DPR Motorsport team drivers and customers were at Silverstone National this weekend for the inaugural Caterham Enduro Relay Race
The new format Enduro race provides a great opportunity for the drivers and team to get out on track ahead of the official start to the season in just 3 weeks time.
A new start of season format
A very blustery Silverstone National circuit was the location for the first competitive Caterham event of the 2019 season. The Caterham Enduro 4 hour race replaced the traditional pre-season test day. The format saw teams of up to 3 cars drivers take on a relay race. Super’ teams were made up of one 310R, one 270R and one Roadsport car and all the drivers had been graded to ensure that every team had a shot at winning. A unique prospect in motorsport and an interesting dynamic, with teams having to be formed from across the various Caterham Championships. In addition to the ‘Super’ teams, there were also some dedicated 420R race teams fighting it out for their own trophy. DPR Motorsport drivers, both fully supported and workshop customers, were out in force at the event making up a total of six ‘Super’ teams and one 420R “duo” team.
Two classes - Two DPR poles
Qualifying went well, with Ian ‘Sparky’ Sparshott putting the 420R on pole position with a committed lap in tricky conditions. Class pole was also taken by Gordon Sawyer in his 310R. For many drivers, the weekend was their first outing in their newly upgraded cars and the first time out on the Silverstone National circuit so there was lots to learn. Another first for many of the drivers was the prospect of a rolling start. The regulations stipulated that the 310R cars should line up for the start and it was a brilliant site to see 21 cars head over the line for the first time.
As you might expect from a gaggle of Caterhams, the fact the race was to be won over 4 hours did nothing to dampen the spirits and the racing was as fierce and close as ever. At the one hour mark, the 420R team of Ian Sparshott and Chris Bates and the Super team of Gordon Sawyer (310R)/Jim Irlam (270R)/James Crocker(Roadsport) were still leading the pack. Dan Quintero (310R)/Chris Moore(270R)/Ian Leslie(Roadsport) had put in some great laps to bring them up from 19th on the grid to run 2nd in class, just 2 seconds behind the leading team.
Penalties decide the day
At the halfway point, there were a flurry of penalties for teams, including track limits and driver takeover infringements. This dropped the lead DPR teams to 4th, 5th and 6th in class. The team of Cary Curtis (310R)/James Murphy (270R)/Rick Hewland (Roadsport) were running firmly in the mid field just ahead of the Chris Welch(310R)/ Daniel Halstead(270R)/Paul Farrell(Roadsport) team. The Andy Perry (310R)/Ian Knight (270R)/Andy Lees(Roadsport) were floundering a touch at the mid point down in 15th. A good fight back later in the race was eventually scuppered by a lap penalty for exceeding the 30 minute maximum driver stint time.
As the afternoon progressed, the weather finally closed in for a traditional Silverstone soaking. Chris Moore showing some brilliant wet weather ability in his 270R to run fastest of all the cars on circuit, including the 420Rs. At the chequered flag, the Sparshott/Bates 420R team ended in 2nd place in class, a slightly disappointing lap down on the winning team. The DPR Super teams challenge also faded in the mid to late part of the race. Some consistent running by Christie / Fielder / Appleton saw them shoot up the rankings from a 12th place start to finish just off the podium in 4th place. Curtis / Murphy / Lees finished firmly mid pack, also making up places on their starting position and one place ahead of the Sawyer / Irlam / Crocker team, who never fully recovered from the penalties received through the course of the race.
Whilst the results weren’t as forthcoming this time out, the team and drivers all gathered valuable data and insight ahead of the imminent return to Silverstone in 3 weeks when the long winter wait for the start of a new season is finally over and the real championship battles can commence.