Saturday 22 April 2017

Aintree Sprint - 1st Place!

So today was the first day of the 2017 Caterham Academy Championship season...

...The first event was at Aintree Sprint circuit, which for us was a fair drive on a Friday evening... We camped out overnight, and after an interrupted nights sleep (too excited!) We got ready for the event, by initial sign on, helmet checks, scrutineering, a track walk and then it was onto our practice runs.

The sprint circuit is part of the old F1 circuit, and is now not much more than three corners and four straights...  Here's a diagram of the circuit:-
Aintree Sprint Circuit
Aintree Sprint Circuit
How hard can it be?  Well, quite tough actually - sprinting isn't really my thing, but there's a lot of pressure as you don't get many runs...  You've just got to go out there and be 'on it' straight away...  I definitely prefer circuit driving, and getting into a decent rhythm and then chipping away at corners and so on...  Anyway, here's my best run:-

To be completely frank, I didn't get a good run in all day... The 1st practice run was 'ok', 2nd practice run I had a huge lock-up at the first corner, then four timed runs all of which I wasn't happy with, but luckily my time was good enough for the win!

Not wanting to knock any of the competitors, but I definitely could've gone quicker had I strung all three corners together in one lap!  Nevertheless, my friend Andy Morgan in the white group (we both entered the Academy together, but requested to be in different groups) set the new category lap record time of 52.91 after withstanding some serious pressure from Dan Halstead - so nice one sun!
I picked up 1st place at Aintree Sprint, along with Graham Macdonald (Caterham CEO) and James Murphy
I picked up 1st place at Aintree Sprint, along with Graham Macdonald (Caterham CEO) and James Murphy
My hopes for this season were to have one podium and to finish in the top ten...  I'm utterly thrilled to bits at winning the first event, but having achieved a podium already, is it wrong I want more?!?  I guess that's racing in one sentence - never happy!

Next weekend I'm off to Abbeville (France) for a track day weekend, and then the next Academy event is at Curborough Sprint course on Saturday 20th May.  Looking forward to it already ☺

Saturday 1 April 2017

Castle Combe Test Day

So yesterday was the first 'on track' official Caterham Academy event of 2017.   

Without wanting to go into too much of the 'boring' details, we arrived the day before, camped out overnight, signed on at 8am, had the briefing around 8:45 and were split into four groups with each group getting a fifteen minute on track session.

We all had to have our decals fitted, along with our sprint race numbers (which are different to our race numbers) and had to line up in sprint number order before heading out onto the track.  I was in the pink group, with our first session at 9:15
Lining up in sprint number order - waiting for lights to go green
Lining up in sprint number order - waiting for lights to go green
Just before 9:15 the silver group came in, the track was clear and the pink group were out... Time to get on track and start pushing...  Jon from is the official photographer for the season, and he managed to get this pic whilst I was on three wheels!
On Three Wheels at Castle Combe Test Day
On Three Wheels at Castle Combe Test Day
Here's an onboard video of one of my fast(er) laps...  However, I was a little 'cheeky' with the track limits at Bobbies corner...

There was another lap where I wasn't as cheeky with the track limits, and was up on the above time, but got held up at camp corner and had to lift, so lost the overall lap time.

It was all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day for a number of reasons:-

  • Great to see (and meet some of) the other competitors 
  • Superb to get on track with all Academy cars and drivers
  • Great weather
  • Hospitality and organisation great too
I've been pushing it for some time in terms of my 'Academy commitments' so will hit the gym for a few weeks and give the car a spanner check etc etc.  

Next up, is will be a track day at Snetterton on Good Friday - the 14th April - hope to see some of you there ☺