Castle Combe

White,Davies share victories in contrasting Welsh Sports @ Saloon races

The Welsh Sports @ Saloon championship is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year, something which prompted the series to celebrate this by mixing up their calendar for this year. Usually all rounds of the series are held at the Pembrey circuit in South Wales, although for this year they decided to make their first ever trip to Castle Combe for the opening round of the 2015 championship. This was great news for the circuit in attracting new championships, with the huge grid providing the almost certain potential for exciting racing in their two 15 minute affairs.

For their first encounter it was ex-National hot rods front runner Keith White who was on pole in his BMW Z4 silhouette, with the monster power of Martin Davies Ford Sierra Cosworth alongside him. Row two was made up of earlier Mini Miglia front runner Sam Summerhayes, this time out in a hot Citroen Saxo, whilst Keith Butcher completed row two in his ex-Super Touring Audi A4.

At the start it was the grunt and four wheel drive of Davies Sierra Cosworth who propelled him into an early lead, although it would prove to be short lived as White got himself up to speed after a poor start, and stole the lead from Davies going into Quarry on the second lap. By the end of that lap White had already used the nimble nature of his car to build an early lead over Davies, with the now four now distanced from each other.

At this stage the interest in the race came from the unusual Fabio Luffarelli Mini saloon, which sported boxy extra bodywork and a 988cc motorcycle engine. He rose from the back of a huge grid to be 7th by the end of lap 8, a very impressive achievement considering the size of the grid. Luffarelli completed his charge by passing Matthew Howell in a similar Mini for 6th on lap 11, although could make no further progress from there.

After 12 laps it was Keith White who came home a comfortable victor,6 seconds clear of Martin Davies in a lonely second, with Keith Butcher completing the podium in his Audi. Sam Summerhayes,local saloon car driver Dave Scaramanga and Fabio Luffarelli completed the top six in this opening encounter.

The Welsh Sports @ Saloon championship grid reformed on the grid for their second race of the day, and the finale to the meeting the early evening sun shone and the few hardcore spectators remained. Once again the front row consisted of Keith White on pole and Martin Davies in second, with Keith Butcher third and Sam Summerhayes completing row two.

At the rolling start once again Davies used his 4wd in his Sierra Cosworth to romp away into an early lead from White, although down in the pack the trouble started at the end of lap as Glynne Jones spun in his BMW 320si spun at Camp, collecting David Smitheran in his Lotus Elise S1 and local favorite Julian Howall in his Mini, Howell returning for the first time in a long while since his days of being a Castle Combe Saloon car champion in the late 1990’s.

Keith White again snatched the lead from Davies on lap 2, although would have been surprised to see Davies re-pass him for the lead a lap later, as Butcher hovered behind waiting to pounce on a mistake from either of the first two. Sadly at this stage things took a turn for the worse, as a stranded car in a dodgy position at Tower forced the race to be red flagged on lap 4.

With time quickly running out before the circuit’s curfew of 6.30pm, the grid was hastily arranged for a restart. With minutes to spare the race got back underway with Davies once again taking an early lead, something which would prove crucial as time only allowed them two racing laps before the chequered flag came out to declare Martin Davies the victor, with earlier winner Keith White 2nd and Kieth Butcher in 3rd. Local driver Dave Scaramanga was 4th, whilst Fabio Luffarelli and Sam Summerhayes completed the top six.

The Welsh Sports @ Saloon championship provided great racing in both their encounters, with the wide variety and size of the grid showing how popular the series is. Whilst the second race was a let down for everyone, there was little the circuit could do, although why they didn’t determine the winner based on an aggregate of the two races rather simply than the two lap affair at the end is strange to me. Despite this we hope the Welsh Sports @ Saloon championship will make the short trip over to Castle Combe again next year. For more information on this eclectic championship please visit http://www.wrda.co.uk/

Tilling comes through for double win

After a difficult first year for the newly created Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series, the series began this year with a continuation of the upward momentum the series showed late last year. The entry list looked promising, with plenty of returning drivers complemented with several new faces for this year.

