2011 – RD3&4 Race Review
The new Snetterton 300 circuit hosted rounds 3&4 of the Caterham Bookatrack Superlight R300 championship sharing the BritistGT/F3 grid for the first time. Very kindly SRO let us have a patch of grass near thetford to setup on and the worst calendar in the history of man, but racing is racing right!? Qualifying was late Saturday noon and drivers were pretty keen to show the rest of the paddock what we could really do. Many achieved that and more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crash between cars in qualifying before and certainly not front running cars! Qualifying for me went pretty well, I found some clean air and quickly stuck it on P3, then went quicker to P2 but found myself deep in traffic like so many others. As the final 20 minutes came round I was attempting to give my team mate Simon Young a mighty tow , but ended up getting a cracking lap myself, as I came past the carnage at Agonstini and onto the back straight I was in the perfect tow from Jamie Orton (who later turned out to be a constant thorn in my side the whole weekend) the predictive lap timer was 0.75 up (I was 1/4 sec off pole) when Jamie got loose on some gravel and understeered clean off the track. I had a lift or wreck us both but then I looked up and thought I could just get a tow off Paul Fleury. All along the Bentley straight the predictive time increased, but it was still a good lap. Paul and myself both went in a little hot into the esses….Fleury a little too hot and took backing it into the corner to a new level. The lap now well and truely burnt I was happy still to be on the front row.
The races, well I’ll let the video tell the tale really. Race one I had an acceptable start and slotted in behind Jamie Orton who had bagged pole but I could see the fast starting Jamie Ellwood (jellwood) was going to make a move turn one whether I liked it or not and so I left him room. I knew if I wanted a good result I would have to come straight back past. He didn’t get a good drive out of melbourne and had to go defensive into palmer so I lined him up and past him before he had a chance to defend on the run down to agonstini. I was already looking up to see where Jamie was when I took a bit too much speed into Hamilton (definitely a tricky corner, along with palmer) and lost the back on cold tyres and was forced to defend into oggies. By the time that was all done Jamie had pulled 1.5 seconds on me, a gap I couldn’t close for the next 30 minutes. Often I find in racing you don’t go flat out or certainly never for the whole race, you are racing with other cars in close proximity. This race was flat out for the next 30 minutes, the gap never getting more than 2.5 seconds or below 1.5. The gap back to third stretched out to over 12 seconds.
Race 2 would prove to be a slightly different affair. I got another average start and after defending out of melbourne to my team mate Flick Haigh but I was still right with Jamie. By the end of the first lap we had broken the tow to third and decided for the best part not to slow each other down by racing too hard, so for the first 20 odd minutes the lead changed frequently. It was a bit like chess working out what you had to do be in front come the chequered flag and I thought I’d come up with a successful plan working out the rotation several laps in advance. As the last lap board came out I was still leading. Down the bentley straight I held the inside line and we barrelled under the bridge nearly side by side, Jamie on the outside had to back out. I was still leading through the bomb hole and corum when, in hindsight maybe I should of I chose not to defend murrays. This, may of been an error! I didn’t defend it for 3 reasons, one it requires a lot of cooperation from the other driver not to have contact, two, I really don’t see it an overtaking spot unless its the championship decider and lastly I was worried if I went too defensive Jamie could square me up and get a better drive for the line. Either way it came as an unpleasant shock to look in my mirrors to see a JPS stickered car diving down my inside. Having been wiped out last lap whilst leading at oulton very fresh in my mind this time I had at least a chance to get out of the way and ran wide. It was so nearly the perfect race….ruined at the last corner. Fair play to Jamie he got his second win and the lead in the championship but I’m only 5 points behind. My team mate Simon Young finally got his maiden R300 Podium with a great race with Mark Shaw.
Enjoy the video. The mighty Brands GP awaits the Bookatrack championship for rounds 5 & 6.