A few weeks ago it was time to go racing again at Donington Park for the penultimate round of the Caterham 270R championship. I really like Donington as it’s a great flowing track. It was also the place I got my first podium back in my academy year. So was hopeful for a couple of good results.
Overall it was a pretty good weekend where I picked up a 4th and a 3rd. Strangely disappointed in some ways. A better quali plus if a couple of on track moments had gone my way I could have come away with bigger trophies. Still a 4th and 3rd gives me another set of consistent points towards the championship.
Qualifying was just an amazing 20 minutes. Dan and I have worked out a pretty good system around sharing the benefits of the tow. This being the 6th race weekend of the year we have pretty much got the system nailed. Generally it works better for one of us that the other, that is just life. But this quali was just a masterclass in how to totally messed it up. Not just once but on every single lap. Missed gears, missed braking points, confusion over who was leading who and where.
At the end of it I was amazed I was as high as 10th on the grid. Words can’t describe how annoying it is when you are way up on the sector times for most of the lap only to push too hard and throw it all away.
Race 1 – P4
Before starting the race I was joking with someone that starting at the tail end of the faster pack (10th) is pretty much the story of my Saturday races this season. I went on to predict that I would lost a few places on the start. Eventually I would fight my way up to 4th place by which point the front 3 would have pulled away. There would then be a few laps where I would get to stretch my legs setting some faster laps and close on the lead group towards the end when they start fighting. Turns out that was exactly what happened. I did waste too much time in the pack fighting which meant I ran out of time toward the end and had to settle for 4th place.
Having started from 10th I was pretty happy with that result. Especially as I finished ahead of Dan French and Justin Heap who are the two people closest to me in the championship. It was also great to see James Murphy (1st) back on the stop step having had a terrible year of bad luck with people driving into him. Greg (2nd) and Tom Allen (3rd) rounded off a close fight for the podium which could have gone either way.
- P1: James Murphy
- P2: Greg Monks
- P3: Tom Allen
Race 2 – P3
Finishing 4th in race one put me in a far better position for race two. Starting on the outside of the second row. I got an ok start and held on to 4th to the first corner. Ended up conceding a place to Justin Heap on the run down to Old Hairpin as it wasn’t worth fighting that early in the race. After a few laps I settled into 2nd behind James Murphy and the two of us worked together to pull a gap on the rest of the pack. Annoyingly we were just on the cusp of making the breakaway when the yellow flags were brought out. Yellow flags always pose a challenge especially when marshall’s are on track retrieving a car. If you don’t slow enough race control might rightly decided to bring out the safely car which then bunches everyone back up again. If you are in the leading cars this always a problem as there is no written rule to say how much you have to slow down by. In this situation James and I slowed down more than the people behind us and our slender gap was gone.
It was always going to be close through the chicane on the last lap and unfortunately I ended up on a compromised line had a bit of a slide on the marbles and dropped from 2nd to 6th with two hairpins to go see the video at 30:37. I was luckily able to quickly find some space down the inside and recover to 3rd. After spending most of the race either leading or in 2nd place I was a bit disappointed with the 3rd place to be honest. However again from a championship point of view it worked out well as again I finished ahead of Dan French and Justin Heap which helps my championship cause.
- P1: James Murphy
- P2: Greg Monks
- P3: Matt Sheppard
Caterham Motorsport finishes it’s 2019 season on the 28/29th September at Brands Hatch. For most of the Caterham championships including 270R the championship podium has come down to the wire. If the season so far is any indication the racing should be spectacular to watch. Brands Hatch is by far the best race for a spectator as you can see the whole track from some places.
As for my championship hopes I’m currently in 4th place overall. However when the final results are calculated the worse two results are dropped which promotes me up to 2nd place going into the last race weekend!
Photos from Jon @ Snappy Racers