Cooper

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/

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Jon Milicevic dominates Historic Formula Junior affair

After the Championship Finals meeting the previous day, Castle Combe finished it’s season off with a nostalgic feel as the circuit transported itself back to the early years of the track in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the third annual Autumn classic meeting. After the previous two Classics were runaway successes the circuit made sure the third running this year the event was the biggest and best yet.

With copious demonstrations from various local car clubs at different portions of the circuit and bright sunshine above the opening HSCC Millers Oils Historic Formula Junior grid took shape on the circuit before the start. On pole was previous Historic Formula Ford champion Westie Mitchell in his De Tomaso with Jon Milicevic alongside him in his older Cooper T59. Row 2 was shared by Carlin GP3 mechanic Jack Woodhouse and Steve Jones in 4th.

Once the lights went out in this 20 minute race it was Jon Milicevic who made the best start from the outside of the front row to snatch the early lead from Jack Woodhouse in 2nd. From here the opening lap was relatively sedate as the first six were evenly spaced at the front. Things were soon changing however as Woodhouse immediately began closing the gap to leader Milicevic on lap 2. From here it seemed Milicevic was able to respond as he re-built his lead over the next few laps as Westie Mitchell in 3rd began closing on Woodhouse.

Sadly for the spectators the gaps stayed largely the same over the next portion of the race, with the only changes being the increasing of the gaps between the top 3 in traffic late on. This also was helped as Mitchell seemed to have an intermittent problem which slowed him momentarily on the pit straight on lap 15. A lap later and Jon Milicevic cruised to victory from Jack Woodhouse in 2nd and Westie Mitchell who completed the podium. 4th went to Richard Smeeton as Steve Jones was 5th and Laine Martin completed the top 6.

Whilst the race was not the most exciting way to begin the Castle Combe Autumn classic meeting it did give the large crowd a chance to watch a high speed demonstration of these classic Formula Junior racers and the considerable talent of winner Jon Milicevic, it’s just a shame he didn’t have to work harder for his victory.
For more information on this series please visit the websites below.
http://www.formulajunior.com/
http://www.hscc.org.uk/championships

Mini Challenge MSVR Castle Combe 02/08/14

The first of the visiting MSVR championships to get onto the track was the Mini challenge series, for the first of their two races of the day. It promised to be an exciting race as a wet qualifying session determined the grid, yet by the time of their race the track was rapidly drying, leaving some last minute decisions on tyres and set up before the race.

Championship leader Chris Knox claimed pole from Luke Caudle, with ex-Legends racer Lawrence Davey and Neil Newstead completing row 2. At the start of this 20 minute race it was Knox and Caudle who made the best starts from the front row, as the rest diced for position behind them. It didn’t take long before Caudle was putting heavy pressure on Knox for the lead, although they were still managing to pull away from the field despite their battle.

Lap 4 saw Knox beginning to settle in and establish a gap to Caudle of several seconds, as behind these two Davey was now challenging the fast starting Henry Duprey for 3rd also. At this point of the race Knox was simply dominating as by lap 7 he held a 14 second gap to Duprey in 3rd and was in complete control of the race. A lap later and Davey finally breached a stubborn defence of 3rd from Duprey, as he dived inside him at Tower. Things didn’t get any easier for Duprey as the closest challenger to Knox in the championship, Neil Newstead, went inside him at Quarry on lap 10 for 4th.

From here Newstead was the man on the move as he quickly caught and was challenging Davey for 3rd, although his brave attempt at taking the place at Bobbies on lap 13 went badly wrong, as he completely misjudged it and fell back several seconds, ground he was unable to make up in the remaining time. After 16 laps it was Chris Knox who came through for a comfortable victory from a lonely Luke Caudle in 2nd. Lawrence Davey completed the podium with Neil Newstead, Hamish Brandon and Henry Duprey completing the top 6 in 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. In the lower Cooper class it was reigning class champion Shane Stoney who came through for the victory.

Later on in the afternoon the Mini challenge returned for it’s second and final race of the day. The top 8 finishing order in race 1 was reversed for the grid of race which meant it was Patrick Mortimer on pole from Keith Issatt alongside him, with Henry Duprey and Hamish Brandon on row 2. The men to watch out for were Luke Caudle and race 1 winner Chris Knox, who were both on row 4 for this race. The rolling start was pretty uneventful although it didn’t stay that way for long, as a multi car accident in the lower Cooper class brought out the Safety Car at the end of lap 1.

It was two cars who were out of the race that caused the Safety Car, although frustratingly the barriers had been damaged in the accident, necessitating a red flag and 10-20 minute delay to repair them. For the re-started race the duration was cut from 20 to 15 minutes as the timetable was now well behind schedule. This time there was no major accidents on lap 1, and things were soon changing at the front as Caudle passed Newstead for the lead at Folly on lap 2. Seconds later the battle amongst the leading quartet got ugly as contact at Quarry left Newstead in the barriers and out of the race early on.

The Safety Car made yet another appearance on lap 4, with a further 3 laps being completed before it came in at the end of lap 6. Immediately from the re-start the leading quartet made a break from the rest as they started battling for the lead of the race. Despite a valiant defence from Caudle eventually on lap 10 Knox and Duprey were able to force their way through at the Esses. From here the leading four circulated in a tandem on the final lap as Knox claimed his second victory of the day, moving him even further ahead in the championship battle. Duprey came home 2nd from Caudle in 3rd and Hamish Brandon in 4th, with Alan Taylor in 5th and Keith Issatt in 6th completing the significant placing’s. Much like Knox, Shane Stoney came through to take his 2nd Cooper class victory in the day as he cements his position at the top of his class standings.

After two good races from the Mini challenge, they now have two more meetings in their season although with only 4 races remaining it’s hard to look past Chris Knox and Shane Stoney as the class winners, based on their dominant showings here at Castle Combe.

Photo credits go to http://www.bam-promo.com/news/panda-racing/brandon-do-battle-and-fortify-points-position-castle-combe/ and
http://www.hornby.com/news/mini-challenge-tv-coverage-and-castle-combe-1st-august/

For more information on this championship please visit their official website here
http://www.minichallenge.co.uk/