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

Caterham Academy Aintree Sprint – 4th place

Got a 4th place at Aintree!

After a couple of months of messing around on track days today it got serious. The Caterham Academy season kicked off at a sunny Aintree sprint course.

The big different with sprints to circuits is you don’t get anywhere near the practise time. This was a big change for me as I’m used to spending a day or days at a track getting faster and faster. 
With the sprint there are 2 practise runs. Followed by 4 timed runs where the fastest timed run counts.

After the first timed run I was placed 2nd. At which point I started to take the whole thing a lot more seriously and trying to work out who could push me down the order in the later runs. Looking at the times there were at least 5 or 6 people who could have ended up on the podium. It all came down to who made the least mistakes in the later runs. Each run was a little bit faster than the last. Unfortunately for me both Graham and James managed to go a few hundredths of a second fast than me and I got bumped down to 4th.

Still 4th out of 27 drivers in the Green Group is a great first result as that is well into the top 10 target I set myself. However looking back at the video I fluffed the start and had a few mistakes on all the corners. So losing out to 3rd by 0.01 secs is such a small margin!

But credit where credit is due Dan, Graham & James were all faster when it matters and Andy had a blinder in the White Group setting a new lap record. So awesome job guys, and everyone else that took part.

Can’t wait to the next event at Curborough on Saturday 20th May.

Castle Combe test day

The 2017 Caterham Academy had its first official test day at Castle Combe on Friday. This was the first time all competitors had the chance to get on track together.

Test days run slightly differently to track days. With a track day there are all sort of rules around only overtaking on the left and in safe places. While test days are race cars only and overtaking is wherever you fancy going for it.
Being able to overtake on both side and in braking zones was a revelation. My tendency to over brake and late turned out to be pretty useful for diving down the inside off line and getting past people. Currently there is a big difference between the speed of the various drivers but i’m sure that will get closer as the season progresses.