Silverstone 7th and Final round of the Caterham Roadsport Championship

The Caterham Motorsport family descended on Silverstone a few weeks ago for the final round of the Roadsport Championship. Silverstone always provides some close racing as the all mighty tow means if you are in a pack there is no escape.

Summary

The weekend was the epitome of my Roadsport season. In testing showed a good turn of speed. Failed to capitalise on that pace in quali followed by a good start. Then part way through the races making a careless mistake and having to fight back through the field again.
On the positive side I have learnt a few new things at Silverstone.
  1. I can do decent starts now and actually are making places up instead of losing them off the line.
  2. When others try to crowd you off the track instead backing out or moving closer to the grass. Just let the other driver hit you… They soon move back over the other way.

Results

  • Quali – 12th place. Don’t drive a dry setup on a wet track.
  • Race 1 – 7th place. Very wet race, Great start up from 12th to 7th, spun off back to 13th. Then fought back to 7th.
  • Race 2 – 6th place. Almighty battle between 10 people over 2nd to 11th. Had a moment off the track on exactly the same corner as last year!
Congratulation to the podiums in both races.
  • Race 1 = James Murphy (P1), Dan French (P2) & Toby Clowes (P3)
  • Race 2 = Dan French (P1), Oli Pratt (P2) & Neil Fraser (P3)

Championship outcome.

Congratulations on James for winning the championship by one point over Dan F. Both drivers would have been worthy champions having made the least mistakes year. Also great job by GMac on 3rd place.
I would end up 6th in the Championship 2 points behind Tom A (P5) and 7 point off Dan H (P4).

Race 1 video in 4K 360

In car https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulEIT0T5ji0

Race 2 video in car

4K 360 (Annoying blur): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2tH2eRBqQY

Quali 13th

So quali didn’t go close to plan and I had my worse result to date. Which was massively frustrating and my fate was sealed based on a choice I made an hour before we even got onto the track. I looked at the forecast and amount of rain falling at the time and decided that the track would start off damp and get dryer. Therefore decided to go out with a dry setup. The rain never got heavy but it was enough to keep the track damp and cold. I was left tiptoeing around the track unable to get enough heat in the tyres to make them grip.
I knew I was in for a shocker when drivers I would normally race are disappearing into the distance. Other drivers who I would normally breeze past were catching me up.
Silverstone quali 1
Another important motorsport lesson learnt about the effect tyre temperature has on the car handling. On the road the majority of people wouldn’t be able to tell if one of the 4 tyres on the car was a psi or two out. In racing the difference is huge and the closer you get to the limit the more you feel it. If you can’t get heat into the tyres they don’t stick and you might as well be driving round with van tyres.
With a wet race forecast and it being easier to overtake at Silverstone I was looking forward to a good race. I just needed to stay away from any midfield mishaps in the first few corners.

Race 1 – 7th Place

By the time our race started the track was soaking wet. Starting in 12th due to Neil having a grid penalty I knew it was going to be an exciting race. In the wet I could go pretty well and make up some places. Things got off to a great start and was up to 9th by the first braking point. By the last chicane I was 7th and feeling pretty happy with myself.
Typically it was short lived and I managed to lose the backend on the upshift taking the last corner at 90 degrees taking up half the track width. Luckily everyone behind me managed to avoid me and I was back to 13th! I really have to stop doing this to myself!
The rest of the race was a lot of fun as I picked my way past various drivers. Progress was curtailed by yellow flags to clear up an accident from Stowe to Club for several laps. Which left Abbey & Village as the only 2 corners to overtake. All the way to the end I was catching up with the cars in front so it was a shame I threw so much away on that spin early on. Due to all the spray and poor visibility I had no idea what place I was in so 7th was a pleasant  surprise.

Race 2 – 6th Place

Race two was well just a bit bonkers and I really don’t know where to begin. So many overtakes, near misses, four or five abreast into corners. It really was a showcase in everything which makes Caterham racing exciting to watch and I’m sure the crowds watching loved it.
In the car it was fun but in a lot of ways frustrating. Dan F was able to walk away in front while five of us behind scrapped over 2nd. All this scrapping lead to us lapping a couple of seconds slower than we could. Later on in the race this pack of cars had increased to ten of us constantly battling.
Unfortunately the inevitable happened and a few people collided which gifted me three places on the last lap. I also gain a place when Simon missed a gear out of the last corner. Which was ironic since he had got past me two corners earlier when I accidentally went from fifth to second instead of fourth.
Great photos from Jon @ snappyracers.com

Caterham Academy 2017 Season Review

As the 2018 Roadsport season is fast approaching I thought it was about time to put into words my first year of motor racing in 2017.

Congratulations to all the drivers that took part it was at lot of fun racing you. Everyone that went home with silverware well done. But don’t get too used to it the rest of us will be after some in Roadsport!

Caterham Academy 2017 - Leading at Silverstone

I started my racing life in the Green Group which i’m sure was full of the competitive people which meant the competition was fierce. (I’m sure every group says that). It did seem to be less crashy than the White Group so I do take that as a blessing!

