2023 Season Review

As we head into a cold, grim start to 2024, it’s a good opportunity to take a look back at what a superb season 2023 was with you all.

The season began with our pre-season track day at Donington Park all the way back in March. This was a great way to the start the year, to blow away those winter cobwebs, let your Caterhams see a bit of daylight and prepare for an exciting new season.

Just a few weeks later and we were back at Donington Park for the first round. With two strong grids for our 420R and 310R drivers, the stage was set for a thrilling season opener.

After making the switch to the 420R Championship, 2022 310R Champion, Gary Smith started his season perfectly with victory in race one. It wasn’t a simple victory however, with the top four drivers separated by less than one second, Smith certainly had to work for it.

Jonathan Mitchell was victorious second time around, after a superb battle with Smith and less than half a second separating the pair.

With a reverse of the top 10 forming the grid for the third race of the weekend, there was plenty of action to come. Three races and it was three different winners, as 7 Racing debutant Stephen Lyall climbed the top step of the podium, mere millimetres ahead of Mark Stansfield, with Anthony Barnes in third place. Ian Cowley was crowned the inaugural 420R Sportsman winner, whilst Gary Tootell claimed the accolade in race two.

There was just as much action to come from our 310R grid during this season opener. Now an experienced Caterham racer, it was Ben Winrow who kick started his 2023 campaign in fine fashion, with a double victory in races one and two.

Although Winrow had the first two victories of the season sewn up, it wasn’t straight forward, as he, Stephen Clark, 7 Racing newcomer David Baldwin and David Yates battled profusely, swapping positions lap after lap.

With a reverse of the top 10 for race three, all eyes were on Winrow to see if he could make it a triple success story, however a mid-race incident meant triple victory was not to be. In his wake, Clark proved a dominant force, when he came through from eighth on the grid to triumph by an eventual 13 second advantage.

Round two steered us to the Brands Hatch GP circuit. This rare and exciting opportunity to race a Caterham on the GP circuit is always a highlight on our calendar, and this year we were once again providing supporting action to the prestigious GT World Challenge Europe.  

With two races per class this time around attentions turned to the track, as we awaited an abundance of action.

The first 310R race of the weekend saw Baldwin secure his first pole position, as he and Clark shared the front row. With a 28-car grid, we were on course for a thrilling opener, as the field thundered into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, and we were not disappointed. After a jostle for position, it was 7 Racing newcomer, Max Haynes who scored his first victory in the championship, ahead of Clark and Baldwin.

Onto race two and the usual suspects fell to the fore, as we witnessed a superb Brands Hatch showdown. After starting at the back of the top 10, Haynes, Clark and Baldwin soon worked their way through the pack and resumed their race one battle. However, this time around it was Baldwin who came our triumphant, claiming his first 7 Racing victory, ahead of Haynes and Clark.

As the 420R Championship took to the track for its first outing of this prestigious Brands Hatch GP weekend, it was clear we were once again in for a real treat.

Following on from his Donington Park Victory, Mitchell leapt to the head of the pack, keen to emulate his successful performance. As the first race began, he, Barnes and Jay McCormack engaged in a thrilling pursuit, which saw Mitchell emerge on top. Stansfield and Justin Armstrong had been a part of the tussle for the opening few laps, before engaging in their own competition.

A 10th place finish in race one saw Andy Perry awarded a pole position start for race two. As the Field headed into Paddock Hill Bend on lap one, Perry held onto his advantage, leading the way towards Druids. However, as the pack steered its way onto the Grand Prix circuit, Mitchell and McCormack had navigated their way to the head of the field and were once again embroiled in battle.

Doubling his success, it was Mitchell who claimed victory in race two, just 0.046 seconds ahead of Perry, with McCormack in third place, whilst Ian Cowley secured a double victory in the 420R Sportsman Championship.

Round three and it was a trip to Norfolk and the Snetterton 300 circuit. Summer had well and truly found its way to the UK by this point, as we settled in for a scorching weekend. It was back to our trusty three race format this weekend, and with six races in total it was a fantastic round.

