Donington Park Formula Vee race report

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With Racing Team Vee taking the tough decision to totally strip and clean the engine, we risked running out of time to have the Primrose Hospice sponsored Sheane ready in time for the penultimate round of the Formula Vee championship.

With a new found fire for a final assault on the championship, the care was ready and James Cater raring to go, with new pistons and barrels in the engine just in time.

After a few steady lap in qualifying, several flags around the circuit meant James never got a chance for a flying lap, leaving him a disappointing 21st on the grid, but knowing he had a lot more pace.

This was proven in the race as he charged up to 13th place, aided by a slight change in set-up that had balanced the car beautifully. After dicing with several cars before pulling clear, James was chasing down Bill ‘Wom’ Garner for 2nd in class, but couldn’t quite draw him in before the chequered flag.

This left James in 14th place overall and picking up a trophy for 3rd in Class B, with Wom ahead and Andrew Cooper taking the win.

Graham Gant won overall, chased hard all the way by Daniel Hands and Craig Pollard.

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With full confidence he could go at least a second a lap faster in the final race, where he’d be starting 17th and first in class, a push rod tube sprung a massive oil leak in the holding area.

Despite being easy to fix, the timing meant there was no chance to make the start of the race, and James had to drop out, losing more championship points.

The second race was cut short with a red flag after only a few laps, leaving Daniel Hands as the winner from Craig Pollard and Paul Taylor. Class B was taken again by Cooper, with Wom and Vaughn Jones taking the final podium places.

From a 2018 season showing very promising driving, and the car being on the pace, the unlucky engine problems have devastated the run at the championship. This means the choice of running at Snetterton in October for a chance to take second in the Class B Championship, or ending the season now to fully prepare the car over Winter ready for 2019.

See the onboard video of Race 1 here:
https://youtu.be/RwJvsiajIHs

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Silverstone Race Report

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Since James had his very first race at Silverstone in 2015, one of his favourite tracks has been very unkind to him. This weekend was to be no exception.

Steadily building pace in qualifying, the Primrose Hospice sponsored RTV Sheane Formula Vee felt very well balanced with James running in the top 14 for most of the session. Sadly, at the end of the Hangar Straight near the end of the session, the engine suddenly lost power and James switched it off to coast in to the pits.

His final qualifying position was a respectable 18th in the 37 car grid, but with no compression at all in one cylinder, mechanic Glenn Hay was unable to replace the piston and barrel in time before the start of the first race.

Craig Pollard took the win from Graham Gant and Ian Jordan. Andrew Cooper took Class B honours from Jamie Harrison and Richard Waddingham.

Although James would be able to start the second race the following day, the highly tuned 1300cc VW Beetle engine was still untested so it would be a gamble to see if things held.

A fantastic start put James in 10th place into the first corner, and right behind B Class championship leader Andrew Cooper.

With the car clearly down a little on power, James was still able to claw the time back in the corners to hang onto the back of Cooper, but on the second lap oil smoke started spewing from the car along with a major drop in power.

James started short-shifting to try and limp the car home with the sick engine, and although he was still catching cars in the corners he became a sitting duck on every straight, with car after car simply driving past him.

With the smoke (from a crumbling piston) increasing in the final laps, James managed to hang onto 18th place and 4th in class before shutting the engine off on the warm down lap.

Craig Pollard took another victory from Daniel Hands and Pete Belsey, with Cooper beaten to the Class B win by Jamie Harrison on the final lap, and Waddingham took another excellent 3rd place.

With only a few weeks to go until Donington Park on 2nd September, it will be a race against the clock to strip and rebuild the engine, but with James driving better than ever RTV will give it everything to challenge for the title in the last four races of the season.

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Mondello Park Race Report

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James Cater traveled to Ireland for a very rare round of the Heritage Parts Centre UK Formula Vee Championship at Mondello Park, where they would join the Irish Vee racers for their annual Festival as well as a championship round.

James arrived still not knowing if he could even get into the Primrose Hospice sponsored race car, as he had broken his ribs in a motorcycle accident only a week before and was in considerable pain.

Arriving late with only one brief test session squeezed in, James qualified 12th of the 15 car grid, knowing he needed to find at least another 2 seconds per lap to be in contention.

Graham Gant took pole position honours.

A few set-up changes to improve the cars turn-in did exactly that, and James stormed up to dice wheel to wheel with Bill ‘Wom’ Garner for the Class B win.

After an amazing battle James found himself behind as they went into the last lap, taking several corners at high speed with his wheels interlocked with Wom, before making a late dive into the very last corner. Unfortunately James spun off the circuit, losing a few places to finish 12th overall but still 2nd in class.

