Many had said that the Covid fuelled off season had seemed longer than ever. The new race season couldn’t come soon enough. The workshops around the country had been busy over the winter with regulation changes for fire extinguishers and fuel sampling, along with a raft of new sponsors stickers to be applied on top of the regular winter refresh work.
So it was with much excitement that over 60 drivers descended on Donington Park for the season opener. The weather was dry and bright, but coats and hats were order of the day as the temperature was in the low single digits for the whole day.
Qualifying for the 420R’s showed that the winter cobwebs had been well and truly blown away with the top 22 drivers all being within one second of pole! Qualifying for the 1600’s didn’t disappoint either, with a phenomenally close grid of Sigma engine cars.
Race one for the 420’s showed that the cold track surface could be a problem, with the 5th placed car of Paul Thacker spinning behind the safety car on the green flag lap. They did all get away at the first time of asking and it was about eight abreast into Redgate. Amazingly they all got through without incident with Russ Olivant heading the field. The next twenty five minutes saw the lead change countless times, an early three way battle for the lead, developed into a six way and then an eight way battle, with Jenkins, Thacker, Stansfield, Barnes, Olivant and Cheetham fighting it out at the front of the lead group. Cheetham’s march up from 14th, was halted when he spun coming out of McLeans having made it all the way to 4th. Gary Tootell was another driver on a mission making it all the way to 4th from his starting position of 19th.
A spin and coming together involving Matt Reeve left his car in a somewhat precarious position on the outside of Coppice, so an early chequered flag was bought out. The top 4 going into the last corner was Thacker, Jenkins, Stansfield and Barnes, but as they exited to take the chequered flag, Anthony Barnes was noticeably absent after late spin, so the order across the line was Phil Jenkins 1st, Mark Stansfield 2nd and Anthony Barnes 3rd.
Race one for the 1600’s started in a far from ideal fashion with Ian Fortescue and Ryan Grant spinning as the pack were rolling across the start line to get underway. Grant’s car finished up hitting the pit wall quite heavily which bought out the red flag with the leaders only just rounding Redgate. The restart was much less dramatic with the pack getting away cleanly. The order was Smith, followed by Henshall and Bell as they exited Redgate. An early lead pack of seven cars quickly grew to ten with the front three of Bell, Smith and Henshall trading places on an almost corner by corner basis. Bren Maude got himself into the leading trio before a coming together at the Craner Curves between Cooper and Rosewell bought out the safety car.
The restart was incident free with Gary Smith leading the pack around Redgate for what was an eleven minute sprint to the flag. Smith very quickly managed to break the tow and gap the chasing pack. That pack was led by Henshall, Maude and Bell. Michael O’Reilly quickly joined the front of the chasing group and their positions rotated for the next half a dozen laps. Eventually O’Reilly managed to break away, but by this stage it was too late. Gary smith took the chequered flag with a seven second gap back to 2nd place Michael O’Reilly and 3rd place Bren Maude a further second adrift.
Race 2 for the 420’s saw a front row of Thacker and Perry with the top 10 reversed from Race 1. Thacker led them around Redgate. The next ten minutes saw Barnes, Stansfield and Jenkins make their way to the front of the chasing pack to give us a familiar front four once again. With Thacker defending the inside line into Redgate from Barnes, Jenkins got a great run through the corner and was past both Barnes and Thacker by the time he hit the brakes for the old hairpin. The lead pack was now twelve cars with Jenkins, Stansfield, Thacker and Barnes leading the way. Stansfield exited the battle into the gravel at McLeans, and the lead group was now down to three. Danny Killeen took that group back to four cars before Matt Reeve bought out the safety car following a spin on the start finish straight.
The order behind the safety car was Jenkins, Thacker, Barnes and Killeen until Phil Jenkins exited stage left onto the grass while trying to keep some heat in his now ageing Toyo’s. The race restarted for a one lap sprint to the line. Barnes and Thacker rounded Redgate side by side and spent most of the lap two abreast. It was Paul Thacker who kept his nose in front through the final chicane and took the win by a mere fifty five thousandths of a second from Anthony Barnes in 2nd. The final podium position went to Danny Killeen after a slight coming together at the chicane with Andy Perry.
Race 2 for the 1600’s saw the pack get away cleanly at the first time of asking. The reversed top ten was led around Redgate by pole man Rob Warner with Caroline Everett in a close 2nd. Everett led at the end of lap one, although Don Henshall quickly relieved Caroline of the lead and proceeded to pull away at the head of the pack. Maude and Everett traded places at the head of the chasing pack, until Gary Smith managed to take both of them and set off in pursuit of lead man Henshall. A few laps later and Stuart Bell also took advantage of the squabbling head of the chasing pack and set off after Smith and Henshall.