One face returning was circuit favorite Simon Tilling, after shaking down his very quick Ligier CN prototype at Combe last year, he returns hopefully for the full Sports Racing Car season. For the first of their two 20 minute races it was Tilling who claimed pole, with the smaller Radical PR6 of Josh Smith sharing the front row with him. Nick Jones lined up 3rd in his Radical whilst long time local driver Norman Lackford completed row two.

At the rolling start Tilling used the superior power from his two litre Honda engine to blast into the lead, whilst behind him the drama immediately started as a small collision ensued going up Avon Rise between back markers Darcy Smith and Richard Gray, leaving Gray out of the race against the barrier and Smith severely delayed. The Safety Car was swiftly deployed at the end of lap 1, although the delay only lasted two laps before the action resumed at the end of lap 3.

From the green flag it became a race between Tilling and Smith, who raced away from the pack in their own private battle for the lead. After several laps Tilling began to stretch out a slight advantage from Smith, whilst behind him the battle for 3rd was heating up, with Chris Child finally passing Lackford on lap 10 after several attempts in the previous laps, quickly building a lead of several seconds.

Both Tilling and Smith now held a huge lead over Child in 3rd, although with the gap stagnant between the top two the order remained the same until the flag after 17 laps, Tilling coming home a comfortable victory from the plucky Josh Smith in second, only two seconds back at the flag. Chris Child was a distant third, 48 seconds behind Tilling, showing the exceptional speed of the top two. Norman Lackford came home a close 4th, whilst Nick Jones and Chris Vinall completed the top six in this opening Sports Racing Car Series encounter.

Towards the end of the day the Sports Racing Car grid returned to the track, although sadly because the meeting was running late to avoid breaking the track’s curfew this race had to be reduced from 20 to 15 minutes in length. Once again it was Simon Tilling on pole, with Josh Smith alongside him on the front row for the rolling start. The second row was the same as earlier also, with Nick Jones in 3rd and Norman Lackford 4th.

Despite it being a rolling start the old bad luck of Tilling’s at starts reared it’s ugly head again, as he bogged down in his Ligier and had to watch Smith race away into an early lead. Usually by the end of the first lap Tilling would pick off Smith for the lead, however this time around Smith held firm and even opened a lead of several seconds in the first few laps, as the first two separated themselves from the rest of the grid.

The man to watch further back was Darcy Smith, a experienced local driver who was renting a very powerful Radical SR8 for the weekend, and he quickly rose from the back of the grid to 4th position by the end of lap 2. Darcy Smith continued his charge up the field by passing another local favorite in Norman Lackford for the final podium place at Camp on lap 4.

A lap later and it was all change at the front also, as after making Tilling work for it he finally found a way past Smith for the race going into Quarry. The first three were now clear from the pack, as Smith kept the pressure on Tilling for the lead over the remaining laps, he simply didn’t have the power to take advantage of the vast gains he would make in the corners.

After 13 laps the chequered flag was brought out for race winner Simon Tilling, although in truth he was forced to work a lot harder for this double win that he probably expected after qualifying a second clear of the pack. Josh Smith impressed in both races on his way to a double runner up spot, whilst father Darcy Smith made it a family affair on the podium in 3rd. Norman Lackford,Nick Jones and Chris Vinall completed the top six in the second installment of this rapidly growing Castle Combe series. For more information please visit their website here. http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/sports-racing-series/

Deeth,Astin claim close fought wins at Combe

After the heroics of the Dunlop Mini Seven challenge earlier, now it was the turn of the faster Dunlop Mini Miglia challenge to entertain the expectant crowd in their two races of the afternoon. The 300cc increase in engine power did not affect the close racing provided in both races, with the sizeable crowd enjoying all four of the Mini races at this Bank Holiday Monday Howard’s Day meeting.

