Startline OnLine
Main Startline Menu
Main Monoposto Menu
 

Champion Interview by email:Classic - Ben Cater


Ben Cater talks about winning the biggest of all Mono classes, Classic.

I've always fancied racing, and in 2007, at the age of 40, I realised that if I didn't get on with it, then it wasn't going to happen. So I signed up for motorbike racing - I did 2 years with the Triumph Triple Challenge and the second of those racing clubman supersport too before I realised that it was entirely possible that I'd get badly hurt. I'd managed to win a few races though and enjoyed it although bike racing was genuinely terrifying, so I changed to the much safer world of cars in 2009.

I was (probably badly) advised that car racing was all about slicks and wings, so I got a formula 4 car. It is really quite different racing cars compared to bikes, and it didn't help that someone put me in touch with a mechanic whose idea of car preparation was closer to other people's idea of sabotage! Due to that and also to family commitments, I only managed to do a couple of rounds per year, so I was pleased to get even close to a podium with the likes of Ollie Sirrell, Jonathon Weston Taylor and Robbie Watts and the other guys who have been doing it for years. My plans for a good year in 2012 bit the dust after my mechanic failed to get the car even vaguely ready for the first 2 rounds, and as I was wandering around Brands pits with no car at the circuit, I met Mono driver Lou Watts who suggested I contact Andy Cattani from Classic and Race. Andy agreed to put the car together, so I took the trailer full of bits to him and he put it together in time for the last F4 and final Mono rounds of 2012.

The feeling was that after such a dismal 2012, I'd better make 2013 a better year, and we decided to focus on Monoposto since the F4 championship looked in doubt after the 750MC had sold the name to MSV. So I invested £600 in a new 2 litre Ford Focus Zetec engine, which was much cheaper than getting the old engine refreshed. We got new (Quantum) shocks too, since the old ones turned out to be different lengths and one of them was actually seized! Andy did a great job of preparing the car over winter and it was quick right from the beginning of the season. I also got a data logger from Race Technology which was great in many respects although we never got it to give us any lap times until after the season had finished! A friend had a half baked plan to put a launch control system on the car - it would have been nice if that had worked out better. Actually it probably just needed a day's work setting up in the end, but it never happened. Shame really because I'm not too good at starting.

Andy Cattani ran me through the whole of the 2013 and I always had absolute confidence in the way the car was prepared. There is no way I could have prepped the car myself, I just don't have the skills! Plus, on race days, he brings his apprentice (and son) Tom Cattani and between them, they have managed to put the car back together after sustaining some nasty looking crash damage.

In the first round at Donington, we qualified 2nd on the grid amongst the Mono 2000s but one of my drive shafts snapped on the start line, and the car didn't move. I think that was probably the scariest moment of the season, as the whole grid howled past me - those last few cars are going really fast and they miss you by inches! The next day, in the second race, I was distracted by the pole man rolling off down the hill before the start lights changed, and I stalled the car on the line, like an idiot. That was the second most terrifying moment of the season, but it was one of the most enjoyable races once I got going, and went from being last to finish 4th in class.

We did well at the twistier tracks such as Donington and Oulton, where it was satisfying mixing it with the Mono 2000 cars. I think my most satisfying meeting was at Oulton Park. The weather was lovely, and we had a great time testing on the Friday until I had a little spin at the chicane after putting a wheel on the grass. I broke a rear wheel upright and we didn't have a spare one so it looked like we were going home without getting to race. But the other Mono competitors all helped out, looked for the parts that were needed, and although no one had exactly the right thing, we managed to get it all together using a variety of people's spares and some inspirational thinking from Andy Waters (AW Tracksport) after a couple of beers. So just getting out on race day was very special, only to be made even better by racking up a 2nd and a 3rd (and 2 class wins) in the races. In fact Oulton has to be my favourite circuit - the combination of the history of the place, the beautiful park, and flowing fast track make it hard to beat.

I think the Oulton race is a good example of the spirit of Mono. More than once through the season, I've needed some small part that we just didn't have with us, and another competitor has helped us out. It's great to be racing with such a good bunch of people with an excellent spirit of camaraderie. Plus the race day organisation is excellent, the tracks are good, so all in all, it's where I want to race in 2014.

If money was no object, of course, I'd like to have a go at top level formula racing! But I'd also love to race sports cars, especially classic 60's and 70's ones. They just look so pretty, and evocative of their era, plus I'd imagine they are really involving to drive.

"I'd also love to race sports cars, especially classic 60's and 70's ones." Lola T70, E-Type and Ferrari 512M, 412P and Abarth. Together, these cars are worth more than Simon Davey's Astra van, incredible though that may be.



Would I have done anything different? Yes, I'd have just watched the last round at Snetterton rather than trying to take part! But I also feel I've learned a lot from 2013 - it's the first season when I've done most of the races, and I feel like I'm a slightly wiser racer having ben through that. Let's hope I remember the lessons when I put on my Arai in 2014....

I'd like to thank Andy Cattani from Classic and Race for being so reliable and conscientious. It's certainly true to say that I'd have had a very different season if I didn't have him there to prep the car and to put it back together when I bent it!

 

Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.

     

 

Test day at Donington

A picture of Ben on his Triumph Triple racebike. Note that race number 82 carries over to Mono.

Ok, that's another entry for 2030 sorted then.....

Snetterton repairs begin

The distinctive fin is visible in this picture.