Another highly anticipated championship was next up as the resident Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship formed on the grid. On pole Russell Akers in his uprated Vauxhall Astra from Tony Hutchings in his turbocharged Audi TT. Off the line it was pole man Akers who made a bad start as Hutchings in 2nd and the giant slaying little Peugeot 106 GTI of Adrian Slade flew off the line from 2nd and 5th. After his initial rocket getaway it was inevitable that soon Slade would drop down the field again as the more powerful cars re-took him. For the lead three it was traffic that was keeping Hutchings, Akers and Charles-Hyde-Andrews-Bird in his Renault Megane close together up front through the middle portion of the race.
The drama started on lap 10 however as first Akers passed Hutchings for the lead on the inside at the Esses, yet his lead didn’t last long as at the very next corner at Old Paddock he ran wide onto the grass dropping himself to a distant 4th. This appeared to settle the battle in Hutchings favour yet on the final lap inexplicably Bird in his Megane rapidly closed on Hutchings forcing him to defend the final few corners to hang onto his win in what was a far from easy almost lights to flag win. Bird did well in his first Class A race to finish 2nd from Class B winner Mark Wyatt in a distant 3rd.
Race 7 was the second of the Mini 7’s 10 lap dashes with the grid being set from drivers second fastest qualifying times. Therefore it was no surprise to see race 1 winner Andrew Deviny all alone on pole as second man Gareth Hunt was unable to fix his car from earlier. As the lights went out it was Deviny and third man Ross Billison that made the best starts as the field set off. The drivers had barely got into their stride before the Safety Car was out on lap 2 after S class race 1 victor Ian Deviny went off at Tower. The Safety Car finally pulled in on lap 6 at which point Deviny made a blinder of a getaway to restore his previous lead.
His lead didn’t last long however as Darren Thomas and Ashley Davies challenged Deviny for the lead on the outside at Bobbies on lap 7 in remarkable moves for both of them as they carried on their duel by swapping the lead plenty of times between laps 7 and 9. The real excitement was to be provided on the final lap however as Davies tried a last lap lunge going into Camp corner which tagged Thomas and sent Davies spinning off as the pack behind ducked and dived their way through. Through the drama came Darren Thomas to claim the victory from Andrew Deviny in 2nd and Spencer Wanstall in 3rd.
The second of the Lancaster Insurance MGOC races was up next with again second fastest qualifying times setting the grid. It seemed logical therefore that the front row was the same as race 1 with Ben Palmer on pole and Lee Sullivan alongside. Lee Sullivan matched his good start from race 1 this time around as he challenged for the lead going into Quarry. The action started here as Andrew Rogerson in 3rd spun at Quarry after possible contact from Sullivan, leaving Rogerson with a mountain to climb as he re-joined 14th.
Similarly to race 1 Palmer opened a big gap to the rest early on from Gary Smith this time in 2nd. Mirroring race 1 again the excitement was provided by a race long battle between Gary Smith in 2nd, Lee Sullivan in 3rd and Fergus Campbell in 4th. The battle was only disturbed by Campbell who made an error at Quarry and dropped to 5th on lap 9. In a race that largely mirrored race 1 it was Ben Palmer that took a double win from Castle Combe with Gary Smith 2nd this time from Lee Sullivan in 3rd.
The penultimate race of the day was for the Castle Combe Sports & GT championship in it’s new guise for 2014. With only GT cars allowed we saw ex-saloons racer Barry Squibb take pole in his monstrous Mitsubishi Evo 9 with Keith Dunn and his Caterham C400 alongside him. It was no surprise that at the start Squibb rocketed away with his 4wd system and immense power allowing him to shoot away into and early lead as behind him third man Nick Holden’s beefy Toyota GT86 struggled off the line.
The rest of the race provided entertainment as Squibb and Dunn battled for the lead in a classic racing case of David vs Goliath. Behind them the rest of the field were left for dead with the only other real drama being the initial surge from Adam Prebble in his Rover 220 Turbo which went from 13th- 6th in the opening 4 laps before pulling off with car issues, likewise Nick Holden and his magnificent sounding Toyota GT86 a few laps from the end. Barry Squibb held on for the win from a determined Keith Dunn in 2nd and a lonely Tim Woodman completed the podium in 3rd.
The final race of the day was the second race for the Mini Miglia championship, therefore it seemed the perfect end of the day as a thrilling race was almost guaranteed. The front row saw Daniel Wheeler on pole from Aaron Smith in 2nd, who had managed to sort his car troubles that forced him to miss race 1. At the lights it was Smith that shot away into the lead as Wheeler made a bad start from pole as he slipped down the field. Things got worse for Wheeler at Quarry as him and Niven Burge both went off but whilst Wheeler was able to continue on Burge thumped the barriers quite heavily. This initially brought out the Safety Car at the end of lap 1 before the race was red flagged on lap 2.
The red flag appeared a blessing for Wheeler as the original grid would line up again giving him a second chance at improving his start. After a small 10 minute delay we were racing again as Wheel suitably made a much better getaway this time along with Kane Astin in 4th. Things were bad this time for Smith who pulled off at Avon Rise on lap 1 in what was a miserable day for him with 0 points scored. An initial lead battle developed between Wheeler, Astin and Richard Casey between laps 2 and 5.
At this point things went sour again for Wheeler as he made a mistake and dropped to 6thas Astin took over the lead. Astin was helped maintain his lead as an epic battle developed for 2nd between Tony Le-May, David Drew, Richard Casey and Daniel Wheeler in the closing laps. The race was enthralling to watch as two 4 car trains came very close as the battled for 2nd and 6th respectively. All of these battled suited Kane Astin just fine as it left him free to take the victory from Tony Le-May in 2nd and David Drew in 3rd.
The good weather ensured the crowd remained until the very end in what was a great opening meeting of the 2014 season with the next car race meeting only a few weeks away on the next Bank Holiday Monday in early May. For anyone interested in finding out more about Castle Combe events here’s a link to their website.
Also for anyone interested in further results from this meeting here’s a link to the official timekeeping company TSL Timing which have all the stats from Monday’s meeting.