Starting with the 420R Championship, with championship leader Mitchell absent from Snetterton there was opportunity for others to upset the balance at the top of the championship standings. There was also a new face amongst the 420R drivers at Snetterton in Jamie Winrow. Although a familiar face in a Caterham and certainly in the 7 Racing paddock, this was Winrow’s first outing in his new (to him) 420R. Winrow is no stranger to race wins and podium finishes, and after a strong performance in testing on Friday, he began his 420R adventure with pole position in Saturday’s qualifying.

As race one got underway, Winrow held onto his advantage, however he soon found himself under immense pressure from the chasing Barnes. As the pair battled profusely, it was Barnes who eventually claimed victory, just 0.3 seconds ahead of Winrow.

Race two saw Barnes and Winrow resume their battle, however this time it was Winrow who secured the spoils, ahead of Barnes and Harry Senior.

As the final race of the day came around, the reverse top 10 grid looked set to provide plenty of action. Barnes wasted no time carving his way through the field, to eventually score another, somewhat comfortable, win. After incidents for others, it was eventually Smith and Russ Olivant who rounded out the top three. Cameron Cooper claimed a clean sweep of race wins in the 420R Sportsman Championship.

There was action from the word go in the 310R Championship. After a pole position start in race one for Clark, he steered his way to victory on circuit, however after a technical infringement, it was David Yates who was awarded his first victory of the season, ahead of Caroline Everett.

After starting from the back of the grid in race two, Clark was keen to make amends for race one, and set about chasing down top spot. With determination on his side, it wasn’t long before he was challenging for the lead. After gaining the lead on lap five, Clark steered his way to victory, ahead of Michael O’Reilly and Everett.

With one final chance to sample Snetterton success, our 310R drivers took to the grid one final time. With Clark starting 10th this time around, there was another challenge ahead of him. However, he navigated his way through the pack before scoring another victory, this time ahead of Yates and Haynes.

As we headed to round four, our respective championships began to take shape. This also marked our overseas round, as he headed to the Emerald Isle and Mondello Park.

With a mixed grid for this one, the 310R cars sat behind the 420R cars as they headed out for the first of three races. Saturday’s qualifying session saw David Baldwin secure pole position ahead of Caroline Everett, by just 0.004 seconds. After managing a 30 second or so gap to the 420R grid, the 310R cars navigated their way around the circuit, ready to thunder into action as they crossed the start line.

Baldwin immediately held onto this advantage, despite immense pressure from behind. Despite looking on course for his second win of the season, his chances were tested when the safety car was scrambled with just a few laps to go. with just a few minutes left on the clock, the race was stopped, crowning Baldwin the winner.

It was business as usual for the start of race two, as Baldwin again controlled a 30 second gap to the 420R grid ahead. A brief safety car appearance once again neutralised the pace at half distance, however this time racing resumed for a few laps. The road to victory was not quite so easy this time around, as Baldwin was forced to defend from Don Henshall and Clark for the duration. However, as the chequered flag came into sight, it was Baldwin ahead, with Clark and Henshall just behind.

Race three saw youngster Jake Poole take his first pole position start. In charge of managing the gap to the 420R grid this time around, Poole led the way as the race thundered into action. Henshall soon took control, however the safety car quickly put paid to his pace. At the restart, it was Ben Winrow who managed to sneak ahead, before returning to the top step of the podium.

The Mondello Park weekend saw the return of 2022 420R Champion Phil Jenkins, and what a return it was, claiming pole position ahead of race one.

With a pole to flag performance, Jenkins soon showed he had lost none of his prowess, despite this being his first competitive appearance behind the wheel since winning the championship. Now looking strong in the championship standings, Barnes was keen to enhance his title charge at Mondello Park, securing a second-place finish in race one, ahead of Jamie Winrow in third.

Race two saw a five-car battle for honours provide superb entertainment. At the halfway stage it was anyone’s guess as to who would claim the spoils, however after 10 fantastic laps, it was Stansfield who crossed the line victorious, ahead of Barnes and Smith.

A reverse of the top 10 for the final outing saw Philipp Nagel line up on pole position. An incident heading into turn one called for the release of the safety car, with a few cars stricken on circuit, however it wasn’t long before the action resumed.

Stansfield looked on course to score another victory, however, with local driver Karl Leonard and Barnes both hot on his heels it was a race to the flag. As the field lapped for the final time, Leonard saw his opportunity to make a bid for the lead, doing so just in time and securing victory on home soil. Barnes claimed runner-up spot once again, with Stansfield landing in third place.