Reigning champion Rupert Deeth secured pole position for the first of their two 10 lap races, with Mark Cowan alongside him in the famous ex-Peter Baldwin Mini. Kane Astin lined up 3rd with Dan Wheeler completing row two. At the start it was Deeth and Astin who made the best starts, whilst Cowan bogged down and dropped from the front row to mid pack by the time the charging pack reached Quarry.

From the off the lead battle developed with Deeth,Astin,Cowan and Aaron Smith initially fighting it out for the lead, although in the early laps the top eight were all fighting at the front, with constant jostling and changing positions amongst the pack as the looked to unseat Rupert Deeth for the lead. Going into the final laps it was Cowan who was on the move, first passing Aaron Smith for 3rd going up Avon Rise on lap 6, before passing Astin for 2nd at Bobbies later on in the lap.

Things soon got worse for Astin as he dropped another place on lap 8, losing 3rd to Sam Summerhayes, before regaining the final podium place with an audacious around the outside move at Camp on the penultimate lap. Despite facing immense pressure throughout the race, Rupert Deeth was just about able to hold everyone off to claim a narrow victory by only 0.055 thousands of a second over Mark Cowan. Kane Astin completed the podium after a hard fought race, with Sam Summerhayes coming home in 4th, Dan Wheeler and Colin Peacock completed the top six.

After the enthralling first race a similarly exciting second race was hoped for by many of the remaining spectators who stuck around until almost the end of the day to watch the second of their two Mini Miglia races. This time around the grid was slightly different with Mark Cowan on pole this time, sharing the front row with Kane Astin. Dan Wheeler lined up 3rd whilst race one winner Rupert Deeth had some work to do from 4th.

Once again at the start it was Rupert Deeth and Kane Astin who made the best getaways, whilst Mark Cowan once again fluffed his start and dropped well down the pack. Cowan was therefore looking to make up for his poor start as soon as possible, something which further hindered him as he spun off at Quarry on the opening lap, leaving him going from pole to back of the field in a quarter of a lap.

Back at the front and it was Wheeler and Astin who were challenging Deeth for the lead in the early laps, as a six car train developed behind them hoping they could unseat Deeth for top spot this time around. Their cause was helped immensely helped on lap 4 when it was announced that Deeth was being handed a 10 second penalty for a jumped start. It wasn’t something that had looked obvious at the start, although the officials clearly felt he had gained an advantage by jumping the start.

With Deeth’s chances of winning now looking impossible, Dan Wheeler now became the theoretical leader, despite Deeth slipstreaming past him for the actual lead on lap 7, as it now looked like the order would remain this way until the flag. Going into the final lap it was all change however, as Kane Astin stole the lead from Deeth going into Quarry, taking a lead he would keep until the chequered flag, with Dan Wheeler coming home a close second, whilst Sam Summerhayes completed the podium in 3rd. Mark Cowan provided a masterful recovery drive from his first lap errors to claim 4th, with David Drew and Phil Dale completing the top six.

Both races were a masterclass in how close, exciting racing from the always spectacular Mini Seven and Miglia grids, once again entertaining the spectators during the afternoon, with everyone I’m sure hoping the Mini series can return to Combe next year. For more information on this exciting series please visit their website here. http://www.mini7.co.uk/

Bull outlasts rest to claim opening Sports @ GT win

Next up on track was the first of the local circuit championships, the Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship, beginning it’s second season since being split in two with the Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series. The series is still well supported however and a wide variety of machinery took to the grid for their 15 lap opening stanza of their season.

Ian Hall sat on pole position with his impressive and very throaty Darrian Wildcat and his 6 litre Rover V8 engine, the highly sophisticated Mitsubishi Evo 9 alongside him. Perry Waddams in his impressive TVR Tuscan Challenge car sat in 3rd whilst Oliver Bull completed row two in his sleek Vauxhall Tigra Silhouette national hot rods spec car.

