After a couple of months of messing around on track days today it got serious. The Caterham Academy season kicked off at a sunny Aintree sprint course.
The big different with sprints to circuits is you don’t get anywhere near the practise time. This was a big change for me as I’m used to spending a day or days at a track getting faster and faster.
With the sprint there are 2 practise runs. Followed by 4 timed runs where the fastest timed run counts.
After the first timed run I was placed 2nd. At which point I started to take the whole thing a lot more seriously and trying to work out who could push me down the order in the later runs. Looking at the times there were at least 5 or 6 people who could have ended up on the podium. It all came down to who made the least mistakes in the later runs. Each run was a little bit faster than the last. Unfortunately for me both Graham and James managed to go a few hundredths of a second fast than me and I got bumped down to 4th.
Still 4th out of 27 drivers in the Green Group is a great first result as that is well into the top 10 target I set myself. However looking back at the video I fluffed the start and had a few mistakes on all the corners. So losing out to 3rd by 0.01 secs is such a small margin!
But credit where credit is due Dan, Graham & James were all faster when it matters and Andy had a blinder in the White Group setting a new lap record. So awesome job guys, and everyone else that took part.
Can’t wait to the next event at Curborough on Saturday 20th May.
It’s been 2 months since my first day on track and on Friday I was back where I started at Snetterton. Last time here was a big leap into the unknown and I felt like a moving chicane on a very wet track. Now I’m back here with a properly setup car and 12 track days under my belt I’m a much faster driver.
Being a bank holiday there was a real mix of ‘normal’ cars on track compared to track days earlier in the season which are mainly racing cars testing. Had some great moments on track with fellow Academy drivers and chasing down faster cars.
Snetterton looks a really simple track on a map but some of the corners are difficult on the limit. The long straights means the effect of drafting other cars is huge in a Caterham. When we race there in August there is going to be a lot of overtaking!
I always like going to Brands Hatch as its a short drive from home and the circuit is easy to learn and difficult to master. On Wednesday I had Callum again for the day teaching me how it’s done. However Brands is a short track and traffic is a real problem. At times it was a bit like driving on the M25 where everyone sits on the outside waiting to get past.
Getting a clean lap became the biggest challenge of the day. At least with the vbox you can break the track into sectors. That means that even if the lap as a whole wasn’t your best you can get a theoretical best time. Eventually a few people started to go home and later on in the day there was less traffic. In the end my lap times were pretty competitive and i’m really looking forward to the race in June.
On track there was a real mix of cars but the highlight was a 1970 Porsche 917K Lemans car! At least 6 other Academy racers were there and it was great to catch up with everyone to see how they are all getting on. The more time we spend on track together the more competitive it gets and i’m really starting to get used to tailgating at 100mph.
The 2017 Caterham Academy had its first official test day at Castle Combe on Friday. This was the first time all competitors had the chance to get on track together.
Test days run slightly differently to track days. With a track day there are all sort of rules around only overtaking on the left and in safe places. While test days are race cars only and overtaking is wherever you fancy going for it.
Being able to overtake on both side and in braking zones was a revelation. My tendency to over brake and late turned out to be pretty useful for diving down the inside off line and getting past people. Currently there is a big difference between the speed of the various drivers but i’m sure that will get closer as the season progresses.