Simon Norris survives last lap collision to claim Sports @GT win

Unlike the Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship, the Sports @ GT title had already been decided in the favour of dominant driver Gary Prebble. Since the Castle Combe Racing Club decided to split the series for this year, creating a new Sports Racing Car Series for the Sports Prototypes this year Garry Prebble has dominated the year in his all powerful Mitsubishi Evo 9RS. After a wet morning qualifying session it was no surprise to see the horde of 4 wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo’s at the front of the grid.

Gary Prebble was unsurprisingly on pole from on-off entrant Simon Norris in his beastly looking Evo 9. Ex-rallycross racer Barry Squibb was 3rd in his Evo with the 2014 European Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou lining up 4th in his Team RJN Nissan 370Z GT4 spec. Off line now it was the two front row men Prebble and Norris who rocketed off the line to take the early advantage. After the opening lap Prebble and Norris had opened a lead of 2-3 seconds over the battle for 3rd between Squibb and Paletou.

By lap 3 Prebble was beginning to ease away slightly from Norris in 2nd as he looked to round out his year in style with a win, as behind them a fast rising Perry Waddams in his brutish TV Tuscan with monstrous Chevrolet LS3 engine overtook Paletou for 3rd on lap 4 at Camp, with Paletou re-taking it on the pit straight. On the next lap at Quarry Barry Squibb pulled off into retirement from 5th, bringing to an end a troubled season in his unreliable Evo.

Lap 7 saw a huge development at the front as it looked as if Prebble made an uncharacteristic mistake on the pit straight as Norris raced through into the lead. The battle for 3rd was finally settled as Waddams finally made a move stick on Paletou a lap later, as Norris was settled in the lead as Prebble trailed 3.4 seconds behind. It now seemed Prebble’s car was struggling with a car problem by lap 10 as Waddams passed Prebble at Bobbies for 2nd. At Quarry a lap later Paletou also mugged Prebble for the final podium place.

Prebble slowed to a crawl again going up Avon Rise on lap 12 and finally pulled off from 4th into a rare retirement for the 2014 champion. An exciting battle for the lead was now developing in the final laps as Perry Waddams first took the lead on the outside at Quarry on lap 13, before Norris used his superior acceleration to re-take the lead going into the Esses. After the same happened on lap 14 the final lap was set to be a cracker as the Sports @ GT season came to an end.

After plenty of ducking and diving Waddams saw his last chance to grab the lead as he got a better exit from Westway as he looked to the inside on Dean Straight to give him the lead going into the final corner. After Norris moved to the edge of the track to cover Waddams the two made significant side-on contact, with Waddams TVR being momentarily launched into the air as the heavy landing broke his front suspension. Unable to steer Waddams desperately tried to slow the car as he went across the grass before going straight on at Camp and stopping the car on the exit of the corner just before the wall.

This left Simon Norris free to take a sizeable victory from rising star Gaetan Paletou in one of his first races in the GT4 spec Nissan 370Z. Team mate to Paletou Paul Brown completed the podium, as Keith Dunn finished 4th in his Caterham C400. The Ariel Atom of Lee Cunningham was 5th as Dylan Popovic completed the top 6 in his unique Marlin Avatar. Unsurprisingly both drivers had differing views on the incident with Norris feeling in the post race podium that Waddams was trying some risky moves and was not fully alongside Norris when the two made contact.

Despite the contentious end to the season this year has been a promising one for the new Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship, with Gary Prebble a very deserving champion with the series also showing signs of potential growth for the 2015 season. Simply put, I cannot wait. For more info on the series please visit the link below.
http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/gt/

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