As we headed towards the end of July, we found ourselves at Silverstone for the fifth round of the season. With the end of the year gradually coming into view, all eyes were on the respective championship battles.

Justin Armstrong began his weekend in the right way, with pole position ahead of the first 420R race. As race one began it was Armstrong who led the way, ahead of fellow front row starter, Gary Smith. The lead soon came under threat, as the returning Mitchell made a bid for control during lap one. Mitchell had been an early championship leader, however after missing Snetterton and Mondello Park, he was keen to make up ground on his rivals.

With 28 minutes still to go, Mitchell, Armstrong and Smith found themselves three wide across the Silverstone GP circuit, as the battle ignited. Despite the early efforts of Mitchell, it was Barnes who quietly steered his way ahead to claim victory, ahead of Armstrong and Mitchell.

Conditions changed dramatically ahead of race two, and in what can only be described as torrentially wet conditions, the stage was set for a, rather steady, 420R Silverstone GP finale.

Matt Drew found himself on pole position this time around, as the field tip toed around the formation lap. A shortened 15-minute encounter this time around, conditions were proving rather treacherous, with cars falling from grace lap after lap. Despite the tricky conditions, it was Harry Senior who triumphed, ahead of Armstrong and Mitchell. Gary Tootell and Ian Cowley shared the 420R Sportsman spoils this time around.

Onto the 310R races, and despite starting sixth on the grid for race one, Ben Winrow launched himself into top spot following a lightning quick getaway. A thrilling battled followed, as he, Yates, Everett, Clark, Baldwin and Henshall battled for supremacy lap after lap.

After 30 minutes of continuous action, it was Baldwin who eventually crossed the finish line ahead, with Clark and Winrow in tow.

Sharing the treacherous conditions with the 420R drivers, race two took place on an extremely wet Silverstone circuit. Charles Elliott led the way from pole position this time around, however it wasn’t long before Yates found himself ahead of the pack.

As the chequered flag fell, it was Yates who crossed the line in front, however after a post-race 30 second penalty, victory was awarded to Winrow, with Rob Warner second and Clark in third place.

Round six took us to Oulton Park. Oulton Park is a fantastic circuit, and a great setting for the penultimate round of the season. Tensions soon began to mount at this round, as championship titles were on the cusp of being secured. There was a lot at stake.

Starting with the 310R Championship, Baldwin had been the man to beat for the last few rounds, however despite his dominance, it was Everett who claimed pole position ahead of race one.

Onto the first race and it was David Yates who shot into the lead out of Old Hall on the opening lap, as Everett settled in second and Paul Sethi held onto his third place starting position. Before long, Yates was soon defending his lead from the charging Stephen Clark, as he, Don Henshall and Ben Winrow battled their way through the pack towards the head of the field. After 30 minutes of action, it was Henshall who secured the win, ahead of Baldwin and Mark Roberts.

Race two saw the usual suspects resume their battle almost immediately, however it was Simon Sharrock started in top spot this time around.

A strong run around the outside into Old Hall saw Winrow claim the lead straight away, with Sharrock in second place. Before too long it was a Winrow-Clark battle once more, as the duo swapped places whilst jostling for the lead. After 25 minutes of racing, it was Winrow who claimed victory, ahead of Clark by just 0.125 seconds, with Henshall in third place.

Following qualifying for our 420R drivers, it was the perfect start to the day for Barnes, as he secured pole position ahead of race one. As the first 420R race began, it was Barnes and second placed Mark Stansfield who immediately leapt to the head of the field, sitting side by side for the first half of the opening lap.

As the race unfolded, Barnes and Stansfield raced furiously lap after lap, swapping positions and mirroring one another at every turn. As the last few laps came into play, Barnes saw his chance to reclaim the lead, just in time for the chequered flag. Stansfield held on for second place, less than half a second behind, with Armstrong narrowly securing third.

As race two got underway it was Jose Magalhaes and Lewis Tootell who stole the show with their lead battle. After the pair swapped positions numerous times, their first was soon diffused when a soaring Stansfield made his way ahead, followed by Barnes.