Off the line unsurprisingly it was the 4 wheel drive of Barry Squibb’s Evo which rocketed into an early lead off the line, although his lead would prove to be short lived as he was forced to slowly return to the pits by the end of lap 1, the myriad of reliability issues which slowed this car last year rearing their ugly head once again. This put Ian Hall into the lead, closely followed by Perry Waddams, both well clear of the pack in the early laps.

In the early laps the main battle was for 4th position between Michael Timberlake in his BMW M3, old circuit favorite Ilsa Cox in her Seat Leon Cupra car and Bull in his Vauxhall Tigra. Timberlake provided a good defense, although it was breached by Cox on lap 4 as she took 4th at Bobbies.

At the front the lead pairing had been slowly closing together in the opening laps, with Waddams finally passing Hall for the lead at Quarry on lap 5, whilst later on in the lap Bull quickly dispatched with Cox and Timberlake,cementing himself in 4th. A lap later and Ian Hall’s progressively sicker sounding Darrian pulled into the pits with a possible misfire, leaving Waddams comfortably clear of the rest of the pack.

Waddams now led comfortably from Dylan Popovic in the unusual Avatar racer, who at this stage of the race was more concerned with the progressively closing Oliver Bull behind him. After edging up to the back of Popovic, Bull made a move stick for 2nd at the Esses on lap 12, now setting his sights on the troubled Waddams out front.

The drama was kept up until the final lap, with Waddams slowing at Tower, leaving Oliver Bull free to claim the lead on the penultimate lap, clear now to claim a shock victory in the opening round of the resident Sports @ GT championship. Waddams slowed dramatically half way round the final lap, which Dylan Popovic felt contributed possibly to his last lap spin at the Esses, ripping off the venturi tunnels at the back of his Avatar.

After the late laps it was surprise that Bull was eventually able to comfortably win by 22 seconds from the recovering Popovic, with a delighted Ilsa Cox able to complete the podium. Michael Timberlake came home 4th, with Kevin Mears and Paul Arber completing the top six, a lap down on victor Bull.

For more information on this series please visit their website here. http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/gt/

Thomas and Spark claim close fought victories

Next up on track was the always entertaining Dunlop Mini Seven challenge, with the first of their two races for the smaller engined 1000cc old style Mini’s. The series has been around for a long time and always provides brilliant racing, something the drivers were keen to prove to the large crowd this Easter Monday.

In the first of their ten lap races it was Darren Thomas who claimed pole from Graeme Davis, with former front runner Max Hunter returning after a year out to claim third on the grid whilst Jabez Dyer completed the top four. At the start it was relatively sedate at the front with the notable exception being fifth man Paul Spark who made a demon start to rocket into the top placings early on.

If this race didn’t already need any further spice, it was nevertheless added with the champion of the past two years Andrew Deviny, who suffered a engine issue in qualifying and would start both races from the back of the grid. He made up a ton of places on the opening lap alone, and his charge would prove entertaining spectating for all of the sizeable crowd. Back at the front, the lead battle was immediately in place with Thomas,Hunter,Spark,Davis and Gareth Hunt all fighting to the lead. Spark took the lead on lap 3 and opened a small gap to the pack, however a lap later it was Thomas to jumped from 3rd to the lead as the first three made a small break.

Thomas built up a huge lead by Mini racing standards of several seconds on lap 5, although this was swiftly wiped out when the Safety Car was deployed at the end of the lap, the cause being a broadside Mini at the Bobbies chicane. Luckily the Safety Car was only out for two laps and departed back into the pits at the end of lap 6, leaving them free to battle it out in the final laps.

Immediately Spark, Dyer and Davis passed Thomas for the lead, although he returned the favor later in the lap by snatching the lead back at Tower. The man to watch at this point was Deviny, whose charge had brought him into the lead battle, and he immediately asserted himself by passing Dyer in a sensational move around the outside into the tight Bobbies chicane for 3rd on lap 8, before snatching 2nd from Spark shortly after on the pit straight at the beginning of lap 9.

