Caterham 270R Brands Hatch race weekend

The final round of the Caterham 270R Championship was held at Brands Hatch on the shorter Indy circuit.

I went into the race weekend on high spirits as it’s my local track and I was looking good for being in the top 3 of the championship. Unfortunately despite having a really fun weekend a crash on the Sunday ended my championship hopes. But that’s just the highs and lows of racing.

After the end of an eventful season. Dan French would be crowned champion after a strong campaign all year and despite a wheel falling off and a broken finger would end up winning with a race to spare. James Murphy would stage an outstanding comeback to secure 2nd place after string of bad luck early in the season. Justin Heap would take the 3rd place by virtue of having more victories than Greg Monks who he was tied on points with. Both Justin and Greg had jumped straight from Academy to 270R and did really well against a tough group of drivers. After my non finish on Sunday I would round out the top 5 a few points behind.

The official Caterham footage of the first race can be seen on YouTube.

Quali – P5

At Brands Hatch track position helps and starting near the front would make the race easier. Having gone out near the front of the pack my aim was to clear the slower cars and then try and put in some fast banker laps in clear air before dropping back into the pack and try and find someone to get a tow off to set a better lap.

First part of this plan when well and without a tow I managed to set the 5th best time. As I never managed to get a clear lap when trying to get a tow for most of the session. I was really glad I decided to take a risk on going it alone early in the session.

Race 1 – P9

The first race didn’t get off to a great start where I got boxed in and dropped from 5th to 8th. However luckily for me there was an accident further back in the field and the race was restarted. Lining up for a second time I was determined to not make the same mistake and this time was able to hold my ground and keep 5th place. The first 10 minutes of the race were pretty good.

The front group of cars including me had broken away from the main pack and it looked like if we sprinted ahead we could then argue out the podium towards the end of the race. Typical this wasn’t the way it went and the guys at the front started scrapping which backed everyone into the pack behind. At this point I lost ground to Dan French who I needed to finish ahead of to keep my championship hopes alive. Instead I changed tack and just aimed to stay ahead of Justin Heap who was at that point 3rd in the championship 10 points behind me. In hindsight this was a mistake as I should have focused on scoring as many points as possible and not worried about the championship outcomes.


I ended up finishing 9th my worse finish of the year but critically one position ahead of Justin which put me a little bit closer to getting 2nd in the championship. My poor finish meant that Dan French would go on to win a well deserved championship with a race to spare.

Podium

  • P1: Tom Allen
  • P2: James Murphy
  • P3: Graham MacDonald

Race 2 – DNF

Since Dan French had won the championship on Saturday he elected to not take part in the last race. Which promoted me into 8th place on the grid, personally I would have preferred to stay 9th as odd number are on the inside of the first corner. The danger of the outside is if the person next to you messes up they will knock you off the track. Which is exactly what happened. Luckily I didn’t get stuck in the gravel but had dropped from 8th to 23rd out of 24 cars. Given I needed to finish at least 8th to keep my second place in the championship this was a total disaster. To say I was annoyed was a bit of an understatement. At least it all went wrong on the first corner and I had 30 minutes ahead of me to drive the wheels off the car and get back near the front.

Only took me 7 minutes to fight my way back past 13 cars into 10th place. By which point there was a 5 second gap to 9th place. Now 5 seconds doesn’t sound a lot but in Caterham racing that is a huge gap to close. So it was business as usual with me having to buckle down and try and close the gap to the cars in front. After a long 12 minutes I had joined the back of a chain of cars fighting for 5th.

At this point I thought game on I’m just 2 positions short of getting the 8th place I needed. I was so caught up in the fight back and the fact I had a run on the cars ahead I forgot about the wet patch of track on the exit of clearways and spun the car into the pit wall. Hero to zero in one gear change! The car was drivable and I managed to get going again.  It was obvious something was wrong with the car having hit the wall pretty hard and I was forced to retire.

Failing to finish the race resulting in me dropping from 2nd to 5th in the championship which was pretty gutting after such a successful season. Hey how that is motorsport so much fun but can all go wrong in an instance.

Podium

  • P1: James Murphy
  • P2: Greg Monks
  • P3: Oli Pratt

Final Thoughts

Wow what a season. Sure I didn’t get the 270R championship podium finish I was aiming for. But a top 3 finish was clearly within reach and I’ve learnt a lot this year about putting together a championship campaign. I started the year with my first win, managed to get 6 podium finishes, 3 fastest laps and a lap record. All things considered my best season so far.

Next year I’ll be trying my luck in the 310R championship which is the next step in the wonderful world of the Caterham Motorsport ladder.

Over the winter there might be some other exciting races I will get involved in. More on those shortly…

Photos from Jon @ Snappy Racers

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