Caterham 270R Spa race weekend

I have raced at Spa how cool is that! The Europe away round of the Championship is always a highlight of the year and being at Spa supporting the British GT was such a great thing to be part of.

I had another solid points weekend picking up a P5, P2 and a fastest lap point.

The official TV footage from Caterham is on their YouTube channel.

Quali P8

Since the 270R’s and Roadsport’s would be racing together it meant that quali was always going to be a lottery and trying to get anything resembling a clean lap in was going to be a challenge. What didn’t help was some of the Roadsport drivers treated the quali as a race where they could try and beat a 270R by dive bombing us into the corners. Which general screwed both drivers laps.


After a very frustrating 20 minutes I eventually managed to string together one poor lap a couple of seconds off the pace. Luckily for me everyone else had the problems and I bagged P8. To be honest this wasn’t the end of the world as Spa has a lot of long straights and overtaking would be easy enough.

Race 1 – P5

In the build up to the first race everyone took a gamble that it would remain dry. What a mistake that was! The worsening weather led to the race starting as a rolling start behind a safety car instead of the usual standing start. In all honesty this was probably a good thing as we all spaced out. If we had all piled into La Source in a group it would have ended in tears.

The race was one of the most scary but fun things I have ever done in a car. I was fortunate to avoid any collisions and apart from a spin just before the red flag I had managed to work my way up into 4th place. Annoyingly the red flag meant that the rules state the order on the lap before the red flag is the finishing order so I got demoted back to 5th place.

Podium

  • P1: Tom Allen
  • P2: Neil Fraser
  • P3: Dan French

Race 2 – P2

After the terrible conditions in race one everyone was relieved to see a dry forecast for race two. Starting in P5 gave me the inside line at the first corner. Which hopefully would turn out a safe place to be. I wasn’t paying attention at the start again! and took a second to notice the lights were out and everyone else was moving, muppet. By the time we got through the first corner I had dropped to 10th. What happened next was just all a bit odd. For the first 10 minutes the car just felt so slow. I was easily being out dragged by everyone and dropped down to 15. I was starting to think I might have a fuel pump issue. Andy one of the other drivers had the same issue in testing. Caterham fuel pumps are a bit fragile and as a general rule you replace them after a heavy rear impacts. Being a bit of a cheapskate I didn’t do this after the Croft incident and had forgotten to look at it.

I was sure my race was going to be a disaster and was just about to lose interest when I hit a curb hard and down the next straight I was able to keep up with people again. Still not sure if it was all in my head or really a mechanical issue but the sudden dose of speed transformed the race for me and started to make a effort to claw my way back through the field.

A few close calls later avoiding other peoples mistakes I managed to get myself to the head of the second pack of cars. With what looked like a gap to the lead group that was going to be hard to close. Dan Halstead, Greg Monks and I started working together to close the gap. Luck was on our side as lead group started scrapping and after they tripped over each other at the bus stop chicane it bunched the field back up.

Going onto the last lap I got a great tow down the Kemmel straight and jumped from 4th to 1st. Which would leave me a sitting duck on the long drag back to the end of the lap. I quickly hatched a plan to leave the door wide open after Pouhon in the hope that Justin would be unable to help himself and dive up the inside. Then the plan was to be slow out of Stavelot so that Tom Allen could also get past allowing me to drop back into 3rd and get a double tow down the last straight and catapult back into the lead.

As it was the plan was half a success. Justin took the bait while Tom ran wide on the exit of Stavelot. Cruising past Justin I knew I would have the fast charging GMac alongside me into the last chicane. GMac had the inside and I tried to get him on the outside of the last corner but I couldn’t quite make it stick without risking the car. Would have been pretty embarrassing to take us both out on the last corner so decided to settle for 2nd and take the points. Great finish being on the podium at Spa and also for GMac to make it back on the podium in style.

Podium

  • P1: Graham Macdonald
  • P2: Matt Sheppard
  • P3: Justin Heap

Final Thoughts

Racing at Spa was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Standing on the podium while the British GT cars were lined up on the grid was just so cool.

Next race is at Donington Park 17th August. No one has raced their since our Academy year. Going to be interesting to see how it goes. In all likelihood it’s going to be another close race at the front of the pack. Personally I’m just looking to score solid points. Ideally more than the drivers closest to me in the championship.

Photos from Jon @ Snappy Racers.

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