Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Round One - Snetterton 300 - Caterham Roadsport 2018 Championship

I think we all know it's been a very loooonnnggg winter!  Lots of cold, wet testing over the off season with a crash too!  Nevertheless, last weekend was the start of the 2018 Caterham Motorsport championships at Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk.

I arrived at the circuit on Wednesday evening, got setup and ready for two test days on Thursday and Friday before the race weekend.  Testing was predominantly wet, so tyre wear was minimal (which wasn't ideal).

Qualifying went reasonably well, I qualified fourth on the grid a couple of tenths off the pace, (2nd row was the lowest I wanted), but I messed up a decent lap in qualifying, so knew I had the pace to make up a few places in the race.

Race One - 5th Place:-
The first race of the season, started well, swapped places for the lead with James Murphy for the first two thirds of the race, then dropped back after letting Matt Sheppard past down the Bentley straight.  I tried to stay composed and make a last lap challenge for the podium, only to be thwarted by a gearbox issue (at 20:00mins in the video) which initially surfaced on the second day of testing.  I eventually finished fifth and my vbox video was over-exposed, so this footage is the hayfisher media gopro - which has been set at an awesome camera angle, so I will definitely be using my Gopro's set at this angle for future video's.

Race Two - 2nd Place:-
The grid positions for race two of the weekend are decided by your finishing position in race one, which  meant I started on row three in fifth.  Determined to make up some places and get back into the mix, I got another good start, battled for the lead, dropped back, picked the places back up, but, and on the final lap from second position I had more gearbox problems - which no doubt cost me a shot at the win.

James won both races, and drove impeccably all weekend - top work!
James Murphy drove impeccably all weekend.
James Murphy drove impeccably all weekend.
With James winning both races, and myself and Matt picking up 2nd and 3rd places in the second race, that leaves me fourth in the championship hunt, seven points adrift...
2nd place was the best I could achieve this weekend
2nd place was the best I could achieve this weekend
There was a little damage to my car after a few love taps in race two - all in a days action when racing as closely as we did - so to be expected.  The nearside wing is a little broken and can be repaired, but the off-side wing, rear light and fog light all need replacing before Knockhill
Broken near and offisde wings, fog light and wing light cluster
Broken near and offisde wings, fog light and wing light cluster
As I've mentioned earlier in this post, I've been a little unfortunate with gearbox issues in both races - when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear, towards the end of the races the gear lever is engaged in third, but there is no engagement of the gear and I'm left hitting the limiter with a box of neutrals. 
Video below of three occurrences:-

DPR have taken the car back with them from Snetterton to investigate, and remedy.

Round two of the season is at Knockhill - Scotland, and is being run anti-clockwise which should make things very interesting indeed!  Looking forward to it already!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

2018 Roadsport Update, Sponsorship Decals and Calendar

With the 2018 season nearly here, the (VERY) long winter is nearly over, with plenty of testing miles under my lap strap.

A couple of weeks ago (Saturday 10th March) was the Caterham official pre-season test day at Donington Park on the National Circuit layout.  The day started off wet, which dried out and then got wet again!  It was a great day, not only just the on track fun, but also catching up with last years Academy drivers some of which I hadn't seen since Silverstone last year.
Roadsport fun at Donington Park National Circuit
Roadsport fun at Donington Park National Circuit
2018 Sponsorship Decals
At the pre-season test day, we were supplied with our Sponsorship decals for the upcoming championship.

As there was for the 2017 academy decals, there is a schematic and positioning guide for where the decals need to be placed.
2018 Caterham Roadsport Decal Schematic
2018 Caterham Roadsport Decal Schematic
And here's the detailed positioning guide with measurements!

Detailed 2018 Caterham roadsport championship sponsor decal positioning guide with measurements too
Detailed 2018 Caterham roadsport championship sponsor decal positioning guide with measurements too
Some time later... 
About seven hours in fact!  Decal removal is not as straight forward as it may first appear!  With a little bit of heat the old decals came off reasonably easily, it's just the left over adhesive that took the majority of the time to remove.  I found Autoglym intensive tar remover worked the best at dissolving the residue.

