Caterham Academy - Goodwood Sprint 5 June 2004

Executive summary: I came seventh (again), for 14 points out a possible 20, with six rounds still to go. My overall position in the championship has moved up to fifth equal.

The Academy program consists of three sprints, one hillclimb, and four circuit races. Following on from Aintree on the 24 April, this was our second event, at the historic Goodwood circuit near Chichester.

At Aintree I'd come seventh in my group of 26. This time I hoped to do a little better.

Aintree Sprint circuit - image courtesy of BMRC
Click on image for a 24MB video of the first timed run
(Broadband only - not recommended for modem users!)


The good news is that Goodwood is a much longer and more interesting circuit than Aintree. The bad news is we were only to get three runs: one double-lap practice, and then two single-lap timed runs.

Unlike Aintree, I'd actually had a chance to do a trackday at Goodwood, so I knew the circuit pretty well. I even thought I was quite quick round there...


The Academy class was towards the end of the schedule, but nevertheless it still managed to catch me out with how quick it arrived, even though I'd been at the circuit since just after seven.

At Aintree, we'd just queued up and started one after the other. At Goodwood, where finishing cars have to cross the start-line, things are arranged rather differently. Five cars are lined up across the grid, and launched one after the other: with the aim of the final car being well clear before the first car completes its lap.

We were to do two laps, but only the first would be timed (for reference only - it wouldn't count for anything). I set off at what I thought was a pretty good trackday pace. It certainly felt fast.

Sadly, when the results came out, I found I was only eighth fastest, and a full six seconds slower than championship leader Jeremy Ellis. Clearly a track day pace wasn't good enough, and I was going to have to pull the stops out for the timed runs.

Goodwood Garage - note new high-tech wheel chocks

Run One

I'd watched the on-board video of the first run, and identified a few places where I figured I could cut a fraction of a second. Could I put them together to make a significant inroad into that six-second gap?

I got a near-perfect start: no wheelspin, but no bogging down either. I threw it into Madgewick without backing off at all, and kept the momentum all the way to St Mary's, where I braked a little less than before. At the entry to the double-apex Lavant complex, I had a slide which I figured meant I'd gone in too fast. From there it went well until the final chicane, where I scrubbed off way too much speed, pootling through the chicane and lacking drive onto the finish straight.

When the results came in I was really pleased to find I'd knocked a whole four seconds off my previous time, and moved up into fifth. Jeremy hadn't gone much quicker than before, so I was now two seconds behind the lead, instead of six. That was more like it! A bit more speed through St Mary's, a more controlled entry to Lavant, and a better run through the chicane - and I can surely get at least two seconds off!

Startline - remember, you don't all go together!

Run Two

OK, so I've got a "banker", now I can afford to go for it!

A bit of wheelspin on the start, but I make a good pace through Madgewick, and (as intended) get more speed through St Mary's. A more controlled entry to Lavant with no slide this time - things are going to plan. Nicely through the chicane, much quicker than last time. Yes! Great lap. I look forward to finding myself well up my previous lap.

Only I'm not. When the times come out, I find I've gone a full second slower on that second - apparently faster - run.

Later, careful side-by-side analysis of the videos from the two runs show up what happened. Firstly, the wheelspin on the start cost me a third to half a second, and I'm behind all the way to St Mary's. More speed through St Mary's only manages to catch up, and the two videos are neck-and-neck. Then, what really killed me was Lavant. The "controlled" entry to Lavant cost me loads of time, and this was maintained and multiplied all down the long following straight. So much for the "in slow out fast" mantra - the entry with the slide was at least a second faster overall.

I also went a bit slower through Woodcote - the last corner before the chicane. I think this was because all my concentration was on going faster through the chicane, and I failed to put enough effort into getting Woodcote right.

I was bitterly disappointed at the time - I'd really thought that was a good run and would have me up in the top five (where I'd collect a trophy) but with my first run being the fastest, I dropped down to seventh. In retrospect though, I learned from it, and hopefully will be able to make good use of that lesson in future.

Exiting Chicane

The other good piece of news is that my two seventh places are enough to put me up into fifth place, sharing it with Paul Ray-Johnson. Sadly one reason for this was that Keith Chanter smashed the rear of his car after spinning in practice, and was unable to compete as the fuel tank was damaged.

Here's the championship table according to my (possibly flawed) calculations:

12Jeremy Ellis202040
2=18Guy Harrington191635
2=99Kevin Dodd171835
2=34Tim Skipper161935
5=7Roger Ford141428
5=88Paul Ray Johnson111728
7=69Peter Earnshaw151025
7=27Chris Fryar131225
923Simon Young121123
105Jamie Mackrill71522
1124Andrew Critchett81321
1220Kenny Weir101020
1377Keith Chanter18018
149Nick Brooks9817
1566Steve Grainger279
16=33Chris Heaton448
16=8Mike Steer358
18=11Paul Sweeney617
18=87Charles Bateman527
2044Robin Russell066
2130Mark Johnson134
221Richard Morgan112
23=4Steve Brown112
23=13Mark Brown112
23=26Mark Wells112
26=17Dominic Wallington011
26=80Chris Hurst011

Our third and final sprint is at Lydden on the 18th June, followed by Harewood Hillclimb on the 1st August. The whole calendar looks like this:

24th AprilAintreeSprint
5th June GoodwoodSprint
19th JuneLyddenSprint
1st AugustHarewood (Yorks)Hillclimb
22nd AugSnettertonRace
19th SeptMalloryRace
2nd OctOulton ParkRace
9/10th OctBrands HatchRace

Waffle by Roger Ford - no rights reserved. If you think it's worth stealing, I'm flattered.

Read about other stuff I did in a previous life at