Deviny was a man on a mission, something he proved as he tried an audacious move for the lead on Thomas by going around the outside at Camp corner, something which put his nose ahead briefly on the pit straight, although Thomas had the line and dragged past him to just about retain his lead going into the final lap. It should be no surprise at this point that going into the final lap it was the first seven who formed a high speed train jockeying for the lead.

Going into the final corner at Camp, Deviny once again tried the impossible around the outside, although this time once again Darren Thomas was just about able to retain the lead and claim a hard fought victory by a scant 0.033 thousands of a second from the charging reigning champion Andrew Deviny, who lived up to that moniker in this enthralling race. Paul Spark completed the podium in 3rd, with Graeme Davis, Jabez Dyer and Max Hunter completing the top six. A testament to the brilliant close racing was proved by the fact the top seven were only covered by 1.9 seconds.

This was truly a brilliant opening Mini Seven race, once again proving this is one of the most exciting forms of low cost motorsport, in what was for me one of the best Mini races I’ve witnessed in several years spectating at Combe. If the further Mini races were anything like this the spectators would be in for a treat later on in the afternoon.

Much later on in the afternoon the Dunlop Mini Seven grid reformed for their second race of the day, with the remaining spectators very much hoping their second race matched up to the scintillating opener. Once again Darren Thomas was on pole for the 10 lap dash, with Max Hunter this time sharing the front row with him. Graeme Davis and Paul Spark completed row two.

After his opening race charge from the back, Andrew Deviny was hoping to go one better than his very close 2nd this time out. At the start he shot up from the back of the pack, indeed overtaking twelve cars by the end of the opening lap. Unfortunately for both him and the expectant crowd Deviny had his charge halted by a mechanical problem a lap later. Back at the front of the race and Thomas led, closely followed by Hunter and Spark.

A lap later it was Thomas and Spark who made a break from Hunter, leaving him and the rest several seconds in arrears, although this was unlikely to last knowing Mini racing. As in the first race the leaders gap was reduced to nothing when the Safety Car came out on lap 5 for cars stranded at Quarry, of which it front runner Graeme Davis was involved, but was able to continue at the back of the pack.

The Safety Car was only out briefly and came back in at the end of lap 6, leaving Thomas to fend off the pack. This was something that would prove fruitless as Spark passed him a lap later around the outside at the Esses. At the end of the lap a small break was out front, containing Spark, Thomas as Hunter with the rest trailing behind. Going into the penultimate lap Thomas once again re-took the lead around the outside at Quarry, only for Spark to replicate the move to him a lap later.

From here fireworks were expected from Thomas in the final half lap, although unfortunately he was left with damp fire power as his dramatically slowed exiting the Esses, dropping him from 2nd to 9th in the final standings with his engine sounding very rough as he passed me. This left Paul Spark free to claim victory by a relatively comfortable Mini racing margin 0.306 of a second from Max Hunter in 2nd, no doubt delighted with a podium in his return to Mini racing after a year out last year.

Jabez Dyer had a relatively quiet race to the final podium place in 3rd, with Gareth Hunt 4th, Kieren McDonald 5th and Steve Trench completing the top six. This race was another slip streaming masterclass from the Mini seven grid, proving once again why this series is so popular amongst club racing spectators. For more information on this brilliant racing series please visit their website here. http://www.mini7.co.uk/

David Grace avenges earlier defeat in second leg of Austin Healey invitational

The final race of both the day and the 2014 Castle Combe motorsport season was the second part of the Austin Healey Invitational Challenge, with this second 20 minute affair set to be a close race based on the earlier race. The grid was based on the first race results which meant David Smithies lined up on pole, with David Grace alongside him on the front row. The first race seemed to have been one of attrition as both 3rd and 4th placed men from the opening race Bruce Montgomery and Jaap Sinke were sadly missing for this second race, leaving row 2 completely empty.

