Caterham Graduates Racing Club

Caterham Graduates Racing Club is a British motor-racing club for privateer racing drivers in Caterham Seven type cars.

History

The Caterham Graduates Championship was started in 1998 by competitors from the 1997 Caterham Scholarship (subsequently Caterham Academy). For the first year it was called the Graduate 797 series (the first "7" for Caterham Seven, and "97" from the year that most drivers started competing). In its first two years, it was a multi-discipline series, with the rounds being made up of sprints (single car on track, against the clock), hillclimbs, and circuit races, similar to the Caterham Scholarship format. The emphasis moved more and more towards circuit races, and from 2000-on the series has been entirely circuit races.[1]

In 2001, following the Caterham Academy's change to Rover-engined cars, the championship launched a second class named Super Graduates, based upon an uprated K-Series Academy car.

In 2003, the Super Graduates class was further upgraded and renamed the Mega Graduates. A replacement Super Graduates class was created to accommodate standard ex-Academy cars with Rover K-series engines.

In 2007, the "Graduates" class was rebranded "Classic Graduates".

In 2010, Ford Sigma-engined cars were introduced as a sub-class of Super Graduates. From 2011 onwards, the Sigma cars have been a separate, 4th championship class.

In 2013, a 5th championship class was introduced for variants of the Ford Sigma-engined cars - SigMax. This allows suspension and engine upgrades in line with the Caterham Tracksport and Supersport series.

The series is one of the largest in the UK, if not the largest, with well over 100 registered competitors. The competitors come from a variety of backgrounds - a number have "graduated" from the novice Caterham Scholarship and Academy series, whilst many others have made it their first foray into motorsport.

Racing

The Caterham Graduates race series takes place over a number of races meeting each year at UK and European motor racing circuits. The races are usually run over 20–30 minutes and the leading car across the line after the time has expired is the winner. Wherever possible, each class starts on its own grids, but on larger grids it is usually necessary to combine two or more classes. The events are typified by close wheel to wheel racing, often having several lead changes on the same lap.

In Super Graduates and Mega Graduates, points are awarded thus: 40 for a win, 39 for 2nd place, 38 for 3rd place, right down to 2 points for finishing 39th or lower. It is 30 points for a win in Classic Graduates and Sigma Graduates, as they generally have slightly smaller grids. And even a driver who fails to finish will still earn one point. At the end of the season, drivers drop their lowest three scores, to allow for missing a race or two, or a "DNF" (did not finish).

In addition to the standard MSA motorsport rules, the club operates a Driving Standards function which ensures that the close racing is fair and safe for all.

The club's racing is organised through the BARC.

Car Specifications

The cars in the series are genuinely road-going, although Mega and SigMax Graduates spec is moving away from this with the deletion of lights, and indeed a few are driven to and (hopefully) from races. Many are used by drivers mid-week for transport to work and for shopping, needing no more than the covering up of competition numbers to make them road-legal. No changes from the standard specification are allowed, putting the emphasis firmly on driving ability rather than car development and set-up. Along with low consumable costs, this keeps the costs of running a car very much under control, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to go racing. The large grid sizes are a testament to this low-cost formula.

Current classes are:

Classic Graduate

1600cc Ford or Vauxhall engined Caterham Sevens with a live axle, from the Caterham Scholarship or Academy 1995 - 2000. These cars are fully road legal and produce around 100 bhp.

Sigma Graduate

1600cc Ford Sigma-engined cars from the 2008 Caterham Academy onwards or 2009/10 Roadsport B. The only significant permitted changes are a swap to stickier Yokohama A048R tyres and an optional rear anti-roll bar. The cars have independent DeDion rear suspension, produce around 120 bhp and are fully road-legal.

Super Graduate

1600cc Rover K-series Caterham Sevens with DeDion rear suspension from the Caterham Academy 2001 - 2007 or Roadsport B up to 2008. A current "Roadsport A" spec car can be converted into a Super Graduate relatively easily and at low cost. These cars are fully road legal and produce around 125 bhp.

SigMax Graduate

Uprated 1600cc Ford Sigma-engined cars from the 2008 Caterham Academy onwards or 2009/10 Roadsport B. No lights or windscreen, widetrack suspension, controlled engine upgrades and lightened flywheel.

