Caterham Classic Graduates Championship 2007





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Pembrey Race Report - Thanks To Andrew “Coyote” Smith

Race 1 - Saturday 14th April 2007

A reduced number of Smiths for 2007 saw newcomers Tony Barson, Adam Bettinson and Flick Haigh take the grid with returning veterans Graeme Smith, Sheila Marshall and Pete Cannard, plus 2006 Supers runner-up Trevor Newman. Some strong testing times set up a very quick qualifying, with local(ish) favourite and new father Jonathan Vamplew setting a superb pole position of 1.09.553.  He was joined in the sub 1m 10s by Newman and returning Classic Toby Briant, back in the car he'd sold to Alan Pearce 2 years previously. Dave ‘Bunter’ Marson had a nightmare testing, losing his A-frame to heavy kerb usage(!), then had to start from the back of the grid after a wheel fell off through “user error” in qualifying.

The race saw Vamplew make a good start, and he and Newman immediately opened up a gap over their pursuers, helped by contact between Bettinson and Briant at Brooklands on lap 1. Newman took the lead on lap 2, and he and Vamplew worked together to build a significant cushion while the chasing group of Barson, Briant, Bettinson and 2006 champion Smith, who had qualified surprisingly off the lead pace, battled themselves backwards.

This foursome subsequently separated into a duo and a trio (I know, that would have been a quintet, read on!), as ex-VW Fun Cup driver Barson and Briant made a break from Smith and Bettinson, who had been joined by Marson, storming (or should that be swarming?) through the field like a 4-wheeled wasp after his qualifying problems.

There was an equally close battle for the 8th to 12th positions, and after a cautious start in her first ever race, newbie Flick Haigh made her way through the Cannard/Grainger/Harbach battle to challenge Sheila Marshall for 8th, Sheila using her experience to keep Flick at bay until the end.

Back at the front (oxymoron spotters please consult Regs/Pronunciation Monkey Hawken for the correct pronunciation of “oxymoron”), Newman half spun at Brooklands on lap 13, while Vamplew completely spun in sympathy and lost 9 seconds, putting him back into the Briant/Barson battle for the final podium position. This left Trevor with a relatively easy drive to the flag, and Jonathan recovered to take 2nd in front of a fiercely-contested Barson/Briant scrap; Tony just coming through to take the pot from Toby by 0.017 of a second. Smith took 5th in front of Bettinson, Marson having spun himself out of contention and down to 7th on the penultimate lap.

Race 2 - Sunday 15th April 2007:

Grid positions were much the same for the second race, but this time it was Newman who led into Hatchets, closely followed by Vamplew, Briant and Barson.  Pete Cannard enjoyed (if that's the right word) what will probably be the shortest race of the season - his diff failing on the line - thus giving Flick Haigh and Darren Grainger an obstacle they would not have been expecting when the lights went out, and allowing Sheila Marshall to establish a clear gap to her pursuers by midway through lap 1.

Race 2 was much more closely contested at the front, with a lead group of 6 contesting the podium positions for much of the race.  Vamplew took the lead from Newman into Hatchets on lap 3, and Briant followed him through a lap later, while Barson drove a storming lap 5 and 6 to come through to the front, pushing Newman down to 4th and briefly into the clutches of the Smith/Bettinson battle. However Tony was soon to realise that taking a lead in Caterham racing is far easier than keeping it, as first Vamplew, then Newman and Briant shuffled him back to 4th.

Marshall was out on her own in 7th, with Dave Marson slowly catching at one point, but the gap stabilised to around 2.5 seconds as the race went on.  Grainger and Harbach battled for the whole race, Grainger leading initially then Harbach taking over and maintaining the place to the end.  After her excellent drive in race 1, hopes had been high for Flick Haigh, but she spun at Honda on lap 5 and left herself far too much to do to catch up.

The front six continued to battle, Smith taking 4th from Briant and then 3rd from Barson. Newman continually challenged Vamplew for the lead, forcing him into an error at Honda which resulted in unsuccessful passing attempts by both Newman and Briant, the latter losing both wing and positions in the process, dropping him back to 5th.  Newman took the lead at the same place on the following lap, and with the lead four cars going into Hatchets together, it could have been anyone's race with only a couple of laps to go. But it was Newman who came out of Hatchets in front, a lead he was not to lose, being followed home by Vamplew and Smith, with Barson, Briant and Bettinson making up the top six.

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