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

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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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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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.

Primrose Hospice – Who are my newest sponsors?

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As you may have seen on Twitter and Facebook, Racing Team Vee have formed a proud partnership with Primrose Hospice for 2017!

Primrose Hospice is an independent charity supporting patients and families living with a life-limiting illness, across North East Worcestershire.

Their staff and over 450 volunteers are involved in a massive range of activities from supporting patients in the Day Hospice and Family Support Team to running fundraising events all year round.

With the main base in my own home town of Bromsgrove, the results of their help are well known to all my family and friends, and having recently witnessed how they helped my fiancée’s Dad come to terms with recovering from prostate cancer I knew I had to try and help out in any way I could.

The whole team is very positive and upbeat, and that shows with the strength and outlook it gives to their patients, too.

A unique thing I found on a visit is Trevor – the Therapy Dog. He wonders around the place making friends with patients and offering the kind of supporting ear that only dogs can. A brilliant idea, and you can follow his exploits every week on Trevor Tuesday on Twitter.

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I’ll be showing my own support for Primrose Hospice later in the year as I jump out of a perfectly good air plane for a tandem parachute drop – so watch this space and please help me raise some much-needed funds!

You can, of course, donate directly to Primrose Hospice, and I’ll be setting up a facility myself, soon.

For me, this is a great chance to give something back to a charity I really believe in, and I hope you will welcome them aboard RTV. Their branding will be prominently on display on James’ Sheane Formula Vee car at the legendary Brands Hatch racing circuit this Monday along with existing sponsors JooVuu.

Please like and share and stay tuned for an exciting year!

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