With ten minutes to go the lead pack of Henshall, Smith and Bell were locked together and some nine seconds ahead of the chasing pack. What followed was a fantastic three way battle for the lead. That lead changed at least once on every lap, with all three drivers leading the way at one time or another. The final lap was as fraught as the proceeding half dozen, but some great defensive driving from Henshall, saw him nose out of the chicane in the lead. Bell locked up into the chicane which gave Smith a run on him onto the start finish straight. So it was Don Henshall that took the chequered flag, Gary Smith just made it to 2nd with Stuart Bell two tenths behind in 3rd. All three cars crossed the line within a second of each other.
Both drivers and spectators alike agreed that as opening weekends of a race season go, 2022 was right up there with the best of them. The Toyo Tires 7 Race Series has a short four week break now before heading to Brands Hatch, to take on arguably the best circuit layout in the UK on the GP loop in support of GT World Challenge which will see Valentino Rossi trade two wheels for four on the 30th April and the 1st May. We look forward to seeing you there.
I have been a lifelong motorsport enthusiast, however, this year at 40 has been the first opportunity for me to realise my dream of racing.
The choice of race car was a natural one as my other passion and profession as an architect helps me appreciate the timeless brilliance of Colin Chapman’s distilled 7 design that combines ruthless simplicity, efficiency and effectiveness for maximum performance and enjoyment. The mantra ‘less is more’ is most fitting.
That is the logical reason, however, a more personal reason dates back to 1989 in the Le Mans Lotus Club campsite as an eight year old sitting in a 7 that I first fell for that unique view down the bonnet, the narrow open cockpit and their inherently joyful feel, even at standstill.
Yet these sound reasons for wanting to race a Caterham were eclipsed by the immense thrill of actually driving one at Anglesey in 2021 thanks to friend and fellow 420R racer Philipp Nagel. On that day I also had the good fortune of meeting the incredibly friendly and accommodating TFL Racing team and all that mattered from that game changing day onwards was tracking one down and getting into the right racing series.
I had initially thought I would start in the Caterham Academy, however, upon talking to various contacts who would know, it was the consensus that the Toyo 7 Series was ideal championship for the way it was run by the incredibly experienced McMillan Motorsport, the excellent racing standards, the highly professional teams and top flight circuits the series run at in the UK and Europe. I went to the 2021 Silverstone round to see for myself and, whilst I was made aware that the competition would be toughest in the Toyo series, the whole package was far too compelling to not be a part of.
TFL Racing found me a 420R in December and I have enjoyed their fantastic car and driver support ever since, including the epic experience of my first race weekend at Donington Park.
The racing, shared passions and camaraderie are wonderful components of the Toyo series, however, another is that the all involved are inherently driven, forward looking individuals who are successful at what they do outside of the series in businesses as well as living their lives, which is just the type of people that my firm, Greenaway Architecture, loves working with. Therefore, I also hope there will be opportunities to collaborate professionally with my fellow competitors over time, as well as enjoying racing with them.
Race entries for the 2022 Toyo Tires 7 Race Series went live only three weeks ago and at the time of writing, almost 600 race entries for their nine events have been sold. The foreign rounds at Spa, Barcelona and Monza sold out in just under 48 hours!
When asked why so much interest, Sean Bicknell 7 Race Series Coordinator stated “It really has been a manic few weeks in the office, processing everyone’s race entries. We have improved our communications this year and now that we can process bookings and payments via our website, it has made it easier for drivers to arrange their racing.
The foreign rounds sold out extraordinarily fast, but we do share those grids with our Portuguese partners, so we have less grid slots available for our UK drivers at those events. The UK rounds have also been popular, with a full grid of sixty one cars booked for Silverstone along with five paid up reserves. We run two grids at all of the other UK championship rounds, so we have a much higher capacity at those events, we still have space available at Donington National, Brands Hatch GP, Snetterton 300 and Oulton Park International. That said, we have sold approximately 84% of our total grid slot capacity across all of our events so far.
To answer the question of why so much interest, the series has always prided itself on organising events at the best circuits that the UK and Europe has to offer. The racing is super competitive while remaining fair. The regulations are closely adhered to, but again in a fair and open way. But the main reason in my opinion is the friendly paddock, we have a great bunch of drivers and supporting teams. It’s like a big family really.”
With memberships also up for the 7 Race Series this year and over 80 fully paid up driver members already on the books, It’s looking like 2022 is going to be the busiest year yet for the 7 Race Series!
Keith, our scrutineer, mentioned to me in a recent conversation that Motorsport UK wants to crack down this year on cars that don’t have the correct fuel sampling facilities.
Below is the relevant section from the Blue Book.
