC Compliance Caterham Seven 310R Championship will once again see former Olympic cycling gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy take to the track after making his Caterham racing debut at Brands Hatch. He’ll be hoping not to end his weekend in the gravel trap after contact in the second race, while at the front the likes of Lee Bristow, Steve McCulley, Alexander Koeberle and Alistair Calvert will be the main protagonists set to duke it out for the race win. The 310R Championship is new for 2017, as it will take the place of the Supersport championship from next season onwards.
Reuniting with the rest of the Caterham Motorsport roster, the Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship is fresh from its outing at the British GT meeting on the Silverstone GP circuit. John Byrne and Lee Wiggins took a win apiece but it’s Danny Winstanley who heads the standings by 7 points. Jack Sales and Steven Nuttall are also two names that should never be counted out for victory, while other top names to consider include Paul Donkin, William Smith, Jack Brown, Andres Sinclair and Matt Dyer.
It’s not just the Brits who know how to race Caterhams – as a special one off invitational weekend, the French Caterham Cup takes the trip across the Channel to compete here at Donington. All of the cars competing are Caterham R300s, which are known in this country as the 420Rs from this season onwards. Caterham racing in France is always known to be incredibly competitive, so expect fireworks and true wheel-to-wheel action.
But Caterhams aren’t the only form of racing in attendance as there’s also support action from Formula Ford, a category that never ceased to produce heart stopping battles and nail-biting finishes. The ultra-competitive Britcover National Formula Ford 1600 Championship with Avon Tyres boasts a grid full to bursting with top talent as the title battle enters the second half of the season. Names to watch out for include Neil MacLennan, Luke Williams, Luke Cooper, Jamie Thorburn, Sebastien Melrose, Ross Martin, James Roe Jr and Stephen Daly to name a few. Picking a winner from this grid is almost nigh-on impossible!
There’s also the Avon Tyres Northern Formula Ford 1600 Championship that gets to enjoy an away round here at Donington with 5 classes catering for cars of all ages and chassis numbers, from the most contemporary machines in Class A to cars dating back as far as the 1970s in Class E. The competition is nothing but fierce in a championship that usually graces both Oulton Park and Anglesey. Watch out for Class C runner Jaap Blijleven in particular as he’ll be out to win the title both in his class and overall.
This weekend is set to be nothing but non-stop action from start to finish and all in the name of celebrating one very special British sports car. All hail the Caterham Seven – 60 years old and still going stronger than ever!