Taste of top class for Jon

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After the successful trip to Zolder last month Farnsfield’s Jon Mortimer travelled the comparatively short distance to Rockingham for rounds seven and eight of the Avon Tyres Caterham Supersport Championship.

Mortimer came to Rockingham leading the overhaul Championship with 117 points and hoping to carry on where he left off at the former Belgian F1 Circuit.

The weekend at Rockingham was to be somewhat different to a normal race weekend for Jon.

Not only was he competing in the Supersports class but he had also been invited by Caterham to have a guest drive in the Superlight R300 class for the weekend, the Superlight R300 class being the top Caterham Championship, in much faster cars and a big honour for Jon to be the guest driver.

Taking to the track first thing Saturday morning for 20 minutes qualifying in his Chapelle Jewellery-sponsored car, Jon set about trying to bank a good lap for the afternoon’s race. Unfortunately Jon struggled to find a good position on track and, when on a fast lap, he was baulked by slower cars trying to set themselves up for a good lap. As a result of this at the end of the 20 minute session Jon found himself in a disappointing fourth place on the grid.

Competing in two different classes of race was always going to be a challenge for Mortimer, but in his usual true style he was determined to do his best.

After a brief respite before taking to the track for qualifying in the Superlight R300, Jon knew this was going to be a struggle, having only spent 20 minutes in the car previously and the difference between the Supersports and R300 is known to be immense.

However, Jon managed a very respectable ninth place in qualifying, ahead of many racers with years of experience in that class.

Race one of the Supersports saw the lights go out for the start and Mortimer got a good start, and by turn one he was up in to third position.

After the impressive start Jon began to suffer with poor traction on the rear of the car and Tarzan hairpin on lap one saw Jon slip back down to fourth place behind Clive Richards and then down to fifth on the exit of Dene.

Jon then commenced a frantic fight with fourth place ahead and those behind him, ultimately crossing the line in fifth place - the first time Jon has failed to finish on the podium this season.

Jon was next on track in the Caterham Superlight R300. A poor start getting used to the very different clutch and gearbox saw Jon slip to 12th position before entering turn one Dene Hairpin.

The steep learning curve then continued as Jon started to explore and comprehend the characteristics of the R300 car and, through the 30-minute race, this learning saw him climb to and finish in eighth position, beating the driver currently sitting in fourth place in the championship and only one place behind Caterham test driver Jon Barnes - a brilliant performance after only 20 minutes of testing the car prior to racing.

A very different Sunday morning greeted the drivers, the scorching weather of Saturday seemed a distant memory and car set up had many drivers and teams making last minute decisions.

As Jon formed up in the holding area ready for race two in his Supersports car the track was wet but the sun was showing signs of making an appearance.

The expectation was that the track would continue to dry and, although a dry set up would be a challenge initially, it was expected to improve throughout the race.

A disappointing start saw Jon forced down onto the slippery inside line and down to ninth place before turn one. Then on lap three the weather dealt another blow, with heavy rain starting to fall.

A treacherous 25 minutes of racing ensued with visibility being hampered by the heavy rain and spray, and many drivers spinning out of control.

Jon managed to keep his cool and crossed the line in a disappointing but safe and undamaged seventh position.

All in all it was a good weekend still for Jon, proving his skill behind the wheel of a R300 as well as his usual two races in Supersports.

Mortimer still leads the Avon Tyres Caterham Supersport Championship with 177 points, one point ahead of James Robinson, Matt Dyer is third with 166 points

The next round sees the action head to Brands Hatch this weekend.

Editorial by Paul Horton

Images by SnappyRacers.com