10th October 2004

Jon Barnes was crowned the 2004 Autosport Caterham Eurocup Champion on Saturday (9th October) following a pair of crowd-thrilling Caterham Festival races at Brands Hatch.

Barnes took the Eurocup R400 title by the narrowest possible margin. Indeed the Southampton 21-year-old finished the season level-pegging on points with his title rival Clive Richards. Clive won both Brands rounds to bring his tally of race wins level with Barnes at five, and as each driver had also claimed four second places the title-deciding tie-breaker was that Barnes had scored two thirds to Richards' one.

"It couldn't have been much closer," said Team Parker Racing driver Barnes. "It's just so great to get a reward for all the hard work that the team and my family has put into the season." Barnes is looking to follow up his success with a switch to the new Cosworth Caterham Masters for 2005, or a GT championship drive.

Richards' progress to victory in both Festival Euro races was masterful but far from easy... In race one, Barnes sped into the lead at the Druids hairpin from third on the grid, past pole sitter Luc Paillard and his fellow front row driver Oliver Bull, and held on to a slender lead for six laps. "I tried to get away because I knew that if Clive caught and passed me he'd try to bottle me up and help the others push me down the order," said Jon. "But I couldn't stay ahead for long."

Barnes predicted Richards' gameplan exactly, and Jon was soon pushed down to fourth behind Bull and Paillard as Richards started to make his getaway. By the time Barnes had managed to regain second spot, Richards was already three seconds up the road.

Barnes knew that second place would be enough to secure his crown, so concentrated on staying ahead of Paillard rather than closing down Richards. Bull had by this time dropped from the fray, hauled into the pits by a zealous marshal to have a flailing front wing removed.

Richards crossed the line 4.8 seconds clear of Barnes to clinch the Euro teams championship title for Colards Motorsport, with Paillard third and Simon Lambert getting the better of a race-long battle with Mark Humphrey for fourth. An on-form Steve Knox was sixth behind Humphrey, with David Knox seventh ahead of the battling Jamie Constable, David Dyson and Mike Cantillon.

Sarah Reader posted her first non-finish of the season after a collision with the spinning Gerry Taylor, his incident the result of an earlier tangle with the car of Rachel Green; Rachel was able to continue to 12th.

With Barnes absent from the final-round grid (Jon saving his car for Powertrain R400 Challenge battle), Richards might have thought himself clear to dominate. Instead he found himself under threat on two fronts, firstly from Steve Knox, who shot through from sixth on the grid and on to his tail, and then for the final two-thirds of the race from Paillard.

Luc harried Clive mercilessly but managed to edge past only the once, into Druids with four laps to run. Clive repassed the Sevenoaks-based Frenchman the following lap and held on to win by a margin of eight-hundredths. "He is a hard man to beat, Clive," said Paillard. "He makes no mistakes! I had one thing left I wanted to try on the last lap, but they messed up the lap count-down board and I missed my chance..."

Richards was delighted to have claimed twin wins: "It's been a great year and I have really enjoyed battling with Jon. He's a very deserving champion."

Humphrey ended his season on a high note with third; Mark had kept in close contact with the leaders for much of the race until his tyres had given of their best. Tom Ferrier upheld Team Parker honours with fourth spot, ahead of Steve Knox, Cantillon, Lambert, Bull, Green and Taylor. Constable had looked certain of sixth but spun away his chances on the final lap after a do-or-die attack on Steve Knox; Jamie recovered to 11th.

2004 Autosport Caterham Eurocup
Provisional final championship placings
R400 class
1 Jon Barnes (Southampton), 189 points; five wins / 4xsecond / 2xthird
2 Clive Richards (Itchingfield), 189; five wins / 4xsecond / 1xthird
3 Simon Lambert (Welwyn), 164
4 Mark Humphrey (Burnham), 159
5 Oliver Bull (Portishead), 156
6 Mike Cantillon (Arkley), 127, etc



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