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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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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