For a first year in motorsport I did pretty well. Over the year I was always part of the front pack fighting for podiums and finished 5th out of 27 in the championship. Along the way I started on the front row 3 times including a pole. Broke a lap record at Silverstone and set the fastest lap in the race a few times, lead races, etc. Unfortunately I made a few mistakes or at least more than my fellow racers and only walked away with a single podium 3rd place at Donington. I can think of plenty of ‘racing driver excuses’ as to where I went wrong which I’ll not bore you with. Bottom line is I made some costly mistakes (in time not damage) and will try to make less of them in Roadsport. Still not a bad start in my first year of motorsport.

Caterham Academy 2017 - In the pack at Silvestone

I have to say thanks to a few people this year. My parents for following me around to all the circuits. Family and friends that came alone to watch. My race coach Callum Macleod who really helped me get more out of myself and the car. Caterham Motorsport team for putting on such a great championship and fixing our cars when we accidentally bend bits at race weekends. DPR Motorsport for working on the car between racing when I couldn’t. Jon @ Snappy Racers for some awesome photography. Wow that is a longer list than I thought.

Oh not to forget (as if I ever could) my fellow racers. You guys have been the best and I can’t wait for Roadsport to start when we can all go wheel to wheel again.

Silverstone Trophy race – 4th

The second race of the weekend was a chance to see who really is the best in the Academy as it was a non championship race with both groups mixed. Due to it being oversubscribed the quali/race was replaced with two races.

The format was odd numbers in one race, even numbers in the other. I finished 5th in the championship so started in 5th place with both championship winners and in the middle of a fast group of drivers. All I needed was a good start. Surely after 5 races I would be 6th time lucky right… I consider I was lucky that no one hit me from behind as I dropped from 5th to 12th. I enjoy a bit of a fight but seriously I have to stop doing this to myself.

Since everyone had done a race the day before everyone was really on the ball and the whole race was another brilliant scrap. It was a lot of fun going wheel to wheel with some of the white group for a change who I had never raced against. Managed to get back into the lead at one point and narrowly missed out on 3rd place to Andy.
Accidentally hit Tom at one point due to a misunderstanding over lines which was totally my fault. I shouldn’t have assumed his line would have been the same as James was in the same situation the race before. Really happy that neither of us were seriously damaged and Tom went on to win and beat both champions!

Managed to claim the fastest lap for my third race in a row but due to the rain a little slower than the new record I set on Saturday.

Silverstone – 7th place

Silverstone was a special weekend for several reasons:

  • It’s the last championship round of the year
  • It’s the last I will get to race some people who will not be moving to Roadsport next year. I will miss you guys!
  •  There is an extra non championship race where the two Academy groups race together for the first time to see who is really the fastest.

To keep the race reports short I’ll split them up then add a summary once I’ve collected my thoughts on an amazing year.

Saturday morning was quali and I managed to get P2 alongside James who was on pole. Really happy to get my 3rd front row start in a row. The front five was the usual crowd so it was going to be another exciting race. I have had a serious problem with my starts and all I wanted to do was get a decent one this time.

The red lights went out and I leapt forward and nailed my best launch. In my excitement I then mistimed the clutch missing 2nd gear and dropped to 5th. Four minutes later I managed to pull possible my best move of the year into the chicane as we went four abreast into the Club braking zone, 4th to 1st in one move! Found myself leading a race for the first time until the Hanger Straight where I was a sitting duck and back to 4th. This carried on for another five minutes until Graham and I were battling over 2nd and in hindsight either of us should have given way and we didn’t and both spun out without hitting each other or anyone else lucky. From 2nd to 11th in one move! Looking back it was a silly situation but on the video I can’t see any reason why the line didn’t work that time. Oh well that is racing.

Graham and I both rejoined the track with five minutes to go and started chasing down the pack. On the way to claiming 6th place I managed to set the fastest lap of the race and a new lap record by 0.4 seconds.

Obviously annoyed with myself for throwing away a likely podium again but getting a new lap record made me feel a little better about it. Also getting away with a massive spin and not damaging anyones car is a big thing to be happy about!

More to follow on the other race.

Rockingham – 4th place

Rockingham was another exciting weekend at the front of the pack. Where I quali 2nd and finished 4th and got the fastest lap of the race.

Firstly congratulations to Dan for claiming the championship before the final round. I think I still have a possibility of claiming anywhere between 2nd and 5th depending on how the final race at Silverstone pans out.

 

Quali was late on Saturday and it was very wet. The fast 5 decided to create a quali queue early so we could get ahead of the main pack. I was first out and promptly had a ‘moment’ on the first corner of the out lap. The next 15mins was an absolute blast and at times felt more like a drifting competition. I already assumed that in the wet Dan is untouchable so 2nd would be the best I would manage. After a trip down the escape road and having to rejoin the track I still managed to catch up with the rest of the fast guys so I was pretty confident I would be in the top 3. Turns out I got 2nd by a safe margin. Putting me alongside Dan on the front row.

 

The sun was shining on race day and I got my customary rubbish start and was overly cautious into the first corner. Which dropped me down to 5th and trying desperately to get into 4th so I could charge after the front 3 before they got away. After a couple of laps I was clear of Paul and spend the next couple of laps in clear air chasing a podium setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Graham and I then had another insanely close scrap where eventually I got into 3rd only to miss a gear and ultimately lose 3rd on the last lap.

 

So again I wasn’t on the podium but no point moping about it. Since if I had started better and not missed a gear I would have had a far easier time of it.

Next and final round is at Silverstone 14th October.

#CaterhamFamily

Photos courtesy of Jon @ SnappyRacers.com

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.