From the start it was David Grace who made the best getaway to take the lead, going on to open a lead of 1-2 seconds at the end of the opening lap. At the front the first six were quickly dropping the rest of the field, although Grace soon made sure he distanced himself from those behind as he built a 5 second lead by lap 4. Behind them David Smithies was unable to focus on closing down Grace for the lead as he first had to fend off the advances of the Jack Chatham entry, who had risen fast from 6th on the grid to fight for 2nd.

Sadly from here things seemed to spread out amongst the first three as Grace, Smithies and Chatham circulated alone by lap 9. From here it was Chatham who came under increasing pressure from the Martin Hunt/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards entry, with the gap between the top 6 and the rest now a staggering 30 seconds also. The final minutes were run out with no further changes in position as David Grace avenged his earlier defeat to claim the victory, from first race winner David Smithies in 2nd whilst Jack Chatham came home 3rd in the iconic Chatham Cars entry. The Martin Hunt/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards entry was 4th from Karsten Le Blanc in 5th and the Chris Clarkson/Ted Williams entry which completed the top 6.

This was a great race to finish the day and the season off with the Austin Healey providing some good race and excitement for the spectators that stayed until the end. In summary, just like the Autumn Classic every Castle Combe season seems to get better, with great support once again for the local championships and some great series who visited the circuit this year. From here the circuit seems to have some exciting plans although will have to find talented people to fill the long standing shoes of the Fawdington’s, long time circuit employees who are sadly leaving at the end of this year. I for one cannot wait for the 2015 season which should provide some exciting racing once again.

Steve Jones wins battle for 500cc F3 victory at Combe

The penultimate race of the day was an eagerly anticipated one, as it was the first 500cc F3 race to take place at Castle Combe since 1955. In period the category was a regular at Castle Combe as young racers such as Stirling Moss fought to prove themselves, although sadly the category hadn’t returned since it’s heyday in the 1950’s. Luckily the 500 Owners Association put together a well supported grid for this Autumn Classic race, with Steve Jones on pole in his Cooper, with George Shackleton alongside in his similar Cooper.

After a rolling start the 15 minute race got underway with Shackleton assuming the early lead from Jones. After the opening lap the leading pair had an advantage of 1-2 seconds over the rest of the field, suggesting this race would simply be between the leading duo. A mistake from leader Shackleton as he ran wide on the exit of the Esses meant Jones sped through into a lead of 3-4 seconds over the recovering Shackleton on lap 3. Over the next few laps Shackleton did manage to close the gap down to 1.7 seconds by lap 7.

A lap later and Shackleton executed a audacious round the outside move on leader Jones at Camp in what was by far the best move of the entire day’s racing. Sadly it didn’t count for much as Jones used a much better exit from Camp to re-take the lead at Folly on the next lap. From here the first two remained close over the final minutes however there were no further changes in position as Steve Jones claimed a close victory over George Shackleton, with the final podium man Gordon Russell far behind the first two in his unique Mackson racer.

Richard De La Roche was 4th in his Smith racer whilst Darrell Woods and John Turner rounded out the top 6 in their Coopers. This race showed why 500cc F3 was so popular in the 1950’s with again close racing provided almost 60 years later. This definitely showed why the 500cc Owners Association needs to organise a return to Castle Combe next year, something that would hopefully be eagerly accepted by everyone involved. For more information on this great series please visit their website below.
http://www.500race.org/

Ellis/Fores too fast for rest in Fiscar 50’s Inter-Marque enduro

Next up on track was the 30 minute Fiscar 50’s Inter-Marque affair, which included mandatory pit stops to ensure an endurance feel to this race. The grid was as large as it was eclectic, with the pole man being the shared Lotus Elite of Robin Ellis and Richard Fores, with the similar Elite of soloist Brian Arculus alongside on the front row. Martyn Corfield was 3rd in this impressive Austin Healey 100/4 whilst earlier Jon Goss Memorial trophy front row man Steve Brooks completed row 2.