Graham Gant took an excellent win with Irish wildcard driver Jimmy Furlong taking 2nd. Ian Jordan took 3rd, less than half a second behind the winner.

For the second race James had gear selection problems, forcing him to do most of the race only in 3rd gear. This put him out of contention for the class victory, but he still battled to 11th place overall to pick up another 2nd in class and bouncing back to 3rd overall in Class B, and 18th in the overall points.

Gant made it two from two, with Craig Pollard and Tim Probert filling the rest of the podium places.

On Sunday the UK cars joined the Irish spec cars for the Vee Festival, with almost 50 cars competing in heat races to get into the final.

With more gear selection problems, James was only able to pick up 17th overall in his first heat, before a huge accident cut his second heat short, with James picking up some damage from a separate collision.

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Having pushed his body as far as he could, James was unable to enter the final races due to pain in his ribs, but was very happy with his performance over the weekend.

The overall Festival winner was Colm Blackburn in a Leastone, followed by Anthony Cross and Luke O’Faolain. Tim Probert, with 5th overall, was the highest placed UK spec car.

The next round of the championship is at Silverstone circuit on 11th & 12th August, where James hopes to take his first class victory.

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Croft Race Report

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Racing Team Vee escaped the torrential downpours in the Midlands and made the long trek to Croft in North Yorkshire for an unexpectedly sunny and dry two days.

Having spent every moment repairing the crash damage picked up at Brands Hatch, a few last minute problems were only spotted as we loaded the Primrose Hospice sponsored Sheane Formula Vee car onto the trailer, and so things weren’t looking great for results at one of James’ favourite tracks.

Despite the worries, Glenn Hay had managed to balance the car well and James was able to put some good lap times in to start from 14th and 13th for the races.

James gained a couple of places at the start of the first race before getting stuck into a 6 car battle. With the car struggling on the straights due to lack of power, James tried to make up as much time as he could through the corners but got shuffled back in the pack.

On the final lap the car ahead had a misfire on the fastest part of the track, blocking James at a crucial section and allowing Mark Egan to sneak through and dropping James to 16th overall and 5th in Class B.

Craig Pollard took the win over Daniel Hands and Ian Jordan, with James Harridge winning Class B followed by Andrew Cooper and Jamie Harrison.

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Race 2 saw James taking 9th place through the first few corners after some close wheel to wheel action with Andrew Cooper – the battle for second in Class B.

Despite being chased hard for the whole race, James was able to pull out and hold a safe gap to the pack behind who were waiting to pounce on the slightest mistake.

With James pushing to the limits around the high speed circuit the race was red flagged for another incident, leaving James with a solid and best ever result of 10th place and 3rd in class.

The overall honours went to Craig Pollard once again, who just pipped James Harridge and Ian Jordan to the early flag. With Harridge also taking the class B win that left Cooper in second again sandwiched between the James’s.

The next round will be a very rare international race at Mondello Park in Ireland on the 7th and 8th July, where the UK Championship races will form part of the Irish Vee Festival. James will be hoping to repeat his new found confidence and build even more speed to take him closer to the leading pack.

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Brands Hatch Indy Race Report

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With the damaged engine still in pieces, we put in a last second entry for the second round of the Heritage Parts Centre Formula Vee Championship at Brands Hatch in beautiful sunny conditions.

James Cater would treat the weekend as a test to see how the rebuilt engine in the Primrose Hospice sponsored RTV Sheane would perform, hoping to stay out of trouble and pick up whatever championship points were on offer.

Qualifying was marred by two red flags which cut the session short as James was still running the engine in, leaving him way down in 24th and 23rd place for the races, and having to fix an oil leak to get out for the first race.

A great start thrust James into a seven car battle for 14th place with all the cars swapping positions.

Unfortunately one car dropped it’s oil going into the top gear Paddock Hill bend, making James and Rory Melia ahead of him spin. With the rest of the field narrowly avoiding them, James spent several precious seconds trying to restart his stalled car as he rolled down the other side of Paddock Hill.

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With lots of oil now down on the track from other leaking cars, James was still able to chase down and pass Vaughn Jones with two laps to go to take 4th in Class B and 19th place overall, but finding the car running rough and down on power.

Graham Gant took the win in his WEV FV01, by 0.2 seconds from Daniel Hands and Craig Pollard picked up third overall. James Harridge won Class B after starting dead last (5th overall) from Andrew Cooper and Jamie Harrison.

