Snetterton outtakes

During a race weekend the test days are often more fun than the race itself as everyone works out what we can get away with on track.
Far too many great battles and near misses to sort through but here are a few of the more ‘interesting’ moments.

I think we had a record few red flags this weekend so we must all be getting better at avoiding walls and each other.

Caterham Academy Snetterton – 7th place

After the 3rd place at the last round I went into the Snetterton race weekend with high hopes for another podium.

Despite ending up 7th I had my best weekend from a fun point of view. Having started on pole, spun to last and then passed 2/3rds of the field.

The weekend started with two days of testing. The first day was a track day spent with Callum helping my improve on a couple of corners I was losing time on. By Friday morning I was really starting to get quicker but still suffering with a long brake pedal and sliding around a lot. Over lunch with the help of James I replaced the brake pads and bled the system. Along with throwing on a different set of tyres.
All of a sudden the car felt amazing and I was able to lap in free air for several laps under the lap record pace. During the day I also had some amazing battles with various drivers and was really upbeat about my chances in the race.

Quali was an early start 9am on Saturday. The usual suspect joined the queue early to get the best chance of a tow on the straights. The whole session was really enjoyable and very tactical as the group ahead of me kept backing off towards the end of their laps to swap positions on the back straight which then caused me to abort mine. On the last lap I decided to sacrifice some of the tow and leave an even bigger gap and hope for the best. It worked as I managed to cross the line with a 2:17.519 which was enough to secure pole. After making mistakes in the two previous race quali I was really happy that I finally nailed it.

Leading the pack around for the start of the race was a great feeling. I just hoped to get a good start and break the curse of the Green Group where whoever starts on pole gets a poor start and ends up off the track on the first lap. The lights turned green and we were away in my case with far too much wheel spin and I was back in 4th. I made a stupid mistake catching a slide around Palmer and put a wheel on the grass at which point I was just a passenger heading for the wall. Luckily I stopped just short of the wall and watched the entire field go by as I sat there wheel spinning trying to get back to the track.

Two things quickly passed my mind the first is unprintable. The second was awesome I didn’t hit the wall the race is not over yet.

Once back on the track a distant last the aim was simple. Just drive as fast as possible and overtake anything I could. By the end of the first lap it turned out I wasn’t the only front runner near the back and I had Mark & Toby for company. There were so many great battles over the next 7 laps as the three of us worked our way through the field. At the time I had no idea what position I was in. Just keep pushing forward and catch up with the next car. It was only in parc ferme at the end of the race when we all parked up in finish order that it hit me how many cars I had passed.

Sure it wasn’t the win I was looking for and I would have loved to have finally had a battle with Dan at the front. But getting past 16 cars in 7 laps was as much fun. I’m just grateful I didn’t smash into the wall or take any other cars out with my spin. I got to finish the race while having some great battles with a great group of mates.

Next stop is Rockingham on 16/17th September. Running order is to be confirmed but likely to be quali on Saturday and race on Sunday.

Aim is to keep it on the black stuff!

#CaterhamFamily

Photos courtesy of Jon @ SnappyRacers.com

Caterham Academy Donington Park – 3rd place

The Caterham season continued at Donington Park with sunny skies and high hopes to finally get onto the elusive podium.

It was also the first weekend of having the Caterham in the back of a van. Which it turned out was possible the best purchase of the year. Since it allowed me to bring multiple set of wheels, more tools. Possible the biggest advantage was psychological. If the worse happened on track. I no longer needed to worry about driving the Caterham home.

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After two days of testing I was happy with my pace and it looked like the fight at the front would be between the same group as Brands. With a few more people likely to get involved as the field starts to get closer.

Qualifying was Saturday evening at 6:30pm so it was a long day of watching the other races and faffing with the car. I don’t know if it was the pressure or how it went wrong but I forgot how to change from 2nd to 3rd on 5 of my 7 laps. Not sure where 3rd was but it wasn’t where I was trying to put it. I ended up 5th overall which I was happy with as after losing time on pretty much every lap I had assumed I would be further down the field. I knew if I could sort out my own mental issues with 2nd-3rd changes I would go well.

