Jonathan Gibbs’ life revolves cars. When he’s not working for Ford as an engineer, he can usually be found either in his garage working on his Caterham R300 or Clio Cup racer, or at a track day blowing away the cobwebs. And when it comes to fluids, there’s only one brand Jonathan trusts to keep his cars in tip-top condition. Motul.
Caterham racer: “Normally you have to change the gearbox oil every hour”
Jonathan, tell us more about your Caterham build
I used to race Caterhams in the Magnificent Sevens championship. I stopped that a couple of years ago. Around that time, I started building this red R300 car that I have now, which has taken about a year to build. I bought it as a race car when I was racing. After I stopped, I basically built it using all the spares that I had for racing.
Have you started racing again or do you use the car for track days?
Since I stopped racing, I’ve just been upgrading the car and doing track days. I’ve also taken it to the Nürburgring three times. The first time was just after I’d built it. Last year was the first time I took it on a trailer. Before that, I’d always driven it there. I’m going to trailer it from now on [laughs].
What’s it like driving a Caterham from the UK to the Nürburgring?
It’s such hard work driving it there. It’s loud and doesn’t have much room (of course, it’s worth it when you get there!). It also always seems to rain when I’m driving there.
As we’ve seen on Instagram, you’ve been using Motul in your car. Why did you choose Motul and what sort of difference do you think it makes to the performance and reliability?
Yes, I used Motul for years on my race car for the sequential box. And then on this car I’ve used it for the gearbox, too. I think it just makes the gearbox last a bit longer. The longevity of it seems a lot better than other fluids I’ve tried. When you take the gearbox apart, you can actually see the lubricant coated to all the gears, whereas with other fluids it doesn’t really stick and just runs off. Normally you have to change the gearbox oil every hour or so, but with Motul it seems like we can get away with running it a bit longer, maybe for three or four hours.
What do you do when you’re not racing and tinkering on your Caterham?
I’m a software engineer working on the Ford Transit. I’ve been doing that for 13 years. I’ve also got a Clio Cup that I found in a barn and rebuilt, that I also use for track days.
How’s this year looking for you?
We’re going to the Nürburgring again in September, and then the normal track days in the UK. I might do a few sprints and hill climbs as well. But it really depends on Covid-19. A lot of track days have been cancelled already and all the tracks are shut until lockdown ends.
What’s your favourite UK track?
I’d probably say brands Hatch GP circuit. It’s a really fast track, flowing and undulating, and it tests everything from the handling to the speed.