Donington Park Formula Vee race report

Jonathan Elsey photography 1

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.

chicane 2

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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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.