Monday, 13 August 2018

Round Five - Castle Combe - 2018 Caterham Roadsport Championship

Round five of the 2018 Caterham Roadsport Championship was held at Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire.  

Having not been to the circuit since the initial Academy Test Day back in April 2017, I knew I had my work cut out in terms of getting up to speed for the upcoming race weekend.  Fortunately, I managed to get a slot on the Thursday and Friday test days, so set about getting up to speed.

The conditions on Thursday were good, warm, dry and un-interrupted which was perfect.  Friday was a different story!  The heavens opened, and the track was soaked - to the point where I had one run in the morning, then decided it wasn't worth risking an accident, and sat out the rest of the morning.  The track dried out a bit later on, but due to stoppages in the sessions I only managed probably twenty minutes dry running all day.
It was so wet at Castle Combe there were rivers appearing in the paddock!
It was so wet at Castle Combe there were rivers appearing in the paddock!
Race 9 - 2nd to Win
Onto the racing!  Qualifying was dry and went 'reasonably' well - I managed p2 which was a good position, but I still think I could've got Pole with a bit of a better positioning / tow, but nevertheless still a front row start.

Throughout Saturday afternoon the heavens opened, and there was a definite moment of uncertainty about which tyres to choose, but in the end it was monsoon conditions, so wet tyres it was.
2018 Caterham Roadsport Racing at Castle Combe in monsoon conditions
2018 Caterham Roadsport Racing at Castle Combe in monsoon conditions
I got a good start, got my head down and made a break away of a few seconds within just a handful of laps, but there was a big accident involving Daniel Halstead and Matt Shepard (both drivers are ok!) which red-flagged the race.

The race got restarted after the cars were removed from the circuit and tyre barriers were fixed.  This start wasn't quite as good, but I lead after the first corner (Quarry) and then went onto create a comfortable gap, managed my pace and won!

Onboard Race Video below:-

The result from race one of the weekend (race nine of the championship), Myself in P1, Graham Macdonald in P2 and James Murphy in P3.
l-r James Murphy P3, Me in P1!, and Graham Macdonald in P3
l-r James Murphy P3, Me in P1!, and Graham Macdonald in P3
Race 10 - Pole and Win
Snetterton aside, I've won every Saturday race, but seem to be making a habit of finishing in P3 on Sundays...  So it was about time to break that habit!

I woke up to a thoroughly soaked Castle Combe, and throughout most of the morning the weather was extreme wet... However, closing into midday (the race start time was 12:20) the rain seemed to stop and the circuit started to dry out.   I don't think anyone really knew which tyres to chose, so I went with my best guess, and hoped for the best!

Sitting on the grid, the tarmac looked totally dry, which left me wondering if I'd made the right tyre choice or not, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking that!  

A little bit behind schedule; the race got underway, and I got a good start... I wanted to make a break away, as I really thought I had the wrong tyres on, so put my head down and tried to break away.  Unfortunately this didn't happen and Graham Macdonald got a great tow, and passed me on lap three.  Graham held the lead for a lap and a half, where I made a move for the lead into tower corner, which I had to defend immediately into Bobbies chicane, but Graham locked up and carried straight on which was enough to give me my chance to break away.
Leading the pack into Quarry corner on lap one of the 2018 Caterham Roadsport Race at Castle Combe circuit
Leading the pack into Quarry corner on lap one of the 2018 Caterham Roadsport Race at Castle Combe circuit
Onboard Race Video below:-

Eventually I managed to win by nearly seven seconds, and was only five one-hundredths of a second off the fastest lap of the race, which, considering I didn't have a tow (slipstream) at all on my fastest lap, I was definitely satisfied with my pace. 

The podium was ME! in P1 yay!  Tom Allen in P2 and Graham Macdonald in P3 - well done guys!
l-r Graham Macdonald P3, Me (again!) P1, Tom Allen P2
l-r Graham Macdonald P3, Me (again!) P1, Tom Allen P2
So I'd done exactly what I'd set out to this weekend - a maximum 60 points (aside from 2 fastest lap points), and I've also taken the championship lead too which is definitely a bonus!
One thumb-up per win this weekend - my first 'double win' sure was a special feeling
One thumb-up per win this weekend - my first 'double win' sure was a special feeling
Naturally, I left Castle Combe feeling thoroughly chuffed with my first double win of the season.

There's still 124 points up for grabs over the next four races, so all to play for!  The championship battle is definitely heating up, and I'm relishing the opportunity to race it out wheel to wheel.

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