After the frenetic resident Formula Ford series there was no let up in the action as the Castle Combe Saloon car championship took to the grid. After qualifying a shock was provided as circuit favourite Gary Prebble managed to snatch pole in his first time driving friend Rob Ballard’s Seat Leon Cupra. Alongside him was the impressive Russell Akers in his uprated Vauxhall Astra. At the lights it was Akers who made the best start to grab an initial lead. Behind him Tony Hutchings improved on 3rd in his Audi TT by passing Prebble for 2nd on lap 2.
From here the leaders appeared to spread themselves out slightly however this calm period was ruined when Prebble re-took 2nd from Hutchings around the back portion of the circuit and was soon hustling Akers for the lead. Behind them a potentially big moment in the 2014 championship occurred as perennial class winner Adrian Slade lunched his gearbox going into Camp on lap 7 forcing him to retire from 4th.
From here the race was taking a calmer turn yet by the penultimate lap this was clearly over as both Prebble and Hutchings were looking to pass Akers going up Avon rise. The inevitable people feared occurred from here as Akers was potentially helped into a spin at Quarry although from my vantage point it looked as if he lost him all by himself. Either way he became a retirement and this settled the race as Prebble opened a small gap to take a very popular win from Hutchings in 2nd with Kevin Bird a long way back in his Renualt Megane completed the rostrum. The win was also significant for Prebble as he matched Bob Light’s all time win record at Castle Combe.
After that excitement it was the Nippon Challenge that was next up with their second race of the day. The first race finishing order from race 1 determining the grid for race 2 many waited to see if Simon James could improve on his third place grid slot after his race 1 heroics. At the lights it was pole man Adam Lockwood who made the best getaway with a similar outcome to race 1 as immediately him and second man James Janicki broke away from the pack by lap 1 with Lockwood then opening a gap to Janicki in second through laps 2-4. Although not quite as dominant as race 1 it was clear only mechanical/driver error would deny Lockwood a double win.
The spectator’s eyes were therefore drawn to the battle for 4th between Curtis Mitchell and Craig Rankine which was settled in Rankine’s favour on lap 7. At this point Lockwood had a 6 second lead however with only minute’s left in this 15 minute dash the red flag’s suddenly appeared after tail ender Jon Lord suffered a dramatic looking accident on the pit straight. After running wide at Camp he lost control on the grass with the rear hitting the tyres before sending the car into a sickening mix of barrel and end over end rolls before landing upside down. Luckily the roll cage did it’s job and Lord was quickly out of the car, yet this spelt the end of the race as Lockwood was declared the winner from Janicki and Simon James in 2nd and 3rd.
Net up on the time table was the new for 2014 Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series solely for sports prototype machines. After a thin first round entry the numbers were up slightly for this meeting as 7 cars ventured onto the grid. After missing the first round it was no surprise to see Simon Tilling on pole although this time he was driving his newly acquired VdeV spec Ligier JS49T and not his bright orange Radical. First round winner Norman Lackford lined up alongside him on the front row.
From the rolling start Tilling was dominant as he lapped several seconds a lap quicker than the rest in what was simply a shakedown session for his new car. Behind Lackford gave valiant chase with the only real action being Stephen Bracegirdle in his Nemisis passing Mike Roberts Radical SR8 for 3rd on lap 7 before pulling away. After a dominant 20 minute display Tilling took the win 30 seconds clear of Lackford in 2nd with Bracegirdle a lap down in 3rd.
The penultimate race of the race was the second stanza of the Toyota MR2 series with once again the finishing order from race 1 determining the grid for race 2. Therefore it was Paul Corbridge who was on pole from Nathan Harrison in second. From the lights Corbridge made a very good getaway whilst Harrison fell into the pack as he fluffed his start. This time around it was 4th man Neale Hurren who had vaulted his way up to 2nd at the start that was troubling Corbridge as they broke from the rest by the end of lap 1.
Harrison started his recovery drive by passing Eddie O’Kane for 4th going into Quarry on lap 5 before joining the battle between Jon Winter, Harrison, Peter Higton and race 1 pole man Aaron Pullan who had amazingly managed to fit a new clutch in the period between race 1 and 2 to start from the back. His lightning progress soon saw him win this battle as he snatched 3rd from Harrison on the inside at Tower on lap 8. Sadly he was left with not enough time to catch the leading two despite taking seconds a lap out of their lead he finished the race right on the tail of 2nd man Hurren with Corbridge only just up the road as he took the win.
The final race of this truncated programme was a Castle Combe open sports v saloons race with an eclectic entry. On pole was Chris Milner with his Caterham CSR with the VW Vento VR6 of Dave Scaramanga alongside him. From the start both front row men made good getaway’s as the rest were left for dead behind. Soon Scaramanga joined that list as Milner’s Caterham was so much quicker than the rest of the saloon entries.
Behind him the field was fairly evenly spread with no real significant battles being provided during the 10 lap dash. At the flag it was a delighted Chris Milner who took a very comfortable victory with Dave Scaramanga being the best saloon car home I 2nd, only 50 seconds down on Milner. Martin Perry completed the podium in his Fiat coupe to round out another great day’s racing at Castle Combe with the next meeting only 3 weeks away on the next Bank Holiday Monday.
For more details about the Castle Combe circuit please visit their website here http://www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk/
Also for anyone interested in the official results from yesterday’s meeting feel free to visit the TSL Timing link to all the official results here http://www.tsl-timing.com/?loc=club&season=2014&series=CCRC&event=club&source=ed_CCRC&eventid=141968