Caterham SuperGrads - 31 July 2005

A familiar ending to a great race...


Donington Circuit - image courtesy of BMRC
Click on image for a 90MB .wmv video of the race
(Broadband only - not recommended for modem users!)

Preamble

So a quick look back at the season, as I've been dreadful at keeping my race reports up-to-date this year.

Thruxton:
New circuit for me: I was pretty dreadful, but did manage to get the Best Improver trophy for not being as rubbish in the race as I was in qualifying.

Cadwell Park:
Qualified well in 8th place, but then it poured with rain shortly before our race. A boat would have been more useful than a car. Nevertheless, put in a decent performance, finishing 10th. Got up to fourth at one point but enthusiasm got the better of me and I went grass-tracking.

Snetterton:
Qualified 9th. In race one, got up to 6th place before ending up on the grass at the Esses, finally finishing 12th. In race two, had a big (and very expensive) shunt when Ben Sturges span in front of me.

Silverstone:
Missed it. No chance of getting the car fixed from Snetterton in time.

Testing

Test day at Donington sir? Of course! It's on a Friday, and it'll cost you 395. Ouch. Fortunately there was a track day run by the circuit on the Saturday (ie the day before our race) and it cost 135. Much better. Gail and Matt Gillbanks foolishly volunteered to organise, and we took two out of the three sessions exclusively for Caterhams. So plenty of practice, and I thought I might do well.

Qualifying

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Ben Sturges follows me through the chicane
Bit rubbish really. I felt quick, but it just wasn't showing up in the lap times. Best I managed was 1:24.567 for 15th place. Rory Young, Jamie Ellwood and Andrew Ennis took the top three slots, with low-to-mid 1:23's. Fellow ex-Academists James Sykes and Charles Elliott did much better, and got 8th and 10th respectively. My only consolation was that I (just) beat Keith Chanter, who had a clever qualifying plan which clearly, err, wasn't.


Race

A fairly poor start though I pull up a couple of places, then I get boxed in at Redgate. There's cars everywhere, and no space to claim as my own. I correct my line to avoid hitting someone, and the sudden steering input causes a slide. By the time I've recovered I'm sitting in 13th behind Simon Fletcher and Andy Molsom. Someone soon disappear off stage right in Redgate, then at the chicane on the next lap, several people try to fit into a gap made for one. Two of them go over the grass, letting me get up to 10th behind Charles Elliott, Toby Briant and Andy Molsom. Andy nips up the inside of Toby into Redgate.

I follow Toby all the way to the straight and try to slipstream him. It works, but he's determined, and I back off rather than risking an impact. Toby's a little too determined perhaps - he messes up the chicane completely, hitting the "thwacking posts" on both sides and losing a rear wing in the process.

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Toby loses his wing - 2MB Windows Media Video

Another lap, and Andy locks up going into Coppice, running wide and letting Toby and myself through. So it's Charles, Toby and me. I slipstream Toby again on the straight, but this time he's not nearly as brave, and brakes well early, letting me through. I'm now in 8th place behind Charles. Charles has empty space in front of him with no-one to give him a physical or pychological draught, so I'm all over him. I take him at the Chicane, but don't hold enough speed on the exit and he's able to get back at me into Redgate. The next lap I try again, and the same thing happens. Except suddenly in one of those "where the f*** did they come from?" moments, James Sykes and Charlie Hunt come past as well, one on each side. We're pretty much four abreast into Redgate, but Charles and James on the outside line lose out, Charlie Hunt taking the lead with me behind.

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Four into Redgate don't go - 1.4MB Windows Media Video

I follow Charlie for a couple of laps, then nip past when he runs wide out of the chicane. I'm up to seventh place now, not bad from a qualifying position of 15th. Then a lap later, Charlie slipstreams me and sneaks through at the chicane. Worse, Charles Elliott gains on me as well, and is able to take the outside line into Redgate. This is where things start to go wrong. With Charles on the outside, I'm forced to compromise my line, but don't go in slow enough to compensate. I run wide and onto the grass on the exit, letting Charles and Andy Molsom past. Not good, but it get worse...

I don't know if it was dirty tyres, or just frustration, but two corners later I'm off again at the Old Hairpin. This time I'm very lucky not to collect James Sykes, and about six cars go past. My chances of a decent position are in tatters. But who's this, last to come past me? It's good old Toby "One-Wing" Bryant. Clearly he's had some problems as well.

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Off track excursions - 2.8MB Windows Media Video

I have a great scrap with Toby for the next few laps, passing and re-passing each other, until we catch up with another group. Then, unforgivably, I go off for a third time with a botched overtake into Coppice.

Which wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't let Adam Warren through, and if he hadn't then spun in the middle of the chicane right in front of me...


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The crash - 2.8MB Windows Media Video

Conclusion

The damage isn't too bad - at least compared to last time. Looks like I avoid a trip to Arch (the chassis builders) this time. But I'm out of cash - so I'm going to have to miss the next double-header at Rockingham to save some money for the rebuild.

That also ensures the car will be in one piece for Spa, a meeting I really don't want to miss!



Photo credits to come once I've figured out who gave me which. Sorry, guys, I'm just too disorganised!