Our race was early afternoon which gave me time to watch some of the races and catchup with the family and friends which came along to support, Thanks everyone it means a lot to have you there even at times if I don’t show it!

I didn’t get a particularly good start but after the first corner action I managed to move up to 4th. Then the fun and games really started where Graham, Neil and I spent the first 1/2 of the race overtaking each other pretty much every other corner. I finally got myself in what felt like a “safer” 3rd and thought I could catch up the lead two. I then missed a 2nd to 3rd change and fell back to 5th. Lucky the video can’t hear my view on that!


I then spent the next couple of laps getting my 3rd place back. That is what I loved about Donington. In the right situation it’s possible to overtake on every corner. If you have the time left there is always hope. While all this had been going on James who started in 1st and drop back behind us after the first corner had rejoined the fight for 3rd. I’m not sure exactly what happened at the chicane but when I saw a big gap had formed behind me I couldn’t help but smile. I now had a couple of second air to Graham. All I need to do was drive ‘sensibly’ on the last lap and 3rd was mine. Crossing the line and seeing the chequered flag was a great moment. Getting back to the pit and then standing on the podium was awesome. As was all the kind words from all the other drivers. There is such a good camaraderie between us. It’s an interesting dynamic as you want your friends to do well and feel bad for them when they have a problem. But their lost is generally your gain.20423887_988138694660929_4702256651358950298_o

Roll on 5th Aug for the next round at Snetterton.

#CaterhamFamily

Photos courtesy of Jon @ SnappyRacers.com

Caterham Academy Brands Hatch – 5th place

Finished 5th at Brands Hatch after qualifying 3rd.

A few days ago I literally lived a childhood dream and took part my first race at Brands Hatch.

It was a 4 days event I will never forget from the on track freedom of test days. To the pressures of quali and culminating in an epic 15min race within the front of the pack. At the moment there seems to be 5 of us which are a little bit faster than the rest of the pack. It will only take a couple more races for that group to grow as several people were close behind. Great job by Dan, Graham & James taking the top spots!

I’ve been struggling to decide what to write about on Brands Hatch. Since I could go on for ages about the fun of racing, stuff I’ve learnt, near misses or what could have been if I had tried harder.

At the end of the day I think one phrase sums it up #CaterhamFamily. All the competitors & their families along with the Caterham staff are just such a great bunch of people and everyone celebrates the highs and supports each other through the lows.

 

I was fortunate that this weekend I managed to have a good one and apart from a few issues in testing I walked away with a second row quali and 5th in the race. Sure I would have loved to have been on the podium and without a doubt I could have got my elbows out more. Given some of the damage other people had part of me was happy to have finished the first race with the car intact!

 

Next race is Donington Park on Sunday 9th July which has some longer straights which should mean for lots of overtaking chances.

Caterham Academy Curborough Sprint – 7th place

7th at a wet & damp Curborough.

After just missing out on a podium at Aintree I was hopefully for a better result at Curborough alas it was not meant to be. Still had an awesome time sliding the car around. Just would have prefer less rain or after my run instead of before it!

 

The weekend weather forecast was always a bit dicy and going out second to last in Green Group was either going to give me the most dried out track or if it rained mid group possibly the wettest. Unfortunately only the first 9 cars got an almost dry track. The rest of us were several seconds off the pace due to the weather. That was a shame as after the semi-dry practise runs there could have been 10+ people in the hunt for a podium instead of 4.


In motorsport that is how it goes sometimes so great job James, Toby & John making the best of the conditions at the time to get in a good lap.

Once it was clear there was no chance of a fast time regardless of how tidy the lap was. The last couple of runs were actually a lot of fun throwing the car around a bit.
One positive is on the last run where everyone had an equally damp track I got the second fastest time. Which is a bit of a racing driver excuse but all things being equal think I would have gotten on that podium or close to it.

Bring on Brands Hatch in two weeks đź™‚

#caterhamfamily