Saturday 28 September 2019

Round Seven - Brands Hatch Indy - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship

Round Seven - Brands Hatch Indy - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship
Round seven (races 13 and 14) of the 2019 Caterham 270R championship was held at Brands Hatch Circuit on the Indy configuration on the weekend of 28th and 29th of September 2019.

Although Brands Hatch is probably my most local circuit, I don't come here that often, but I also seem to go reasonably well here.

Most race weekends start with two days of testing on the Thursday and Friday before the weekend (split into 4x 25 minute sessions on each day).  A fellow driver / mate offered to give me his spare test slot for the Thursday, which meant I could have double testing time, so I took this opportunity with gratitude.

The conditions on Thursday can only be described as extreme wet, and as such I wasn't sure if to test or not (until it dried out a little), but as the forecast for the weekend race days looked mixed, I thought it best to get out there and get stuck in. 

Unfortunately I got un-sighted by some spinning cars in front of me which caused a yellow flag, I applied just a fraction too much brake to avoid the possible accident on Paddock Hill, the front tyres locked up and the car turned into a barrier targeted homing missile!

On-board crash footage below:-
If you watch the video in full, and turn up the volume, you can hear my post crash thoughts!  :-)
This was NOT how I wanted to start the weekend, and as the impact was pretty hefty I thought I'd chassis'd the car - luckily the guys from Matt Blyth Motorsport were on hand and worked on the car solidly from 9:30am until 1:30am the next morning to straighten the car as best they could, and incredibly get me out for testing on the Friday!  I really can't thank them enough for what they did.

Understandably testing on the Friday was a bit more 'cautious' than usual - however, the car felt better than before the crash (which seems bizarre), but the odd vibration I was chasing around at Donington was resolved!  The only real issue was the car did feel a touch better on the left than the right handed corners!

Race One:-
I managed to qualify in P3, which I was happy with.  All I needed to do in the race to secure the championship was to finish ahead of my fellow privateer Matt Shepard, and he qualified in P5, so I was in a good position.

I didn't get the best of starts and dropped to P4, and found that I really struggled down the straights to keep up with the cars around me.  I don't know if this was to do with the crash damage, or something else, but some of the other cars were blistering!

I kept my cool for the race, and stayed ahead (in the most part) of Matt Shepard, which meant that all I needed to do was to finish to secure the title.  Ollie Pratt got a run on me on the last lap into Graham Hill bend, and I let him have it, as didn't want to risk a collision.

Here is a link to the official Hayfisher Media Coverage:-

So that was it!  I crossed the finish line in P6, and became the 2019 Caterham 270R Champion!  Due to the way the regulations work, I decided not to race in the 2nd race of the weekend, as if I received a technical infringement penalty or contact penalty, there was a possibility I could've lost points.  AND there was a paddock party on the Saturday night, so wanted a couple of 'beverages'
Daniel French - 2019 Caterham 270R Champion!
Daniel French - 2019 Caterham 270R Champion!
Job done! 🏆🎉

Thursday 5 September 2019

Round Six - Donington Park GP - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship

Round Six - Donington Park GP Circuit - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship
Round six (races 11 and 12) of the 2019 Caterham 270R championship was held at Donington Park Circuit on the GP Layout (including the melbourne loop) on the weeknd of 17th and 18th August 2019.

There is usually always two days of testing available before a Caterham race weekend, and they get sold out pretty quick at the beginning of the season, so you have to be quick to ensure you get a space on one or both days.  Luckily I managed to get onto both days for all available race weekends this year.  

There's a good reason to try and get onto both test days if you can... The weather!  I arrived on Wednesday night to sideways rain, which made setting up the awning and so on a touch 'miserable'.  The thursday was a lovely day, but I had a bit of car niggles, so the testing was mostly fun, but the Friday was an absolute washout, with puddles everywhere and the car niggle turned into something that felt more serious - a vibration from the front which I spent the entire day trying to iron out.
Friday testing was extreme wet at Donington Park GP Circuit
Friday testing was extreme wet at Donington Park GP Circuit
Race One
As the tow effect is quite strong at Donington Park - worth approx 1.5 secs per lap (if not more), I didn't really get a clean lap in with a good tow, so qualified in sixth position.

I made a reasonable start, and within two laps was in the lead, and thought myself and James Murphy were going to make a break away.  Somehow this didn't happen, I ended up getting swallowed up by the pack, missed a gear coming out of the Melbourne Loop and dropped down to 10th!

After dropping down to 10th, I clawed my way back up through the field over the remaining six or seven laps to eventually finish 5th.

My Race Onboard Video:-

Here is the Hayfisher Media Offical Caterham Cars Ltd Coverage of the race:-

Race Two
Lined up on the grid in 5th place, got a bit of wheel spin on the start of the race.  Kept my cool, picked up a couple of places, then got hung out to dry at Goddards, and dropped a couple of places... Got back to P3, then on lap 13, whilst in P4, something happened with the three in front, and I had to take avoiding action - as otherwise would've had a big crash into the back of Greg Monks (23:22) in the video.  

Luckily I didn't get beached in the gravel (or harpooned by anyone behind me), but had dropped down to P8!  I clawed two places back and eventually managed to finish in P6.

Championship Points Table
Technically this weekend was a shocker for me, but nevertheless I still scored a decent haul of points, and increased my championship lead which is surprising!

Round Seven - The Finale - Brands Hatch Indy
The finale of the 2019 Caterham 270R championship is at Brands Hatch Circuit in Kent on the 28th / 29th September.  We will be racing on the Indy layout, which tight and technical track and I seem to go well at, so am looking forward to the upcoming finale!  All being well there is a chance I can secure the championship on the Saturday, which would be a nice achievement indeed.

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