Toying with the idea to pack up and go home, Glenn Hay found some valve clearances had slipped – an easy fix that had the engine sounding sweet again before we focused on the second race the next morning.

With the sun burning down yet again, James made up a few places on the start and was immediately in a 9 car scrap for 14th place.

Four laps in, James had a great run down the pit straight and was easing around the outside of Neil Aldridge around Paddock Hill bend when Vaughn Jones spun on the inside of the corner.

Neil moved right to avoid the spinner, still leaving James room on the outside of the track, but then Vaughn clipped Neil, sending him hard into the side of the RTV Sheane on the high speed exit.

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This impact bent a steering arm joint and put a hole through the side panel, and though James tried to continue the damage was too severe and he had to retire from the race.

The restart saw another red flag after three laps, with Ben Miloudi winning fromCraig Pollard with Daniel Hands picking up another podium. Class B went to James Harridge who only made it from last up to 6th place this time, with Andrew Cooper 2nd again and Rory Melia getting an excellent 3rd.

It was a frustrating weekend for RTV, as all we were trying to do was stay out of any trouble to assess the engine, but when the racing is as close as in Formula Vee these incidents will always happen – we just got unlucky this time.

Round 3 of the championship is at Croft in North Yorkshire on May 26th & 27th where we will need to get more from the engine to be competitive.

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Before then, James will be focusing his attention on the skies, as he will do his first ever tandem parachute jump raising funds for Primrose Hospice on 5th May. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped to raise £527 so far, and please donate what you can at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamescater18

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The Death Of An Engine

Here’s the damage to the engine, and how we’re hoping to fix it in time for Brands Hatch this weekend:

James Cater Racing

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I was building up speed on the wet and flooded track, but nowhere near the upper ends of the rev range – I was pulling between 5000 and 6000rpm when something metally-sounding happened inches from my head.

The throttle instantly felt light and so I pulled the clutch in and the engine stalled instantly.

It’s kind of hard to know what to listen for when an engine goes bad on you, as you don’t want to be pulling the car up if you’ve just rattled part of your exhaust loose. Keep your foot in when chunks of metal are crashing around the engine will mean a huge bill, however…

I thought that we’d had a main bearing failure, as it reminded me of how it went on my first time ever in the car, and as it turned out the engine had seized solid, so it’s a good job I…

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Castle Combe race report

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Easter Monday saw James Cater in his Primrose Hospice sponsored RTV Sheane heading to Castle Combe for his first visit in the Heritage Parts Centre UK Formula Vee Championship.

Several changes had been made to the 1300cc VW Beetle engined car since last season, but a few modifications and upgrades were unable to be completed in time for the opening round.

The morning qualifying session was in heavy rain and cold temperatures as 30 cars took to the picturesque Cotswolds circuit behind a safety car.

After a sighting lap to identify the parts of the track covered in standing water, James upped his pace, passing several other cars as he looked to set a good lap time.

James has made a concentrated effort to enjoy racing in the rain, and was feeling comfortable and confident, going around the outside of a competitor through the final turn, still building up his speed.

Unfortunately, his engine then seized solid in top gear when a valve head embedded itself in the top of a piston.

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Without the time or parts to repair the major damage to the engine, those were the only two laps James would be able to complete.

It was a major blow to the Class B championship points, but the positive to take away was that James’ first ever laps would have qualified him in 16th place on the grid before he’d had a chance to push.

Glenn Hay will now investigate the engine damage and RTV will hope to have the car ready to take the grid at Brands Hatch on the 21st and 22nd April.

James will be completing a tandem parachute jump to raise funds for Primrose Hospice on 5th May. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far, and if you are able to give even a small amount you can do so online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamescater18 or catch James in person.

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Charity parachute jump for Primrose Hospice

Please give anything you can for this great charity! Many thanks.

James Cater Racing

I know many of you often wish I’d jump out of a plane, and now you can help that to happen without incriminating yourselves!

On 5th May 2018, I will be doing a tandem skydive to raise money forPrimrose Hospiceand in memory of my Step-Dad, Vic Dovey, who was taken by cancer in February this year.

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Primrose Hospice cared for Vic in his final weeks and have been a massive help to our families during this time, and have helped with others close to me in the last few years, and so I’ll be proud to raise funds for them, as well as displaying their branding on my racing car again this year.

Despite being a bit of an adrenaline junky, I am actually scared of heights, so you can rest assured that this won’t be easy for me!

