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CAT : Academy Events
TAGS : Caterham, Academy, Seminar
LINK : Tor, Alex, Demon Tweeks
50-odd blokes descended on Caterham Midlands yesterday for the "2012 Academy Seminar", which could alternatively have been dubbed "Everything You Wanted To Know About The 2012 Academy But Were Too Afraid To Ask".
For me, this also gave a chance for a really long run in the 7, two hours there and two back adding 200 miles to the 7's tally and taking it to 400 miles... close to the 500 at which I can get rid of the running-in oil and put the proper Motorsport stuff in there instead. I seemed to be the only 7 in the carpark, though!
The run was useful to start getting the hang of the car. It is really quite different to any other that I driven, mainly due to the lack of space inside (perhaps I should slim down a bit?) and the very low driving position. The wing mirror positions were very wrong, and (frustratingly) can't be adjusted as you drive due to the harnesses and the sidescreens being in the way. The hood is also a necessity in this weather; I tried to make progress without it but found there was a cold breeze over the windscreen to my forehead. Although the temperature was bearable, I could see that giving me a headache so pulled over to put the roof up. I'm glad I specified that.
Once at Caterham Midlands, we signed in and found out what our race numbers were - I've been allocated 11, as I asked. I'm pleased about that, it is part of the 911 number that first got me onto a racetrack, and it is nice and distinctive at a distance - so if it is waved from a pit wall I stand a small chance of realising it is for me...
We then met the people who will (I suspect) form a major part of our lives for the next year. 50 or so competitors were mingling, and I quickly found Tor, Pete and Alex; Tor and Alex have been blogging their builds and I would suggest you go and read those too (links are provided), and Pete had kindly given Tor a lift to Leicester. We had arranged for me to get Tor home, but it turned out that another competitor lived in the same village so it made more sense for Tor to have a lift back with him instead.
We also met Simon, Caterham Motorsport Manager, Jenny, the Academy Coordinator whose words we apparently must from now on ALWAYS READ and OBEY, and Nick the dealer principal at Caterham Midlands who seemed to know everything possible about the cars. Their pictures are included, although I'm not sure they'll all thank me for that!
They gave us a run-through of what awaits; we will be going to Castle Combe for our ARDS tests, to Silverstone for a handling day, and then back to Combe for an Academy-only test day. We will also be back at Caterham Midlands to be taught how to set up our cars - i.e. tweak the suspension and so on to how we want it.
Then, the competition starts. Our sprints will be at Aintree, then Curburough, then Snetterton (the infield section, Snetterton 100). Our circuit races are still being organised but are expected to be Donington (yay!), Brands Hatch, Snetterton and Rockingham. Should be fun.
Demon Tweeks were also there; I suspect they will do nicely out of us, I will certainly be trying to get up to Wrexham to see them sometime soon. Their product range and service sounds very good, and the contact there is a former Academy racer so knows what we actually need.
Lunch was a buffet in a perfect venue - the Caterham Midlands workshop with two Academy cars there, looking nearly finished. I wonder if anyone recognised their own?
After lunch, there were talks from REIS insurance to cheer us up (!) and from PRG trailers.
Questions flowed throughout the day, and it was reassuring to hear how knowledgeable the Caterham team were, and how commonsensical is their approach to things.
Then home, and a chance for more practice in the 7.
Today, I've looked over the car again in the light of yesterday's information, and tweaked the mirrors and the pedal stops. I've also measured my height in the seat with a helmet, and suspect I might need to replace it with the moulded bag seat. Without my helmet I fit nicely, but with one on I can clonk my head on one of the bars - not ideal.
I've also looked at the running-in, and have decided to try and put another 100 miles on it tomorrow or Tuesday to get it to the magic 500 at which I should change the oil. Then, using the Caterham Motorsport oil that I have just ordered online, I can change the oil on Wednesday before I set off towards Oulton Park for Friday. Fingers crossed everything falls together for that - I've left it a bit late to think about it.
We also had to pop out to the supermarket, so I took the chance to prove what a practical family car the 7 really is - three bags of shopping fitted nicely in the passenger footwell!
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28/11/2011 22:09:53: patently
28/11/2011 21:30:02: Albert
50-odd blokes descended on Caterham Midlands
You said it!