On Saturday I went up to Caterham Midlands for a seminar on the Academy with my fellow 2012 Academics. It was a fantastic day and a great opportunity to meet many of the guys that I will be racing with throughout 2012.....they are a diverse, but great group, united by a shared passion. It was fascinating to compare build stories with those that are building their cars and share our fears as well as excitement for the year ahead. If truth be told I think we were also starting to eye each other up and work out who our main competition was going to be :-)
The Caterham team did a fantastic job of giving us an idea of what to expect from the year and answering all of our questions, no matter how silly (do we have to bring our own brolly girls? being the best). The highlight for me was having a couple of the guys from the 2011 Academy come and talk us through their experiences. What was absolutely clear was that it had been a great experience for them and that they had formed some fantastic friendships along the way. It was really apparent that they had caught the racing bug badly and were looking forward to their 2012 season.
We had presentations from Book a Track on track days and tuition, REIS on Insurance, PRG on trailers and Demon Tweaks on race wear. These were all really useful, but also highlighted how much money there is still to spend getting ready for next year. I hadn't even considered things like Hans devices for my helmet, but it became clear that it is something that I should really consider. However if I do go for a Hans device I also need to get my seatbelt mounts modified at the chassis manufacturer, for yet more expenditure in time and cost. At least I now know what I need to do between now and the first sprint in March and that I need to prioritise the key decisions. First off.....what colour race suit do I go for (as Simon said on Saturday, if you aren't winning, you need to be looking good!).
Today I got an e-mail from Caterham saying that my car had failed its IVA on a seatbelt issue. Being confused and slightly concerned as to exactly what the problem was, I phoned Kate at Caterham Dartford and she told me that the seatbelt buckle was faulty (a manufacturing issue) and that it needed to be replaced under warranty. Later that day I got a call to say that they had fixed it and put it in for a re-test, which it had passed. I have to say I am really glad I decided to get Caterham to put the car through for me, as it saved me the time and cost of taking time out for two tests as well as getting the faulty part fixed, which would likely have taken me several weeks in elapsed time and a couple of days out of work....it really was money well spent!
I am obviously delighted and am now itching to pick the car up and get driving as soon as possible. Caterham are also doing the registration for me and if the DVLA are on top form there is a chance I might be able to pick her up on Saturday. I really do hope so as I started this journey over a year ago when my wife and little girls came down to Caterham with me to put the deposit down on the car as a birthday present (the photos below are of that day and are where I got the idea for the colour scheme for my car). The waiting has been painful at times, but as they say....good things come to those that wait....and I have done enough waiting :-)