The penultimate race of the day was for the final of the resident championships as the Castle Combe Sports and GT Championship took to the grid for their penultimate race of the season also. After a hugely impressive year the title appeared destined for Mitsubishi Evo driver Gary Prebble, who duly claimed pole in the wet conditions from fellow Evo pilot Barry Squibb. The wet conditions would give a massive advantage to the 4wd Evo’s compared to the rest, and so it proved from the start as they both marched away from the rest as the scrambled around for grip. From the start it was ex-Rallycross racer Squibb who took the advantage and build of cushion of around a second by the end of lap 1.
For the rest behind they stood no chance with Nick Holden leading the futile charge in his Ariel Atom in 3rd. The only leading battle in the early stages of this 15 lap race was Dylan Popovic and his Marlin racer closing on and then passing Craig Moore in the unusual Rage buggy on lap 6. The pivotal moment of the race came on lap 9 as Squibb was forced into retirement with a turbo failure that led ominously to flames out the exhaust pipe. From here it was easy for Prebble despite well worn wet tyres, which he later explained is why he couldn’t match Squibb.
On lap 11 it appeared Holden suffered an off as he lost a lot of time, but still retaining his 2nd place such was his advantage. The man on the move in the later stages was Martin Perry in his unlikely Fiat Coupe, who first used a better exit from Camp to pass Craig Moore in the Rage for 4th on lap 13, then passed Dylan Popovic on the next lap for 3rd.
From here he couldn’t make any more progress as Gary Prebble meanwhile cruised home for his 41st overall victory at Castle Combe, with Nick Holden a lapped 2nd such was the advantage Prebble enjoyed. Martin Perry was elated with 3rd despite finishing 2 laps down, with Dylan Popovic trailing home 4th from Craig Moore in 5th and finally Mark Higginson in another Rage buggy who finished 6th. This victory meant Gary Prebble wrapped up the 2014 Castle Combe Sports @ GT Championship with a round to spare, in what has been a truly dominant year for him in this series.
The second of the resident Castle Combe series came onto the track next, as the circuit’s Formula Ford grid trickled out for the start of their 15 lap race. The aim of this race would surely be just staying on the track with their light cars in these tricky conditions. With this being the penultimate round of the championship their was added pressure on the drivers in contention for the title.
It wasn’t one of the title contenders who took pole as the always fast Nathan Ward claimed pole from championship leader Roger Orgee in 2nd. On row 2 were the returning old favourite Felix Fisher and another title contender is Ash Crossey. At the start Ward took an early lead and set about building an opening lap lead of 1 second. From here things only improved for Ward as he built his lead to 4 seconds by the end of lap 3. It appeared Ward had pace no one could match in the early stages, which was strange as the race was slightly processional at this point which isn’t seen often with this series especially.
The first 5 were spread out by lap 6 as Ward kept building his lead to around 7.5 seconds by the end of lap 7. On lap 9 the conditions finally caught out one of the front runners as title contender Ash Crossey suffered a lengthy off and dropped well down the field to 9th. By the next lap it became clear he was now on a mission as he quickly clawed himself back to 7th and began scything into the gap between him and Ed Moore ahead in 6th.
By the later stages Ward has now maintained his lead at around 12 seconds, a staggering amount which he held to the end in what was the most dominant Castle Combe Formula Ford victory seen for several years . Roger Orgee settled for 2nd and a decent haul of points from one-off returning driver Felix Fisher who completed the podium. Reigning champion Adam Higgins would have been slightly disappointed to lose ground to Orgee in the title race with 4th, with brother and team mate Richard Higgins outlining his recent improvement with a consistent 5th. Finally despite the frantic charge Crossey was unable to challenge Moore for 6th who just held on at the flag.
The championship will go down to the final meeting although with dropped scores to be taken into account it suggests the title race will be between leader Roger Orgee and reigning champion Adam Higgins. That race should be worth a visit to Castle Combe for the 5th October meeting alone. For more information on this scintillating series please visit – http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/formula-ford-1600/
The second helping of Ferrari action came courtesy of the Pirelli Ferrari Formula Classic, which caters from some exotic classic Ferrari cars. The series is a regular at this A Plant LUX Bank Holiday meeting so the spectators knew what to expect from this impressive series.
On pole was Gary Culver in his Ferrari 328 GTB, with Peter Fisk alongside him on the front row. Row 2 has Darren Wilson in 3rd with Ray Ferguson in 4th. At the start it was Culver who made the best start to take the early lead in this 20 minute race, with Fisk joining him in making a quick break from the rest, before stealing the lead himself on lap 1. Their lead by the end of lap 1 was significant although by the end of lap 2 Fisk began gapping Culver by roughly 2 seconds.
