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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