Mega Graduate

Uprated 1600cc Rover K-series Caterham Sevens with independent (DeDion) rear suspension from the Caterham Academy 2001 - 2008. These cars are semi-road legal (no lights or windscreen) and with controlled modifications produce around 140 bhp.

All classes run on Yokohama road legal tyres. Classic Graduates race on MSA list 1A A539s, whilst Sigmas, Supers, Sigmax and Megas use the stickier list 1B A048R (medium compound)

Affordability and Technical Support

Affordability is a key ingredient to Caterham Graduates racing. Strict regulations allow only limited modifications and work on the sealed engines is limited to nominated engine builders - McMillan Motorsport and - for Sigmas and K-series only - Caterham Cars.

Other ways the club promotes affordability include limiting the amount of tyres the drivers can use through the season, providing race-day catering as part of the drivers' membership fees, and encouraging drivers either to stay on-site at the circuits or in budget hotels locally.

Race Numbers

Race numbers 1 - 49 go to Mega Graduates, 51 - 69 to Sigma Graduates, 71 - 99 to Classic Graduates, 101 - 149 to Super Graduates and 151-199 to Sigmax Graduate cars.

The lower race numbers represent a driver's performance in the previous season, as the first ten numbers in each class are reserved for those finishing in the previous year's top ten. For instance, Ian Anderson's number 171 indicates that he came 1st in Sigma Graduates in 2011. Higher numbers go to those who are new to the championship or class.

2015 Racing Calendar

Champions

Year Class Champion Runner-up Third
2017 SigMax Graduates Oliver Gibson Jamie Ellwood James Russell
Mega Graduates Declan Dolan Glenn Burtenshaw Roger Ford
Super Graduates Toby Briant Andy Molsom
Sigma Graduates Jon Harmer Ben Winrow
Classic Graduates Graeme Smith Robin Webb Peter Tattersall
2016 SigMax Graduates Dylan Stanley Lee Bristow Scott Lawrence
Mega Graduates Oliver Gibson Luke Cooper Glenn Burtenshaw
Super Graduates Ed Benson Toby Briant Andy Molsom
Sigma Graduates David Webber Jamie Winrow Jason Gale
Classic Graduates Steve McMaster Graeme Smith Robin Webb
2015 SigMax Graduates Neil Shinner Dylan Stanley Mick Whitehead
Mega Graduates Oliver Gibson Glenn Burtenshaw Andy Skinner
Super Graduates Toby Briant Martin Kay Gareth Cordey
Sigma Graduates Nigel Board Jason Gale Andrew Outterside
Classic Graduates Graham Smith Steve McMaster Trevor Harber
2014 SigMax Graduates Jeremy Webb Mick Whitehead Neil Shinner
Mega Graduates Adrian Russell Brett Ray Tom Overton
Super Graduates Toby Briant Martin Kay Jonathan Miller
Sigma Graduates Tristan Judge Scott Lawrence Zoltan Csabai
Classic Graduates Graham Smith Stu Thompson Graeme Smith
2013 SigMax Graduates Jeremy Webb Ian Anderson Mick Whitehead
Mega Graduates Jamie Ellwood Adrian Russell Dave Hewitt
Super Graduates Dylan Stanley Toby Briant Gareth Cordey
Sigma Graduates Amanda Black Steve Humphreys Yolande Humphreys
Classic Graduates Graham Smith Andrew Outterside Stu Thompson
2012 Mega Graduates Myles Packman Nick Haryett Nick Frost
Super Graduates Dylan Stanley Neil Shinner Toby Briant
Sigma Graduates Ian Anderson Ian Dyble Bill Scott
Classic Graduates Dave Pearson Justin Cox Graeme Smith
2011 Mega Graduates Myles Packman Mick Whitehead Paul Manyweathers
Super Graduates Reece Somerfield Dylan Stanley Neil Shinner
Sigma Graduates Ian Anderson Ian Dyble John Gil
Classic Graduates John Parker Rowan Williams Graeme Smith
2010 Mega Graduates Paul Turley Myles Packman David Shaw
Super Graduates James Sibbet Jamie Waring Daniel Malkin
Sigma Graduates Reece Somerfield John Gil Ian Dyble
Classic Graduates Graeme Smith Charles Fitzhugh John Parker
2009 Mega Graduates Jamie Ellwood James Barlow Adrian Russell
Super Graduates Trevor Newman David Pearce Mick Whitehead
Classic Graduates Flick Haigh Graeme Smith Adam Bettinson
2008 Mega Graduates Jamie Ellwood Andrew Ennis George Longmuir
Super Graduates Trevor Newman Edward Benson James Sibbet
Classic Graduates Graeme Smith Adam Bettinson Charles Fitzhugh
2007 Mega Graduates Jamie Ellwood Oliver Jackson Mike Welburn
Super Graduates Andrew Vickers Andrew Ennis James Sibbet
Classic Graduates Graeme Smith Trevor Newman Jonathan Vamplew
2006 Mega Graduates Guy Halley Martin Amison Paul Hudson
Super Graduates Charlie Hunt Trevor Newman Andrew Ennis
Graduates Graeme Smith Andrew Smith Andy Coombs
2005 Mega Graduates Matthew Burrows Martin Amison George Longmuir
Super Graduates Jamie Ellwood Rory Young Paul Manyweathers
Graduates Martin Oxborough Graeme Smith Rob Draper
2004 Mega Graduates Jamie Ellwood Chris Batten Guy Halley
Super Graduates Malcolm Barnett Nick Haryett Matthew Gillbanks
Graduates Andy Adshead Toby Briant Garry Kennedy
2003 Super Graduates A (Mega Graduates) Simon Lambert Jamie Ellwood Steve Knox
Super Graduates B (Super Graduates) Andy Baylie Russell Veitch Alan Williamson
Graduates Charlie Hunt Edward Chinn James Campbell
2002 Super Graduates Simon Lambert Jon Barnes Mac Apostolides
Graduates Rachel Green Steve Knox George Longmuir
2001 Super Graduates Nelson Rowe Rupert Whyte Steve Ruston
Graduates Jamie Ellwood Paul Manyweathers Timothy Evans
2000 Graduates David Williams Rupert Whyte Steve Ruston
1999 Graduates David Williams Christian Marryat Roger Wilkin
1998 Graduates David Williams Nick Haryett Nick Frost

