Caterham Graduates Racing Club
- 1 History
- 2 Racing
- 3 Car Specifications
- 4 Affordability and Technical Support
- 5 Race Numbers
- 6 2013 Racing Calendar
- 7 Champions
- 8 Sponsors
- 9 Website and Facebook fan page
- 10 References
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.
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.
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. Each class generally races on a separate grid, the exception being races held at Spa-Francorchamps, where all classes start together on a 65-car grid. 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.
The cars in the series are genuinely road-going, although Mega 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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
2013 Racing Calendar
- 1: Sat 6 April Pembrey
- 2: Sun 7 April Pembrey
- 3: Sat 27 April Silverstone Grand Prix circuit
- 4: Sun 28 April Silverstone Grand Prix circuit
- 5: Mon 27 May Oulton Park
- 6: Mon 27 May Oulton Park
- 7: Sat 16 June Castle Combe
- 8: Sun 17 June Castle Combe
- 9: Sat 29 June Brands Hatch
- 10: Sun 30 June Brands Hatch
- 11: Sat 17 Aug Donington Park
- 12: Sun 30 June Donington Park
- 13: Sat 7 Sept Cadwell Park
- 14: Sun 8 Sept Cadwell Park
- 15: Sat 28 Sept Spa-Francorchamps
- 16: Sun 29 Sept Spa-Francorchamps
2013 SigMax Champion was Jeremy Webb, Mega Graduate Champion was Jamie Ellwood, again. The Super Graduates Championship was won by Dylan Stanley, Sigma Graduates was won by Amanda Black, and Classic Graduates Champion was Graham Smith.
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 - the first woman to win a one-make Caterham championship, and twice winner of the Lord Wakefield trophy. 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, and the Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra in the 2011 British Touring Car Championship
- 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, and now races in the Caterham R300 championship.
The series is run in association with McMillan Motorsport. About a dozen or so other companies have their branding across each of the 100-plus racecars, and on the club's website www.graduates.org.uk.
Relatively few of the drivers have individual sponsors, although this is permitted.
Website and Facebook fan page
The club has a very comprehensive website, www.graduates.org.uk, with race results, championship tables, lap records, new joiner information, merchandise, sponsorship information, and a discussion forum.
It also has its own fan page on Facebook
- Nick Frost, Chairman, Caterham Graduates Racing Club
- http://www.bwrdc.co.uk/events/nailcotehall2008.htm British Women Racing Drivers Club
- - www.graduates.org.uk - official website of the Caterham Graduates Racing Club