At the start it was Brian Arculus who made the best getaway to take the lead as the Ellis/Fores entry bogged down on the line. In the early laps the attention was focused on the recovering Ellis/Fores entry as they passed the fellow shared entry of John Ure and Nick Wigley in their Cooper Bristol T24 for 2nd on the pit straight after 3 laps. A lap later and the Ellis/Fores took the lead as the leader Arculus rocketed into the pit lane at the first possible moment to take his mandatory pit stop. He explained the reasoning was to avoid potential traffic during the stop which could cost him time.

Behind them lap 4 also saw the Mike Thorne/Sarah Bennett- Baggs Austin Healey 100M pass the Ure/Wigley Cooper for 3rd on the Dean straight. With Arculus pitting this promoted the Ure/Wigley Cooper back into 3rd, although this didn’t last long as they were deposed again, this time by the flying Simon Hadfield in his under powered Elva Courier on lap 5. From here it quickly became apparent the Ure/Wigley Cooper was dropping away from the top 3 by lap 7. Back at the front and it was clear that the man on the move was earlier Jon Goss Memorial trophy winner Simon Hadfield in the Elva. He passed the Thorne/Bennett- Baggs Austin Healey for 2nd on lap 8 and claimed the lead a lap later as the Ellis/Fores Lotus pitted, losing time as he was held up by slower cars also pitting at the same time.

Also on this lap the Ure/Wigley recovered from their earlier drop in pace to pass the Thorne/Bennett-Baggs Austin Healey for 3rd, which prompted both the Healey but also the 4th placed Martyn Corfield in his Healey 100/4 to pit a lap later. It was at this middle portion of the race that the majority of the pit stops were being made, making it very hard to track who was where in the jumbled up portion of the race. Lap 11 saw the Ure/Wigley Cooper pit from 2nd, with an entertaining scrap taking place a lap later as the recovering Ellis/Fores Lotus Elite bravely attempted to unlap himself from the leading Hadfield Elva.

With almost three quarters of the race gone the final front runners to pit were Hadfield and 2nd man Steve Brooks on lap 14, as Hadfield handed over to his wife Amanda. This reinstated the Brian Arculus Lotus Elite in the lead, whilst the Elva now piloted by Amanda Hadfield plummeted down the order over the final laps as she failed to match the scorching pace set by her husband Simon.

Back at the front and the Ure/Wigley Cooper was flying as it passed the Arculus Lotus Elite for the lead on lap 17. The battle for the lead intensified on the next lap as the rapidly closing Ellis/Fores Lotus finally caught the lead pair. A 3 way dice for the lead going up Avon Rise was finally decided as the Ellis/Fores Lotus blasted through the middle to take the lead on lap 18. From here the lead three remained close although they didn’t change position again as the flag fell at the end of lap 20. The Robin Ellis/Richard Fores Lotus Elite claimed a narrow victory from the solo Brian Arculus Lotus Elite whilst the John Ure/Nick Wigley Cooper Bristol completed the podium. Martyn Corfield was 4th in his Austin Healey 100/4 whilst Steve Brooks and the Andy Shephard/Ted Shephard AC Ace Bristol completed the top 6 in a thrilling Fiscar 50’s Inter-Marque race.

Wakeham recovers from poor start to claim VSCC Pre-War victory

The Vintage Sports Car Club are always popular at Castle Combe, and they kindly put together a grid for an invitational race after their regular season finished at Snetterton the week before. Combe and the Autumn Classic is obviously popular with the drivers as a high quality grid lined up for their 20 minute curtain closer to their season. David Freeman was on pole in his Aston Martin 2 Litre Speed Model whilst Frederic Wakeham was on the outside of the front row in his Frazer Nash Super Sports. Mark Brett was 3rd in his unique Ballamy-Ford V8 Special whilst Sue Derbyshire completed row 2 in his three wheeler Morgan Super Aero.