Notable Past Champions

  • 2001 Super Graduate champion Nelson Rowe, who went on to win Caterham Roadsports A in 2002 and won the 2007 UK Historic Formula Ford Championship.
  • 2002 Super Graduate runner-up Jon Barnes, winner of the 2004 Caterham Eurocup series, the 2005 Caterham Masters championship, the 2006 Formula Palmer Audi championship and the 2008 British GT Championship.
  • 2002 Graduates Champion Rachel Green[2] - the first woman to win a one-make Caterham championship, and twice winner of the Lord Wakefield trophy.[3] The award is given for "outstanding achievement by a woman in motorsport worldwide."
  • 2006 Mega Graduate champion Guy Halley, who competed in the SEAT Cupra Championship, a support championship to the British Touring Car Championship.
  • 2007 Mega Graduate runner-up Ollie Jackson, who won the 2010 Pro-Am category of the Porsche Carrera Cup, drove the Lotus Evora GT4 in the 2011 British GT Championship, the Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra in the 2011 British Touring Car Championship and the Century Motorsport Ginetta GT55 in the 2015 Ginetta GT4 Supercup.
  • Multiple Classic, Super and Mega Graduate champion Jamie Ellwood, now a race-winner in the Caterham Superlight R300 championship. Jamie has won a total of 6 Caterham Championships, and the only person to have won all of the Graduates Club classes in which he competed. He is quoted by Caterham Cars as "the most successful Caterham racer ever".
  • 2009 Classic Graduate Champion Flick Haigh, who won the championship in an exciting final round decider at a very wet Spa Francorchamps. Flick is the second female champion in the club's history, following Rachel Green's triumph in 2002. After racing in the Caterham R300 championship, she is now driving an Optimum Motorsport Ginetta GT55 in the 2015 Ginetta GT4 Supercup.

Sponsors

About a dozen or so companies have their branding across each of the 100-plus racecars, and on the club's website www.graduates.org.uk.[4]

Relatively few of the drivers have individual sponsors, although this is permitted.

References

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