5.13.7. With the exception of cars competing in Sprint and Hill Climb road going production category, cars competing in British and Motorsport UK Titled Championships for, and all new build cars for, Rallycross, Car Racing, Special Stage Rallying, Sprints and Hill Climbs must be equipped with the facility to enable a fuel sample to be taken. For fuel injected cars the facility must be a dry break fuel sampling coupling, approved by the FIA, Competitors must carry and make available a 300mm minimum length of hose to which, where necessary, the appropriate mating part is to be attached.
For those that need dry break couplings, Caterham do sell them, and it’s a nice easy fit, but at the time of this article they are showing as out of stock:
You will also need this part, which is also showing as out of stock at the time of this article:
I had a quick google and found this kit at Murray Motorsport. This seemed the best value FIA approved stuff, although you will have a bit of pipe work to fit it.
If anyone has a cheaper source for a decent kit, please let me know.
Fire extinguisher regulations have changed for this season. I want to pass on the contents of a recent conversation between Motorsport UK and our chief scrutineer. Bottle sizes are different, as is the pipe diameters and number of pull cords and nozzles. The appropriate section from Appendix 3 of Appendix K is below for those that may not be aware. I am also hearing that the usual places are struggling for stock of the new extinguisher kits, so if you haven’t got this in hand, it’s worth thinking about it now.
The main reason for this article is the subject of ‘triggering points’. Race spec Caterham’s have in the past got away with only having one ‘triggering point’ on the dashboard, in reach of the driver, and as the car has no windscreen, a marshal should be able to reach it too. We have been told that this will remain the same for 2022, but it is a bit of a grey area, and it could cause problems for drivers with only one ‘trigger point’ on the dash board.
We have been told that general scrutineers and marshals are going to be pretty hot on extinguishers this year, so we are recommending drivers all go with a second ‘trigger point’. This should be mounted on top of the scuttle in ‘close proximity’ to the master cut off switch. For cars that have a master cut off on the side of the car, then the regulations state that the second trigger point should be in ‘close proximity’ to that external cut off switch. However, I think we would all agree that on the top of the scuttle in the middle of the car is a far more accessible point and it is the location we are recommending.
APPENDIX K – APPENDIX 3
Mandatory for all vehicles from 1st January 2022.
3.1. Plumbed-In Fire Extinguisher Systems
3.1.1. Where a plumbed-in fire extinguisher system is required the vehicle must be equipped with an extinguishing system in compliance with FIA Standard for plumbed-in Fire Extinguisher Systems in Competition Cars (1999) or with FIA Standard 8865- 2015. The system must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and with FIA Technical Lists n°16 or n°52. In rallies, the minimum quantity of extinguishant for systems of FIA Technical List n°16 must be 3 kg.
3.1.2. All extinguisher containers must be adequately protected and must be situated within the cockpit. The container may also be situated in the luggage compartment on condition that it is at least 300 mm from the outer edges of the bodywork in all horizontal directions. It is prohibited to mount bottles outside the main structure.
3.1.3. It must be secured by a minimum of 2 screwlocked metallic straps and the securing system must be able to withstand a deceleration of 25 g. Anti-torpedo tabs are required. The material of the securing system must operate within the –15°C to +80°C temperature range. All extinguishing equipment must withstand fire. Plastic pipes are prohibited and metal pipes are obligatory (unless specified otherwise). The system must work in all positions.
3.1.4. The system should have two points of triggering, one for the driver (and Co-driver in Rallies) and one outside the car for activation by Marshals etc.
3.1.5. The driver (and co-driver where applicable) must be able to trigger the extinguishing system manually when seated normally with his safety harnesses fastened and the steering wheel in place.
3.1.6. The triggering point from the exterior must be positioned close to the Circuit Breaker (or combined with it) and must be marked by the letter “E’’ in red inside a white circle of at least 10cm diameter with a red edge.
3.1.7. Extinguisher nozzles must be suitable for the extinguishant and be installed in such a way that they are not directly pointed at the occupants' heads.
The 7 Race Series is very pleased to announce the appointment of Sean Bicknell as the new Race Series manager. Sean comes to us with a wealth of event management and organisation experience, gained during a varied career across a number of business sectors.
On top of this, and more importantly in our eyes, Sean is a true petrol head like the rest of us here at the 7 Race Series. He raced a Lotus Exige for many years in the Elise Trophy and has owned a Caterham 420R race car for the last five years or so. We are looking forward to Sean joining our team and helping us all push the 7 Race Series to new levels within UK Motorsport.
“I am very pleased to welcome Sean to the 7 Race Series” comments Andy McMillan. “Sean will be an asset to the race series, and I am looking forward to working with him in 2022.”
“This is a great opportunity to work with a fantastic group of drivers, and staff at the 7 Race series” adds Sean. “I am looking forward to continuing the good work from previous years, plus executing some new ideas we have, that will hopefully elevate the race series to an even higher level than it already has in the UK and European clubman racing scene.”