The main mandatory decal changes for this year are:-
  • Title Sponsor is now Draper Tools
  • My race number is 77 (the year I was born - 1977)
  • Roadsport sticker on nose cone
  • Revised side decals with new sponsors
  • Avon decals on front and rear of rear wings
  • VBOX decals on rear of both front and rear wings
  • Snappy Racers logo's on side of car and on rear (non mandatory)

Side picture of my 2018 Caterham Roadsport ready car
Side picture of my 2018 Caterham Roadsport ready car

Slight aerial picture of my 2018 Caterham Roadsport challenger
Slight aerial picture of my 2018 Caterham Roadsport challenger
And this is hopefully what my competition will be looking at this year - my rear! ☺ The rear of the car is 'free' of a sponsors logo, so what seemed to go really well with the stripes is the Snappy Racers logo, so I put that there.
VBOX, Avon and Snappy Racers decals on the rear of my 2018 Caterham Roadsport championship challenger
VBOX, Avon and Snappy Racers decals on the rear of my 2018 Caterham Roadsport championship challenger
I'm fitter, more motivated than ever and hope to have another successful campaign this year.  I will take each race one at a time, and will be trying my best for that top step of the podium at every opportunity ☺

The race dates are as follows:- 
Snetterton - 14th and 15th April
Knockhill (running backwards!) - 13th and 14th May
Brands Hatch Indy - 2nd and 3rd June
Zandvoort - 30th June and 1st July
Castle Combe - 11th and 12th August
Thruxton - 1st and 2nd September
Silverstone - 22nd and 23rd September

A copy of the 2018 Calendar is below:-
2018 Caterham Roadsport Championship event calendar
2018 Caterham Roadsport Championship event calendar
Caterham Challenge Cup
There is also an end of season special event which is the 'Caterham Challenge Cup' at LAGUNA SECA! on 1st and 2nd December, which I've put my name down for, so am hoping there are enough entrants for the event to go ahead.

If you are coming to watch any of the Caterham racing this year, please feel free to come and say hello.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

BRSCC 2017 Championship Awards

Last night was the 2017 BRSCC Championship Awards Dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my car on the front cover of the event programme.
My 2017 Caterham Academy Car on the front cover of the BRSCC Awards Dinner Programme
My 2017 Caterham Academy Car on the front cover of the BRSCC Awards Dinner Programme
As the BRSCC covers many different championships, there was a lot of awards to give away!  About half way through the evening, it was my turn and Peter Daly the chairman of the BRSCC presented me with my plaque.
The Commemorative plaque I received for becoming the 2017 Caterham Academy (green group) champion.
The Commemorative plaque I received for becoming the 2017 Caterham Academy (green group) champion.
Right, that's enough reminiscing about the past, and time to crack on with plenty of winter testing....

Friday, 2 February 2018

41st Birthday Today - Bespoke Caterham Cake

Unfortunately! It's my 41st Birthday today... Fortunately, one of the guys at my work knows someone who makes bespoke cakes (Karen James), and all the guys at work chipped in and got her to make me this amazing Caterham Birthday Cake as a surprise! 

I'm blown away with the detail and accuracy she achieved with just a few pictures, and clearly a lot of talent!  She can make pretty much anything you like, and if you want your own bespoke Caterham cake or something else you can contact her on her mobile 07884 380495 or by emailing her at karenjames822@gmail.com for a quote.
41 today, and delighted with my very own bespoke Caterham Roadsport Birthday Cake
41 today, and delighted with my very own bespoke Caterham Roadsport Birthday Cake
Here's some close up pics.  Front view:-
Extremely realistic cake version of my 2017 Caterham Academy Car
Extremely realistic cake version of my 2017 Caterham Academy Car
Side View:-
Side view of my Caterham Birthday Cake
Side view of my Caterham Birthday Cake
Rear View:-
Rear View of my Caterham Birthday Cake
Rear View of my Caterham Birthday Cake
I'm not too sure what to do with it, as there's no way I could damage such a masterpiece by cutting it!  I think it'll have to live in my garage ☺

2018 Roadsport Entry
As added birthday bonus, it turns out that our driver profiles have been updated today on the Caterham website to confirm our status as '2018 roadsport drivers' with all of the participants of this years season.  link here:- http://uk.caterhamcars.com/motorsport/roadsport/drivers

This also means that there are now 56 new names on the Caterham Academy drivers profiles, all of which will be battling out for the title of 2018 Caterham Academy Champion (green and white group).  Having been through the amazing experience, I wish all of this years competitors the best of luck and will look forward to meeting the new faces and personalities in the paddock this year.

2018 Roadsport Driver Number 77
Also confirmed is my new driver number of 77 - as I've swapped from 30 (from my Academy season) to 77.  Why?  Well I was born in 1977 (hence being 41 today!), and also for Caterham Seven (but 7 isn't allowed, so the next best was 77), and Seven is considered a lucky number, so I hope to have double helpings of luck this year ☺

Monday, 22 January 2018

First Track Day of 2018 in my Roadsport Spec Car

My first outing of 2018 in my Roadsport spec car was at Snetterton 300 circuit, last weekend (20th Jan) as this is where our first race of the season is (weekend of 13th / 14th April).

