Category Archives: Caterham Academy

Plus Four Engineering’s foray into competitive racing

Curborough Sprint


SR_J1934The second, and last, sprint. After reflecting on Aintree for a month, I went in with a different approach. We were only afforded a single practice run and two timed runs. With two hours in between each run, I put my previous experience to work.

I used my practice run as just that, drove it at seven tenths, looking for all the apexes and made sure it was all on film. Equipped with laptop and 230V inverter, I spent the next two hours revisiting the footage, to etch it into my brain.

SR_J1932When I went for my first timed run, it was more familiar, and I was pleased to put in a 68.86, which left me sitting fourth.  My second run wasn’t so good however, and knowing that I’d fluffed it, I show-boated for the crowd and called it a day. It was frustrating to watch a couple of faster times come through, and see myself slip down to sixth, but I came away a lot happier, knowing that I’d done everything I could, and that the “system” had worked SR_J1923for me.

For a very brief moment, I thought “I could get into sprinting…..” But with wheel to wheel racing just 4 weeks away, it didn’t last long.

Enjoy the footage 🙂

Aintree Sprint


So, this is it. The first competition points available. It’s sprinting, which is not really what any of us signed up for, but a good way of breaking would-be racing drivers into the season. Aintree is, essentially, just 3 corners, with a reasonable straight between each. The benefit is that fluffing one corner doesn’t need to dramatically ruin your entry to the next, aside from the loss of speed.

SR_J2805Sprinting is clearly a very particular discipline, and one that I didn’t appear to get homed in on at Aintree.

There were two practice runs, and three timed runs, and it was difficult to know what to do between them. The advice I had been given was to visualise the run, but being unfamiliar with the course, this was hard to do.

One of my mistakes was to not treat the practice runs as just that. The temptation to really go for it on the first attempt is huge, and I succumbed. As a result I overcooked the first corner and took it broadside. I kept it on the black stuff and had plenty of time to regain composure for the next two corners.

SR_J2802Of the timed runs, I put in a 54:39, which was a good banker, but I couldn’t improve on it. On my last run I repeated the mistake of the first practice run and drifted the first corner. Even so, a 54:41 was recorded. I’ve wondered ever since what my time would have been without stuffing up that first corner.

I came away with 8th and a sense that I could have done better, if I’d had a better idea of how to approach sprinting……..

First Test Day – Castle Combe

SR_J5941Included in the Caterham package, is a test day. This was the first chance to get the car on a circuit. A good opportunity to get a feel for it, and to actually do some “testing”. There’s not a lot you can play with within the regs, but tyre pressures and geometry are options, so we played with pressures. The car is great to play with on track, and incredibly SR_J8241engaging and raw. 125BHP goes a long way in something the size of a roller skate! As fun as it is to drive on the road, a motor racing circuit lets you really explore it.

We were blessed with ideal weather conditions, and split into grouped sessions. Being reasonably familiar with Castle Combe, the day was really focused on getting familiarised with the car on circuit. Without the grunt and rockhard suspension of the MX5, carrying speed is key, as well as smoothness.  Both skills that need to be developed and worked on!

Caterham Handling Day


The first taste of competition. Caterham lay on a day where competitors get some tuition in standing starts, and chucking the cars around some cones, as well as a taste of scrutineering.

Held at Donington circuit, SR_J2085the first half of the day is spent in groups focusing on the different disciplines, with the latter part of the day in a small sprint competition around a course laid out with cones.

Although it doesn’t count towards the series, I was overjoyed to come third, and have a taste of the podium!


ARDS test


To be a racing driver, you need a race licence! And that’s what this day  was all about. By this point Caterham have done a great job of instilling all the information required to pass. In principle, all that is now required is to sit an exam (including questions on flags – for which there is no room for error!), and to drive an instructor round Castle Combe circuit without throwing it off the tarmac.


The day was split into four quarters, with groups rotating through four activities. As well as the written exam and the driving assessment, Caterham had also arranged a session on the skid pan, as well as instruction on preparing the car for competition.


Caterham Build Weekend – All The Gory Detail!

So, here it is. Finally pulled a finger out and put the final edit together, including my whining every 60 minutes.

The challenge had been to get it built in 24hrs, a target that was missed by 8 hours! In our defence there were a few “creative” entries in the build manual, as well as an engine mount that was simply not right (see below). Also, having a diff dropped on you from 5 feet does quite a bit to dent your enthusiasm! 😀

2015-11-19 09.41.03
Spot the difference!


Plus Four Engineering Sponsorship Opportunities

The Series – Caterham Academy

1c982126c9e760110cff1d38bb263670-mediumJust before Christmas in 2014, I paid a visit to the Caterham showroom in Crawley, Sussex, to discuss my hopes of pushing Plus Four Engineering Ltd into competitive motorsport.

7f42e9e123cebeae0eeb7ef359be6039-mediumAlmost a year to the day later, and we have a built Caterham, ready to be put on the road, and a place in the 2016 Caterham Academy.  Caterham run a number of series, of which the Academy is just the first. With selected coverage on Motors TV, the Academy Series consists of 2 sprints and 5 race weekends and is only open to new race licence holders. With tightly regulated vehicles, and no drivers with previous competitive experience, the series is as level a playing field as possible.


The Driver – Nick Grahame

Nick in his 4.0 V8 MX5

I’m about as seasoned on track as can be for a new race licence holder, experienced withNick in his track prepped Nissan 200SX track / race spec’ed cars as both a driver and mechanic. Coming from a family of race andadmin-ajax championship winners (David Grahame – Lotus Seven, Chris Grahame – Porsche 924 Autosport mar 1998Renault 5 Turbo, Porsche 924), and being familiar with driving most of the major circuits in the UK I am well placed to be2015-12-27 20.23.17competitive. With an extensive test, tuition and practice schedule throughout the season I am confident in my chances of success for 2016.

The Opportunity – Sponsorship

Plus Four Engineering are now offering sponsorship opportunities for interested parties. Aside from the more obvious “stickers on car for cash”, we’re more interested in working creatively with partners to devise solutions which are still beneficial for both parties.

There are opportunities for those who are looking to simply get up close to motoracing. For others it might be a branding opportunity. Plus4E are working with competitors in other classes and disciplines to create a wider brand on which to “piggy back”.01175_Blatters Final Brand Identity Artwork-red-blackPlus Four Engineering have secured an agreement with (set up by the founder of Pistonheads) to promote their presence in the Caterham Academy, and to use their platform as a mechanism to publicise Plus4E’s involvement in the 2016 season. This opens up a secondary vehicle to those looking to use our racing as a channel to their customers.

Plus Four Engineering, aside from looking for assistance to fund the 2016 entry, are similarly looking for branding opportunities. Does your business have a platform from which to publicise Plus4E’s activities both on and off circuit?

What can Plus Four Engineering racing offer?

  • Branding on the car – one race or the whole season
  • Branding in the car – cameras are now mandatory, and Plus4E will be broadcasting in-car footage across all its channels
  • Branding on clothing – race suits, t-shirts
  • Time in the car – as a passenger or even driving!
  • Promotion of your brand through other sponsors
  • Promotion of your business through Plus4E channels
  • Display at events
  • Public speaking
  • Tickets to events

If any of these opportunities (or you can think of others that are not covered here), then please contact us using the form below.