Sean will be based with the rest of the 7 Race Series team at McMillan Motorsport Ltd Hinckley headquarters. He can be reached on: E-Mail: Sean@mcmm.co.uk, Office: 01455 239900. Mobile: 07967 662294
Our traditional race season curtain closer took place at the former F1 venue of Estoril on the outskirts of Lisbon as our British racers were joined for a non-championship race by our Portuguese friends.
With a change in format with 2 heats and a final, grid positions for the first heat drawn from a hat it was all bets off for the separate races for 1600 and 420R cars.
Jonathan Mitchell took victory in both heats but a deluge sweeping the circuit before the start of the 420R final meant it was anyone’s for the taking. The Portuguese racers compete around the circuit numerous times over the year but usually in somewhat drier conditions! After 30 minutes it was Jonathan who took the overall victory with series returnee Adam Clarke the second UK registered driver in 6th and Mark Stansfield in 7th.
All 3 of the 1600 races were stunning to watch. With Luis Felipe Oliveira just taking the victory in heat 1 from Mark Roberts and Jay McCormack leading home a fabulous battle in race 2, it was an expectant audience that watched a scintillating final race.
As McCormack and Ben Winrow escaped at the front there was a 7 way scrap for 3rd which was eventually won by Tim Child after a battle that saw him, Roberts, John Shiveral, Michael O’Reilly, Oliver Gibson and Geoff Newman together and swapping positions for the full 30 minutes. All 7 were covered by just 1.1 seconds at the chequered flag… and not a wing missing!
And so our season comes to a very entertaining close and we’re finally back racing around our favourite circuits in Europe.
Thank you to all our fabulous drivers, the hardworking mechanics and the professional teams that race with us. We’ve loved having you in our paddock and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!
See here for more images -
The 2022 calendar for the 7 Race Series is coming together nicely. At the time of this article all dates are still provisional and there have been changes from the first draft we published a couple of weeks ago, but we are working hard with the circuit owners and race organisers to get it nailed down as fast as possible. The latest version of the 2022 calendar is below:
|Brands Hatch GP||30 April - 01 May||Championship|
|Snetterton 300||11-12 June||Championship|
|Spa||23-26 June||EU Invitational|
|Silverstone GP||30-31 July||Championship|
|Oulton Park||27 August||Championship|
|Barcelona||9-10 September||Winter 'Fun in the Sun'|
|Monza||29-30 October||Winter 'Fun in the Sun'|
|Estoril||18-20 November||Winter 'Fun in the Sun'|
“It always takes time to get the race calendar set in stone” comments Andy McMillan. “The 7 Race Series has always strived to take it’s drivers to the biggest and best circuits that the UK and Europe has to offer and 2022 will be no different. We are working hard with MSVR to finalise our UK calendar, the circuits are chosen, we are firm on those, we are just zeroing in on specific dates. We are also getting really close with our European invitational events, we have long established relationships with our European partners and we are excited for what we will be offering in 2022”
“A season opener at Donington park followed by the awesome Brands Hatch GP will make for a fantastic start to the 2022 campaign.” Says Sean Bicknell, 7 Race Series Manager. “With Snetterton 300 and Silverstone GP following up to make an excellent mid-season, then a UK season closer at Oulton Park to round off the campaign, we are looking forward to a very exciting 2022 UK championship” he continues, “If you then add into this, a European invitational round at Spa, then our Winter ‘Fun in the Sun’ events in Barcelona, Monza and Estoril, I genuinely believe we have the best calendar of any clubman race series in the UK”
The 7 Race Series is proud to release their new look website. Over the past couple of months, the 7 Race Series has undergone a ground up rebuild of their website in an effort to both update the look and feel and make it easier for drivers, teams and spectators to get the information they want in a quick, concise and easy to read format. The new site will be phased in over the next few weeks as more information gets added.
This initial launch shows our provisional calendar, allowing drivers to register for the 2022 series and pay for their annual membership. We have also included some information for new drivers on getting started with the series, plus a list of the approved race support teams that we encourage our drivers to use. All of the approved teams have years of experience working with Caterham’s and the 7 Race Series and we are confident that they will assist any new, or existing racer, to make the most of their race weekend.
Future updates will include a larger approved teams area, with more details and information on each of our race team partners. Details for every race weekend will all be in one place, in a format that will be easy to read on all devices, including race day timetable, drivers briefing notes, test day information, hotel and travel information etc. We will have a driver area with bio’s and interviews. Our gallery area will hold the latest photos and videos from our events. While our shop will grow to include all race entries and hospitality bookings, test day bookings plus merchandise and clothing etc.
“This is a great step forward for the profile of the 7 Race Series” commented Andy McMillan. “It allows us to get the information out to our drivers and teams in a timely manner and we are looking forward to watching the platform grow along with the race series” he added. Big thanks to Jake Saunders at Saunders Design for producing the new websites.