As Stansfield and Barnes resumed their race one battle, someway ahead of the chasing pack, Jamie Winrow quietly joined in the fun, latching onto the back of them. As the race unfolded, the top three engaged in a thrilling battle, each one keen to claim victory for themselves. After 25 minutes of racing, all eyes turned to Lodge corner to see who would exit ahead and claim the victory. It was Barnes who came into view first, with Winrow second and Stansfield third. This victory was also enough to confirm Barnes as the 2023 420R Champion, with one round to go.

And with that we arrive at the season finale. A return to Donington Park, this time on the Grand Prix circuit, saw us end our 2023 season in style.

Despite already securing the 420R championship title, Barnes arrived at Donington Park keen to end his season on a high with yet more wins, but there were plenty of drivers who were keen to disrupt his plans and claim victory for themselves.

Following qualifying, it was Jose Magalhaes who kick started his weekend with pole position. Thundering towards Redgate for the first time, it was Mark Stansfield from third on the grid who led the way, whilst Magalhaes, Armstrong and Jamie Winrow settled in behind.

As the grid headed onto lap two, Stansfield, now in the lead, looked to have control at the front, as there was plenty of action behind. Magalhaes, Armstrong and Winrow continued their battle for second place, whilst behind them Jay McCormack and Gary Smith were battle side by side for position.

With 17 minutes still to go, the nine-car train battled profusely for honours lap after lap. Unsure who would enter the final corner ahead, it was eventually McCormack who came into view first, less than half a second ahead of Stansfield.

Onto the final 420R race and it was Russ Olivant who started from pole position. As the race began, it was Tootell who nipped ahead of Olivant into Redgate. However, the race was soon halted after an incident stricken first corner which brought about the red flag. With the grid reformed, it was Smith who launched an attack for the lead this time around, from fourth on the grid.

As the final few laps came into play, it was a two-way scrap for the lead between Smith and Barnes, with the pair swapping positions lap after lap. Following an action-packed final lap, it was Barnes who claimed the final victory of the season, just 0.127 seconds ahead of Smith. Winrow steered his way to third place, despite starting 23rd on the grid.

Onto the final 310R races of the season, and the stage was set for two thrilling encounters. After being crowned the 2023 310R Champion following Oulton Park, David Baldwin elected not to race at Donington Park. In his absence, all attentions fell to runner-up spot.

Mark Roberts started his weekend perfectly, with pole position ahead of race one. Starting with an immediate advantage, Roberts lined up on the grid, with Henshall alongside. As race one began it was Yates who got the jump on his rivals, launching himself into the lead from third on the grid.

With one lap completed, Roberts had navigated his way back to the front, closely followed by Yates, Everett and Ben Winrow. Before long, there was a seven-car battle for the lead, with each driver in with a chance of success.

As the lead changed hands numerous times, it was Clark who eventually crossed the line victorious, ahead of Roberts and O’Reilly.

The final 310R race of the season was upon us, and second place was still up for grabs. Colin Loughlin lined up on pole position, ahead of youngster Sam May for his first front row start.

As the race got underway, Loughlin held onto his position as the field weaved its way through the opening lap, however it wasn’t long before Yates had made his way ahead, with Roberts trying his best to follow suit.

Before long, Yates and Roberts had edged away from the chasing pack, and with a seemingly comfortable two second gap to their nearest challenger, the pair looked to have a strong advantage. However, it wasn’t long before the battle for the lead became a six-car train once again.

With Clark ahead of the train for a number of laps, he looked on course to double his weekend’s successes, however Henshall soon muscled his way through into the lead. With Clark, Henshall and Yates vying for the lead in the final 10 minutes, a collision saw all three of them scuppered. Although Yates was out of the running, Henshall and Clark managed to continue, albeit somewhat scathed.

As the chequered fell for the final time this season, it was Henshall who claimed victory on circuit, before a subsequent penalty saw him demoted down the order. In his wake, it was Everett who triumphed, ending her season with victory, whilst Roberts claimed second place.

It’s been fantastic to look back over what has been a superb season with you all. 2024 is set to be just as good, if not better, with plenty on offer both here in the UK and in Europe.

Our 2023 Awards night and 2024 launch event is being held in London on Saturday 24th February. More details can be found on our website. We also have a pre-season Caterham only track / test day on Saturday 16th March that all Caterham owners are welcome to attend.