The weather forecast was good all week, and then it started to show signs of a bit of drizzle.  Well, on the day the drizzle turned into extreme wet conditions and I think the day after got cancelled due to ice too, so I was lucky to at least get some running, albeit in miserable conditions.
Extreme Wet Conditions at Snetterton 300 circuit in my 2018 Caterham Roadsport
Extreme Wet Conditions at Snetterton 300 circuit in my 2018 Caterham Roadsport
Talking of luck, mine ran out... The very last lap of the day, and the 2nd to last corner I went a bit wide, hit a puddle, then the grass, then the tyre barrier!

I got the car home, assessed the damage, and decided that rather than fix it myself I'd to take it to DPR Motorsport to get them to fix it.  
My 2018 Caterham Roadsport car looking a bit sorry for itself
My 2018 Caterham Roadsport car looking a bit sorry for itself
Dave and the boys at DPR will get it fixed this week, and then it'll be back out next weekend!  I just hope it'll be dry this time ☺

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017 Academy to 2018 Roadsport Upgrade

So with the 2017 season (and year) well and truly over, it's time to crack on with my plans for 2018 - which is to challenge for the title of the 2018 Caterham Roadsport Championship.

The first thing to do was to upgrade the car, I could've done this myself, but decided to get DPR Motorsport to do the upgrades on my behalf.

The upgrades are as follows in order of (in my opinion):-
1. Tyres
I think this must be the most eagerly anticipated upgrade from by every Caterham Academy driver... Some decent tyres!  The Academy Avon CR322's are replaced with AVON ZZS tyres, and the due to the decreased height of the sidewalls the wing-stays are lowered too. 
Tyres upgraded to AVON ZZS
Tyres upgraded to AVON ZZS
2. Brake Master Cylinder
The 2nd most 'wanted' upgrade as an Academy driver is a better brake master cylinder.  Made by AP Racing, the upgraded master cylinder means less air gets into the system, meaning less time bleeding brakes!
The upgraded A.P. Racing brake master cylinder
The upgraded A.P. Racing brake master cylinder
3. Brake Pads and Bias Valve
The brake pad material is 'free' in terms of the Roadsport regulations, so you can fit whatever spec front and rear compounds you like.  There is also an option to fit a brake bias valve too to adjust the brake balance front / rear.
Newly fitted A.P. Racing Brake Bias Valve
Newly fitted A.P. Racing Brake Bias Valve
4. Rear Anti-Roll Bar
In Roadsport spec you are also allowed to use a rear anti-roll bar too!
Rear anti roll bar fitted to my 2018 Caterham Roadsport car
Rear anti roll bar fitted to my 2018 Caterham Roadsport car
5. Setup CheckAfter fitting a number of geometry adjusting parts, it's also worth getting the alignment checked so this was done, and the car was delivered back to me.
2018 Caterham Roadsport having the setup checked
2018 Caterham Roadsport having the setup checked
A bit of fun:-
A few track day pics of the Roadsport spec car below, instantly you can see it looks much more aggressive and a lot lower / stiffer too.  First driving impressions are increased grip, stability and cornering speed and I LOVE it!  It's like a different car, and can be driven with inch precision accuracy which really helps with getting consistent clean laps in and that all important lap time down!
me (Daniel French) driving my 2018 Caterham Roadsport at Donington Park
me (Daniel French) driving my 2018 Caterham Roadsport at Donington Park
me (Daniel French) driving my 2018 Caterham Roadsport at Brands Hatch
me (Daniel French) driving my 2018 Caterham Roadsport at Brands Hatch
It seems as though I've picked up some sort of leak in my radiator, so will fit a new one over the next few days and then start back with the testing middle of Jan.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

2017 Caterham Motorsport Awards

This evening was the 2017 Caterham Motorsport Awards where all the podium finishers (of every championship) received their season trophies.

It was a great venue, the food was fantastic and there were hundreds of drivers all having a good time.  No doubt there were plenty of sore heads in the morning!

Here's a video Charlotte (my girlfriend) took of me collecting the winners trophy, and of course I had to give her a mention when I was on the top step ☺
 

Joining me on the podium was James Murphy (who finished p2) and Toby Clowes (who finished p3).

I'm already looking forward to xmas, then getting back onto the testing scene early next year, with the race season kicking off at Snetteron 300 on 14th April 2018.