At the start it was 3rd man Mark Brett who made a lightning getaway to shoot between the middle of the front row to claim the early lead. Behind them it was all change in the early laps as David Freeman passed Wakeham for 2nd on lap 3, only for Wakeham to re-take the place on the pit straight at the beginning of lap 4. Later on in the lap and Wakeham completed his mission as he claimed the lead from the fast starting Brett. Lap 5 and things got worse for Brett as he was further demoted to 3rd by pole man David Freeman. At this stage Wakeham was attempting to break away from the rest as he opened a 1-2 second lead on the rest.

From lap 6 it was clear Wakeham and Freeman were breaking away from the developing battle for 3rd between Brett and Andrew Mitchell. After several laps of dicing for 3rd it was finally resolved on lap 9 as Mitchell passed Brett. Back at the front Wakeham now had a lead of 1.5 seconds, something he extended to 3.3 seconds by lap 11. From here things remained the same as Frederic Wakeham came home the victor, from David Freeman in 2nd and Andrew Mitchell who completed the podium.

Fast starter Mark Brett came home 4th whilst Sue Derbyshire and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards completed the top 6. This race has plenty of excitement with close battles and spectacular driving in these Pre-War race cars with a remarkable variety of little known manufacters, which is exactly why the VSCC is so popular with the Castle Combe spectators every year they race here. For more information on this great series please visit their website below.
http://www.vscc.co.uk/

Martin Hunt takes Norman Dewes Pre-66 Jaguar Trophy at Combe Autumn Classic

After a brief break in the racing proceedings, for some high speed demonstrations from the likes Julian Bronson in his Scarab Grand Prix car, a Maserati 250F and other classic racing exotica, it was the turn of the Pre-66 Jaguar grid to form up for their 30 minute Norman Dewes Trophy race. On pole was Martin Hunt in his Jaguar E Type, with Mark Russell alongside him in his similar E Type. Row 2 was made up of well known retired sportscar racer and 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andy Wallace in an older Jaguar C Type, with Graham Bull completing row 2 in another E Type.

From the start pole man Martin Hunt made a good start to take the early lead, as the rest spaced out behind him in the early laps. The gaps between the top three were now evenly spaced with the only drama in the middle portion of the race being Andy Wallace, who appeared to be struggling to keep hold of 3rd from Graham Bull behind him. After a backmarker spun off on the exit of Camp with his car broadside against the tyres on the pit straight the Safety Car was deployed on lap 16 so the recovery trucks could safely recover the car.

After 3 laps the Safety Car peeled in again on lap 18, as Brian Stevens took advantage of this to dive inside Graham Bull for 4th at Camp after the Safety Car came in. Whilst it appeared a dubious move as both cars had yet to pass the start finish line no action was taken by the stewards after. Anyone who was hoping Martin Hunt would now be challenged for the lead were disappointed as second driver in the queue failed to keep up with Hunt on the re-start, allowing him to open a huge lead again as the other front runners were held up behind slow back markers.

A lap later and things took a turn for the worse for Andy Wallace in 3rd as he was forced onto the grass to avoid a spinning car, dropping him from 3rd to 5th with only a few laps left to recover. From here things remained stagnant for the final two laps as Martin Hunt cruised home after 21 laps to claim victory, with Mark Russell and Brian Stevens completing an all E Type podium in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Graham Bull was 4th in his own E Type as Andy Wallace remained 5th in his C Type with Colin McKay completing the top 6.

Whilst the race lacked in wheel to wheel battling slightly, that’s to be expected with the value and age of the machinery on the track, something that still fascinates me to this day. The Safety Car leveled things out although this race has just enough of everything to ensure this was a great race for the plentiful spectators.