Saturday 20 July 2019

Round Five - Spa-Francorchamps - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship

Round Five - Spa Francorchamps - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship
Round five (races nine and ten) of the 2019 Caterham 270R Championship was held at Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium on the weekend of 20th and 21st July.

TestingIt's a fair journey for me to get to Spa, and I'm sure it's equally long for others (if not further), but I wanted to get the maximum track time possible, and found there was a track evening held on the Wednesday night.  I managed to get onto the that session which was fun and Thursday was a rest day.

Friday was a 'normal' test day, which also was great fun, but I just couldn't quite get the car into some corners, and thus my ultimate lap time was never really higher than P5.  
Daniel French - Caterham 270R - Eau Rouge Corner - Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Daniel French - Caterham 270R - Eau Rouge Corner - Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Race One:-
I qualified sixth on the gird, which was my 2nd lowest qualifying position of this year, and also of my Caterham Race 'Career'.

The forecasted conditions for the race were mixed / dry, so I thought it best to be a little cautious and go with a middle tyre in case it rained, but was on a full dry suspension setup (as I think everyone else was).
Tyre choice was critical for the first race
Tyre choice was critical for the first race
The heavens opened whilst gridding up, and we had two laps under safety car conditions, then the race started under green flags - where the video starts.  I was a fair bit behind the leaders when the green flag started the race, as I think there was some confusion of others in front of me thinking it would be a standing start, but nevertheless I pushed on and made up four places.

The weather got worse, minute by minute, until nearly every corner was like a river and the car was aquaplaning everywhere.  A few people went off, and the race was eventually red-flagged with myself in 2nd place (after having an off myself at 13:31).

Due to the red flag count back rule, the race was counted back to lap 4 (rather than 5 for some reason) which meant I eventually finished 4th, but Lewis Thompson was disqualified for crashing (after I passed him, but prior to the red flag) and I inherited third.

Race Two:-
Starting from third, I got a good start and was into 2nd place by La Source corner, made an attempt to lead the race and then a 30 minute battle ensued with no less than 49 position changes!  I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed the racing!

I made a challenge on the last lap into the bus stop, but eventually finished in fourth position.  My on-board video is below:-

Live-Streamed Video:-The race was the first Caterham Race to be live-streamed to the internet, and I think the guys at Hayfisher Media done a great job, covering both the Roadsport and 270R races in real time.  The video is now available to view on YouTube here:-

Weekend Reflection
Having not put a foot on the podium this weekend, it was a pretty long drive home.  I had a chance to reflect on the weekend, and was still pleased with the result, how I drove, and most of all having been part of a race weekend at Spa!  A lifelong dream!

Cracked Wishbone Mount
I wasn't overly happy with the handling of the car, especially into Pouhon corner - the car was 'sketchy' into there to say the least...  I noticed the front wishbone mount was badly cracked, so had to get this replaced, and this put my mind to rest as to why the car felt so unsettled at Pouhon (very fast downhill left hander).  This just goes to emphasise how important it is to do your spanner checks!
Cracked Upper Wishbone Mount
Cracked Upper Wishbone Mount
Championship Points Table
Although I didn't put a foot on the podium, I managed to score the 2nd highest amount of points this weekend, and that was only one point less than Matt Sheppard, so I'm happy with how the weekend unfolded for the championship.  I'm now in the lead on the points table with 263 points, which is 3 ahead of previous championship leader Justin heap.  There's still another four races of the season, so it's all to play for!

Round Six - Donington Park
The next race is at Donington Park this coming weekend.  I'm looking forward to this as it's a track I really enjoy racing there, especially on the GP layout.

Feel free to come and say Hi if you're coming along to watch.

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