By lap 4 Culver had reduced the lead to nothing as he began challenging Fisk for the lead, meanwhile behind them Nigel Jenkins passed Darren Wilson for 3rd going up Avon Rise on the same lap. Jenkins immediately opened a gap to Wilson as he secured himself in 3rd at this time. The move for the lead finally came at the fast kink Hammerdown on lap 6 as Culver set to work building a lead of several seconds in subsequent laps.
For the rest of the the top 4 were strung out as the conditions didn’t help the racing at all. For the likes of leader Culver it was simply about keeping a rhythm and counting down the laps, something he did expertly to maintain his lead of several seconds to the flag. He claimed victory from Peter Fisk in 2nd whilst Nigel Jenkins claimed his second podium of the day after claiming 3rd in the Ferrari Open race too. Darren Wilson was 4th whilst a lapped Ray Ferguson and Tim Walker completed the top 6.
After the exotica from the Ferrari series it was time for cars more in line with the spectators as the resident Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship rolled out for it’s 15 lap dash. On pole was the form man Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird with Class B pace setter Mark Wyatt alongside him. Row 2 consisted of Tony Hutchings in his Audi TT from giant killer Carl Loader in his lowly Citroen Saxo VTS.
From the start it was Bird and Hutchings who made the best getaway’s whilst Wyatt squandered his good qualifying position with a slow getaway. The front three of Bird,Hutchings and Wyatt were already breaking from the rest by the end of lap 1 as Loader held up the rest behind in 4th. Russell Akers found a way past Loader going up Avon Rise on lap 2, although he already had several seconds to make up to the rest in front. Hutchings was beginning to struggle however with the balance of his car and a huge moment at Old Paddock allowed Wyatt to breeze past into 2nd on lap 4.
Whilst Wyatt left Hutchings behind him his luck was about to improve even more as Bird pulled into the pits at the end of lap 6 to retire, handing a comfortable lead to Wyatt. Akers behind in 3rd was falling well behind the rest as an almost processional race came about at the front with Wyatt leading by several seconds and Hutchings have a 10 second plus gap to Akers back in 3rd. Hutchings was clearly suffering in the race as he couldn’t live with Wyatt’s pace with the most significant battle now taking place between John Barnard and Kieren Simmons for 5th.
Lap 11 saw Simmons finally pass Barnard for 5th, and set about building a gap to secure himself in 5th. On the penultimate lap Akers pulled into the pits to retire with obvious barrier damage to the front of his Astra, therefore promoting the giant killing Loader into 3rd with his Saxo. Barnard was also suffering on lap 14 as he ran wide at Camp, giving himself front end damage once he touched the barrier.
All of this proved not to be a distraction to Wyatt who strolled home for an easy victory with Hutchings taking 2nd and Carl Loader completing the podium in 3rd. Kieren Simmons was 4th from the returning Bill Brockbank in 5th and a lapped Ayrton Anderson who completed the top 6.
After a frantic Mighty Mini the next race proved to be completely different as the exotic Pirelli Ferrari Open series took to the track for their 25 minute race. A small grid didn’t provide much hope for a good race however it only takes two cars to make a great race. After qualifying it was Wayne Marrs on pole in his Ferrari F458 Challenge car from local man Graham Reeder in his Ferrari F430 GT3 model.
From the rolling start it was Marrs who blasted into an early lead, which he extended to roughly 1.5 seconds by the end of lap 1. Despite the poor conditions the cars were hurtling around the track as Marrs and Reeder opened a significant early gap to the rest by the end of lap 2. The only cars at the early stages who were close together were Nigel Jenkins and Vance Kearney in 3rd and 4th respectively.
From lap 4 onwards the rain started to fall a lot heavier, which brought Reeder back into play as he set consecutive fastest laps despite the increasing rain fall. Reeder eliminated the gap to nothing as he began challenging Marrs for the lead from lap 10 onwards. Behind these two the battle for 3rd came to an end as Kearney spun exiting Camp on lap 10, re-joining 5th. Despite Reeder closing after a few laps Marrs upped his pace and rebuilt his lead of several seconds over Reeder from lap 12 onwards.
On lap 13 the dominance of Marrs and Reeder was highlighted as they lapped the rest of the field, whilst behind them Kearney began his recovery drive by closing on team mate Darren Laverty for 4th on lap 14. By the later laps Marrs was really stretching his lead to 3.1 seconds as he cruised home after 19 laps to a comfortable victory over Graham Reeder in a valiant 2nd. Nigel Jenkins came home a very lonely 3rd and a lap down. Laverty held onto 4th from the recovering Kearney whilst Paul Ugo completed the top 6.
This race suffered from both the small grid and the terrible conditions, therefore this race was not a fair reflection of a usually much more competitive series. Nevertheless, it was still fascinating seeing such impressive cars in the confines of Castle Combe race circuit. For more information on this series please visit – https://www.ferrariownersclub.co.uk/race-category/2014-pirelli-ferrari-open/