If you would like to sponsor me for…

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Donington Park Race Report

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James Cater went to Donington Park 3rd in the class B championship and 1 point behind Colin Gregory, with another two very fast drivers chasing to take the places away. With rear tyres that should long have been assigned to a skip and a slipping clutch, plus an engine badly in need of a rebuild, it was always going to be a challenge to hold 3rd – but why settle there? We wanted 2nd!

A safe qualifying somewhat appropriately left us on the grid 0.01 seconds behind Colin, and with yet another flying start by James Cater on a very slippery circuit, he used his head and did just enough to finish ahead of Colin to take 3rd in class in Race 1 – but with Andrew Cooper and Jack Wilkinson finishing ahead the gap was reduced for championship points.

Ian Jordan took the overall win, followed by Craig Pollard and championship leader Ben Miloudi – who still needed a few more points to wrap up the title.

Working out the standings for Class B showed James was now 1 point ahead of Colin, but on dropped scores he was actually still 1 point behind going into the final race of the year!

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Nailing the start again, James was ahead of Colin and even Andrew at one point, before Colin and Ross Price both passed James after a fluffed gearshift.

The safe plan to hold 3rd in the championship should have come into play as Colin pulled away with Ross, but James couldn’t live with that, digging deep and getting back into the battle with them, finally pulling a slight gap ahead on the last lap to take an ecstatic 3rd in class to give him 2nd in the championship!

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Sadly, the celebrations ended with a stewards enquiry with an unintentional and irrelevant overtake under a yellow flag in the early laps. The officials chose to apply an overly harsh and unfair penalty even after an appeal which dropped us down the order.

A sad way to tarnish a brilliant race, but we’re not letting the decision take it away – we went in to take 2nd in the championship and whatever the history books will say, we know we did it!

Well done to Jamie Harrison for winning the B Class championship, taking it easy as he only needed a single point from the weekend to wrap it up.

In the official race results Graham Gant took the overall win, with Adam Macaulay’s 2nd a great charge but not enough to stop Ben Miloudi taking the championship win for 2017. Martin Farmer took the final podium spot. In Class B Jack Wilkinson and Andrew Cooper took the top spots again, and Ross Price gets 3rd after my penalty.

Massive thanks to everyone who’s helped out through the year, and to all the drivers and crews who make Formula Vee so wonderful, to the marshals and the photographers – and of course to sponsors JooVuu and Primrose Hospice and to Bromsgrove Standard for their exposure.

We still appreciate every single day how privileged we are to be able to race amongst such talent – huge thank you to you all!

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Rockingham Speedway Race Report

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Rockingham Speedway is a new track to most of the current drivers in the Ravenol UK Formula Vee Championship, having not been used since 2013.

With budget a factor, James Cater in the RTV Sheane was unable to join the two test sessions that all but four drivers took advantage of, opting to learn the track during the qualifying session.

Despite several red flags stopping the sessions, James took advantage of his track knowledge from previous motorcycle track days, qualifying in 14th and 15th place out of the 30 car grid overall, and 5th in Class B for both races.

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The heavens opened with a torrential downpour just before the start of the race, leaving the track extremely slippery with lots of oil also down. Using the banked oval circuit for the flat-out first turn meant the cars would be inches away from the solid wall, and any mistake on that part of the track could be horrific.

Scrabbling for traction on the warm up lap, James made a decent start before locking up on oil at Turn 10 with two other cars and getting airborne over the gravel trap before rejoining. Luckily, another incident forced a restarted race, and James retook his original grid position.

After another good start, James lost a handful of places as he was trapped on the outside of the track going into Deene hairpin, and then avoided three cars spinning directly in front of him as he fought his way back up to 12th place by the end of the first lap.

He maintained the pace on a drying track, staying ahead of several race-winning drivers until making a mistake and out braking himself at Deene, having to turn around to rejoin. Unfortunately this turned out to be the final lap, and James had dropped to 16th place and fifth in Class B as he crossed the finish line.

The race was won by Ben Miloudi, with Adam Macaulay still chasing him for championship honours, with Graham Gant taking third.

Eagerly awaiting the second race after the rain came back with a vengeance, the organisers took the (correct) decision to cancel racing for the day on the waterlogged track.

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Whilst James was still kicking himself for his mistake, he was glad to have brought the car home safely, as they were displaying it the following day for the Sue Pike Equine & Animal Rescue charity.

His results also left James third in the B Class Championship, a single point behind Colin Gregory in second place. Rival Jamie Harrison finally escaped his reach and wrapped up the championship win.

With the final round at Donington Park on the last weekend of September being one of James’ favourite tracks, the 40 year old hopes to take that second place spot in only his second year of racing for his sponsors JooVoo and Primrose Hospice.

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