Good results for DPR team drivers at Silverstone National for the first of the seven rounds of the official Caterham Motorsport season.
With only four corners to contend with, Silverstone National is a fast and wide track with plenty of long straights. This format produced challenging but exciting racing for all of the DPR team drivers with some great performances producing podiums across all grids. Next up is Croft on 4th / 5th May.
Silverstone - A solid season opener
Some of the drivers had been at Silverstone for the team Enduro a few weeks earlier, however, for others it was the first opportunity to brush off the competitive cobwebs and the first time all of this years competitors would be on track together. With 13 team supported cars, the DPR Motorsport garage was a buzz of activity from the Friday official testing and all through the weekend. Testing went largely to plan, with the exception of Alex Jordan who sustained accident damage which required overnight repairs. However, when qualification started, Alex was out on track with his fellow racers.
A new challenge - the 420R Super Pole
New for 2019 in the 420R Championship is the Super Pole qualifying format. A single shot shootout for the top 10 drivers to decide the final grid positions. With Championship points available for the top 3 in the shootout, this new format could prove crucial in the final Championship standings this year. The new format gave the qualification session extra interest well received by the drivers and the spectators.
420R - Podium for Caterham “returnee” Aaron Head
Alex Jordan and Chris Bates didn’t make the cut off to compete the Super Pole this time out and started race 1 from 17th and 13th respectively. However, Will Smith and Aaron Head did make it through to the top 10 shootout and would start 4th and 3rd. In race one, Chris Bates had a spin on the first lap and, stuck in empty space on track, made the call to pull into the pits and save his tyres for race 2. Alex Jordan circulated through the majority of the race but also pulled into the pits before the flag. Both would have work to do the following day. Will and Aaron were firmly planted at the front of a 10 car battle through the whole of race one. Aaron managed to cross the line in 3rd, whilst Will was disappointed to take 4th, just outside of the podium.
In race two, Alex and Chris were part of a race long battle behind the lead group. Places changed every corner and by the time the 30 minutes was up, Alex claimed 20th place and Chris 18th. Will and Aaron were both once again ensconced in the lead battle, this time consisting of 11 cars. The podium remained elusive for Will after getting squeezed onto the grass at a crucial time. 8th was a result that on another day would have been better rewarded. Aaron finished 5th this time out.
270R - The race “spectacular” of the weekend- Podiums for James Murphy & Daniel Halstead
The 270R drivers put on some, frankly, spectacular races over the weekend. The Silverstone circuits long straights compressing the field into one group of 22 cars for lap after lap. Dan Halstead was pushing for the lead consistently through the first half of race one, however he slid wide and through the gravel and that put paid to his podium chances. He ended the race in 14th. Nilesh Parmar moved forward to the lead group but didn’t quite manage to hold on and his race ended in 10th. Chris Moore crossed the line in 9th but was subsequently removed from the results following a yellow flag infringement during the race. That left James Murphy to pick up a podium for himself and the team, finishing in 3rd place and firmly in contention for the win throughout.
Race two saw the same frantic action for lap after lap. Unfortunately, James Murphy was tapped into a spin at mid race distance and dropped to 27th place. With Chris Moore starting from the back of the grid as well, both had their work cut out. Nilesh Parmar made some excellent progress through the race to patiently move forward place by place. He lead over the line twice and was slightly unlucky to end the race in 7th place. Dan Halstead continued his progress through the field from the Race 1 spin and planted himself back in the lead group. After a last lap incident through Brooklands involving a number of front running drivers, Dan crossed the line in 2nd place. A superb podium result on his debut 270R weekend. Chris Moore made it to the lead group on his fight from the back of the grid but a late issue in the race dropped him back to 17th place. However, given that 17th place was only 5 seconds behind the leader, you can see how tightly bunched the whole field were. James Murphy made a spectacular recovery from 27th all the way to 6th place, just 1.3 seconds from the win. That could prove a very important recovery drive by the time the season is up.
310R - Two Sawyer “1st’s” signal how he means to go on
The 310R drivers had a pretty hard act to follow from the 270’s but, with a quality grid of proven talent, they were up to the task. Andy Perry lead the DPR charge in qualifying, taking 2nd place, just 5 hundredths off of pole. Gordon Sawyer took 6th place, even though his qualification session ended up in the barrier after scary contact with another driver lifting off on a straight. Doug Christie took 16th, Harry Landy 18th and Gary Curtis 31st. The 39 strong field of cars then took to the racing and continued the now familiar pattern of racing in one big group. Andy Perry just drifted from the front of the field at the 3/4 distance mark but still retained a well deserved 5th place. Harry surprised a few people by ignoring his relative lack of Caterham experience and making his way to the front group and competing well. He’d eventually drop back to 14th at the flag but it was a very promising start to 2019. Doug ended the day in 21st and Gary Curtis had a race long battle with a group of cars and crossed the line in 31st. But it was Gordon Sawyer who managed the race best of all, crossing the line in first and picking up a well deserved victory.
Race two picked up just where Race one had finished. The front group again going at it and swapping places at every opportunity. It was anybodies race and, somehow, through it all, Gordon once again stole a march on his opposition by clinching the double. After a qualifying that ended in the wall, some great work by the DPR mechanics to get the car race ready again was rewarded with a maximum points haul. Andy Perry was again slightly disappointed to only pick up 8th place. Doug Christie improved on race one with 18th place and Gary moved forward a few places to clinch 27th.