Croft Formula Vee race report

The promise of a rare dry race weekend didn’t happen, with conditions ranging from scorching sun to thunderstorms.

Several cars laid down oil on the racing line, meaning those who’d tested the previous day got their fastest laps in early on the good track. Unfortunately, with the disastrous Brands Hatch weekend still fresh, James Cater was still building up lap times and so suffered – a spin on his fastest lap leaving him down in 17th and 16th place for the races respectively.

Even this meant James qualified his RTV Sheane 3rd in the very strong B class field, and with James Harridge blowing his engine this meant a realistic 2nd for both races directly behind Colin Gregory, with a very real chance of class wins! Jamie Harrison had engine issues putting him all the way down to 27th and final spot on the grid for both races.

Ben Miloudi stamped his championship lead with pole position with Adam Macaulay hot on his heels, and Craig Pollard a second off the pair. Race 2 would see Macaulay, Pollard and Miloudi lining up.

Making a very fast start for race 1, James aimed to stay safe and out of trouble, holding a tight inside line through the first corner already having taken the Class B lead. Unfortunately Mark Egan cut back hard across the track at Hawthorn Bend, his rear wheel smashing into James’ front hard enough to snap the steering arm joint and rip off the front beam, stripping the bolt out of the nut.

Up the front, the top men had spaced out a long way, with Macaulay beating Pollard, and Miloudi completing the familiar trio. Harrison came through to 10th to take the B class honours from Gregory and Ross Price in his first ever Vee race.

The parts were easy to fix ready for the race the following day, but unfortunately setting up the rest of the car was more complicated at the track. With massive problems to the camber and toe of the front wheels, changes had to be made to the opposite side to try and compensate. A huge thanks to Gary Richardson for helping to try and sort the set-up out.

As the race began it was obvious that the handling of the car was severely affected, with James dropping down the order before a red flag forced a restart.

Thinking driver confidence may be part of the problem, James renewed his efforts to drive around the issues on the restart, pulling clear of the pack behind Colin Gregory who was leading class B.

Understeer through the flat-out, high speed corners around the back of the circuit meant James ran wide enough to put a rear wheel off the tarmac in a crucial braking zone on the exit of Barcroft resulting in a 130mph spin.

With the rest of the field narrowly avoiding James he was able to rejoin the track dead last, but managed to claw back two class positions before the end of the shortened 3 lap race, meaning a disappointing 5th in class and 17th overall.

In a much closer race at the front, Miloudi beat Macaulay by 4 tenths of a second, and Pollard was within a second of them. Harrison came through again to 11th to win Class B, with Ross Price making an excellent 2nd and Gregory snapping at his heels.

This was a great shame for a weekend that should have seen James fighting for a class win for sponsors JooVuu and Primrose Hospice at one of his favourite circuits, but the car will be back to fighting condition for Angelsey Coastal circuit on 8/9th July.

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Brands Hatch GP Race Report

It was a rare opportunity to use the full GP layout at Brands Hatch, but in a common theme of Formula Vee events, the weather did its best to throw some chaos into things.

With the event run by MSV, and the cars all sporting new VW Heritage sponsor stickers, James Cater in the RTV Sheane took to slippery track in heavy rain to qualify.

With not even a lap complete, the safety car had to be called out, and conditions were so bad drivers even had problems staying on the track behind the safety car.

James felt good on the restart with his new-found wet weather confidence, despite getting 4th gear wheelspin on the main straight, and tried to tag onto the back of some faster cars.

Unfortunately, the tricky conditions caught him out as he got on the power too early at Paddock Hill bend, going into the gravel at high speed and getting stuck just as another car hit the barriers and brought the safety car out again. Despite the short end to his session, the times still put James in 18th and 16th places on the grid for the races.

The frustrations continued as gearbox problems on the green flag lap of race one meant starting from the pit lane. The problems returned after a few laps and forced retirement, having lost 3rd and 4th gears. The only saving grace was that the problem was a tiny nut on the gear linkage that had worked loose, so the car would be fine for the second race.

With the conditions worsening again for the second race, and almost being cancelled, James made a good start and was running well in 12th place and looking for a strong podium in Class B.

Disaster struck at Paddock Hill once again, as the rear wheels locked up on the entry, and despite some frantic steering work the car ended up sideways in the gravel once again.

Unable to restart the car, this mean a second DNF for the weekend.

There is a lot of work to do to clean the gravel and dirt off the car ready for Croft at the end of May, and fears that it may have been an engine issue causing the rear wheels to lock, but we’re hopeful that it wouldn’t restart due to a flat battery rather than anything more serious.

It’s a shame that we had to come away from our first meeting sporting Primrose Hospice sponsorship with such poor results, but some decent (although short) onboard video has been captured by the JooVuu cameras, as always.

We’ll look to have a strong performance at Croft – a very fast circuit that James loves and that suits his driving style.