Zolder joy for Championship leader Mortimer

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Farnsfield driver Jon Mortimer had a successful weekend when he travelled to Zolder in Belgium for the latest European round of the Avon Tyres Caterham Supersport Championship.

Following on from a fantastic weekend at his local circuit Donington Park last month, Mortimer, in his Chapelle Jewellery-sponsored Caterham, stormed his way to two second places to lead the overhaul Championship.

The former Belgian F1 Circuit of Zolder greeted the Caterham Motorsports drivers with hot, humid and wet weather.

A long race weekend started on the Thursday with a full day of testing in slippery conditions as the drivers tackled the track, many of them for the first time, and at the end of the day Mortimer topped the timing sheets.

As a result of noise restrictions Friday testing was only permitted in the afternoon and by this time the weather had changed significantly. The track was dry with temperatures reaching towards 30 degrees.

This in itself caused problems for drivers with engine power decreasing due to working out of their optimum temperature.

Together with his DPR Motorsports Support team, Mortimer found a good car set up, proving to be strong throughout the course of the afternoon, and completed the day at the top of the timing sheets once more.

A 20 minute qualifying session on Saturday afternoon saw Mortimer set out strong from the outset and, having found suitable track positioning, immediately posted the fastest lap of qualifying, ensuring a pole position start for race one later that afternoon, with DPR team mates James Robinson, Graham Johnson and Matt Dyer taking second to fourth places respectively.

As the drivers took to the grid for race one, the temperature had also heated up in anticipation of a great race.

Mortimer made a great start and led into the first corner with team mate Robinson close behind.

The pair worked together, concentrating on putting in some fast lap times early on in an attempt to break away from the rest of the field.

By midway in the race they were some four seconds clear of the third-placed driver.

The temperature on track had already taken its fair share of casualties, with a number of cars overheating and having to retire from the race and Mortimer was attempting to keep his engine temperature as low as possible.

Both Mortimer and Robinson continued to race closely and fairly, lapping back markers in the process and, as they passed the line for the last lap, Robinson was leading.

But Mortimer had a better run through Sterrenwacht and then Lucien Bianchi corners, allowing him to pass Robinson into the chicane.

Unfortunately he locked the left front tyre on braking into the chicane, causing him to have to ‘pinch’ a little more kerb than is allowed.

Knowing that he would be penalised for this, Mortimer immediately gave the position back to Robinson and had to settle for second place as they crossed the line just 0.3secs apart.

Mortimer’s disappointment at his slight mistake on the last lap was somewhat eased when he was informed he had gained an extra championship point and new lap record for the fastest lap of the race.

A front row on the grid for race two and in position two alongside winner of race one and team mate Robinson, Mortimer knew this would be no easy race.

Jon got the better start and led Robinson into the first corner. It was, however, Danny Killeen who squeezed through on the inside line to take the lead into turn two, with Mortimer hot on his heels.

On lap four yellow flags were being waved between turns nine and 10 due to a stranded vehicle, which seriously restricted overtaking opportunities, and on lap six Jon was overtaken through this area by then third place driver Clive Richards, while yellow flags signalling no overtaking were being waved.

By lap seven Mortimer found himself in second place after Killeen outbraked himself into Bolderberbocht and ran wide into the gravel trap. Clive Richards was ahead of him on track and on lap 11 Mortimer retook the lead into turn two.

By lap 13 a spectacular battle began for the lead as Robinson joined Mortimer and Richards and, as the chequered flag was waved, Mortimer finished second behind Richards.

So a very hot and physically demanding race weekend at Zolder saw Mortimer still leading the Caterham Supersports Championship with 117 points from Robinson with 115 once dropped scores were taken into consideration.

Next round sees the action head to Rockingham over the weekend of 12th and 13th July.