Grid full – that’s the pit signal Caterham Motorsport is hanging out to prospective competitors in next year’s Caterham Academy, the race training championship.

For with nine months to go before the start of the 2004 season Caterham has sold all 56 places in the championship, a record performance even by the high standards of the extremely popular Academy.

"We’re used to seeing the Academy fill up well before the start of the season," said Caterham Cars managing director Simon Nearn, "but to have sold out by the end of July is unheard of. It just goes to prove that no matter what problems motor sport faces nationally and internationally at the higher levels, there is no shortage of people who want to take it up and learn the right way to go racing."

The Caterham Academy offers the budding racer unique value. The cost to compete next season is just £15,950, which includes a road-legal 1.6-litre Caterham Roadsport to keep, track licence exam, training seminars and all event and championship fees. Competitors get to sample hillclimbing, three sprint events and three circuit races.

"It’s an exceptional price," says Nearn, "and fantastic value for the would-be racer. It’s little wonder that we are now full for 2004 and already have some names down for ’05."

An added attraction for would-be Academy entrants is that once they have completed their introductory season they can then move on with their car to one of the many club-level championships organised for the Caterham 7. Many progress further: 2001 Academy champion John Gaw is now a frontrunner in the Powertrain Caterham R400 Challenge, while 1997 Academy winner Richard Hay has gone on to compete at Le Mans.

The Caterham Academy attracts an eclectic mix of people and professions: this year’s intake includes a brace of barristers, a blacksmith, a jeweller, several City traders, a scientist, an advertising executive and a music industry exec, as well as two evo journalists. In 2001 the Academy attracted its first vicar, the Rev Bob Mackrill; his son, Robert, plans to follow in his father’s wheeltracks through the Academy next season.

The championship enjoys the backing of evo magazine, Arch Motors, Bilstein, Brian James Trailers, Cheesman Products, Cooper-Avon Tyres, The Finance Partnership and Titan Motorsport.

Published : 04/08/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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