Kevin Mills

Hoad shocks Formula Ford paddock with easy victory

The Castle Combe Formula Ford championship fired back into life this opening bank holiday Monday, with the grid improving in quality over the off-season. The championship has been a fan favorite since it’s inception in 1969, and still runs strong in 2015.

With an influx of returning star drivers it was somewhat of a surprise to almost everyone when sporadic Castle Combe Formula Ford racer Jonathan Hoad took pole position in his ex-works Duckhams 1990 Van Diemen RF90. Hoad has spent all winter preparing the car, and spent lots of time testing the car also, which helps to explain his pole position. The resurfaced track was clearly to everyone’s liking as the pole was was only fractionally off the lap record, set in 2008.

Roger Orgee came come to winning the title last year, and started this year from 2nd on the grid, whilst the returning Felix Fisher and Nathan Ward completed row two.At the start it was the returning and seriously fast Josh Fisher that made the best start, rocketing up from 5th on the grid to challenge for the lead going into Quarry on the opening lap.

By lap 2 it appeared all the off-season work was paying off for Hoad as he quickly built up a lead of several seconds over the chasing pack behind, with a five car train behind him fighting over 3rd position in the early laps. Lap 5 saw the fight for 3rd splinter into two separate fights, with Fisher, Ward and Orgee fighting over 2nd, whilst ex-champion Ed Moore, reigning double champion Adam Higgins and Luke Cooper fought over 5th position.

A lap later and the breakthrough was made in the fight for 2nd, with Nathan Ward passing Fisher, who dropped to fourth a lap later after being passed by Orgee. At this halfway stage of the race Hoad was comfortable out front, with a lead of 2.9 seconds over the rest, who were squabbling for positions themselves. The two separate battle for 2nd and now 6th were still going on, with Higgins managing to bridge the gap and join the battle for 2nd.

Sadly for Higgins, just as he joined the battle for 2nd, Orgee distanced himself from the bunch as he solidified himself in 2nd place, which in turn splintered the battle for 2nd into smaller battles for the lower placings in the top six. Into the final lap and Jonathan Hoad cruised home to a dominant lights to flag win in the opening round of the 2015 Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship, 3.3 seconds clear of Roger Orgee in 2nd. Nathan Ward completed the podium whilst Josh Fisher was lucky to survive late race contact with a back marker on Dean Straight on the final lap, as he could have easily lost a wheel after touching another car. He survived however and came home 4th,although Fisher can at least take solace from the fact he broke the long standing Class C lap record by a huge margin, beating the time set by former front runner Matt Rivett, set remarkably in September 2001. Adam Higgins and Felix Fisher will be slightly disappointed with 5th and 6th places respectively.

This opening round was a dominant masterclass from Jonathan Hoad, although with both Josh and Felix Fisher promising to return for more of the championship this season, alongside Adam Higgins, Nathan Ward and Roger Orgee who will look to knock him off his perch this season, Hoad will have his work cut out to remain on top as the season progresses. It shall be very interesting to watch how the season unfolds. For more information on this exciting championship please visit


Simon Tilling survives late scare to scrape Sports Racing Car win

After the action of the previous Pre-1982 Classic Formula Ford race, a contrast was provided next as the new for 2014 Castle Combe Sports Racing Car series took to the grid. Solely for the Sports prototypes which previously dominated the Sports @ GT series before complaints about the speed differentials and the amount of entries meant a split was announced for this year. Whilst the series has suffered growing pains in it’s first year with small grid the final race of the year provided plenty of optimism for next year as the series had it’s biggest and most competitive grid of the year.

After the morning’s wet qualifying session it was Tim Gray who took pole in his very impressive Spire GT-3 entry. Gray is a distinguished RGB and Bikesports racer and his Spire handled like it was on rails in the wet qualifying session and looked by far the fastest car on track to claim pole. Another newcomer to the series lined up 2nd, although the don’t lack experience with the circuit as the entry was from renowned Castle Combe Formula Ford racers Nick Jones and Kevin Mills racing. Mike Jenvey was yet another newer entry from an outside series in his self built Jenvey/Gunn TS6 and lined up 3rd with old circuit dominator Simon Tilling lining up 4th in his impressive Ligier JS49T.

With the dry and sunny conditions the complete opposite to qualifying a great race was predicted as those out of place after qualifying battled to improve their positions in the 20 minute race. The grid remained in largely the same order after the initial rolling start, although by the end of the lap the order changed at the front. Simon Tilling used the larger Honda engine in his Ligier and extensive circuit knowledge to blast into the lead and open a 2 second lead by the end of the lap.

Early on Tilling and Tim Gray were the pace setters with the rest falling away behind, although Mike Jenvey soon attempted to rectify this as he passed local man Darcy Smith in his Radical SR4 for 3rd on the inside at Camp on lap 2. The top 5 appeared to be strung out for this portion of the race, although the symmetry was broken on lap 6 as unfortunately Mike Jenvey pulled into the pits and was forced to retire his impressive Jenvey/Gunn hybrid. A lap later and Tim Gray began to get the wrath of the officials as he was shown the mechanical warning flag for the biblical noise coming from his Spire racer.

With the circuit now forced to heavily police it’s noise after being serviced with a noise nuisance order Gray was black flagged and forced to retire at the end of lap 8. With Gray and Jenvey out Tilling now had a huge lead over the new battle for 2nd between Darcy Smith and Nick Jones, although over the next few laps Smith was able to eke out a small gap to Jones. Behind their battle 4th place man Stephen Bracegirdle was slowing with a mechanical problem and was passed from 4th and 5th over several laps by firstly Chris Child and then a recovering Chris Vinall who spun to the back of the field on lap 1.

Simon Tilling was now beyond comfortable in his impressive Ligier VdeV racer, although he was at the center of the race’s late drama as he began slowing size-ably with only a few minutes left on the clock. His lead stood at 38 seconds but with Smith and Jones now catching him at the rate of 12-15 seconds per lap it seemed they might well be able to catch him. Going into the final half lap it looked like they might do it at the final corner, although Tilling just held them off enough to claim the victory by a whisker from Darcy Smith in 2nd with Nick Jones right behind him in 3rd.

Chris Child was 4th in his Nemisis with long time Combe racer Norman Lackford 5th before Stephen Bracegirdle limped home to complete the top 6. What had threatened to be a dominant victory provided late drama in arguably the best race of the season for this new Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series. Hopefully many of the impressive newcomers from this race will return for more in 2015, and held give the series some much needed momentum after a difficult debut 2014 season. For more information on this promising new series please visit their website below.

Castle Combe Formula Ford MSVR report 02/08/14

For the local spectators, one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the day was for the resident Castle Combe Formula Ford championship. This series always has tremendous competitor report and often produces scintillating races in arguable one of Britain’s most competitive Formula Ford championships. After a remarkable one-off return for previous champion Ben Norton at the double header meeting last time out, championship contenders Ashley Crossey, Roger Orgee and 2013 champion Adam Higgins were all looking to reassert their championship challenge in this race.

In qualifying it was Crossey who claimed yet another pole from team mate Nathan Ward whilst Orgee and Higgins had to be content with the second row after a wet qualifying session. A dry race however meant plenty of opportunities to challenge for the win, and Crossey grasped the first one with a great start off the line to grab an initial lead. The man on the move at the start was previous champion Ed Moore, who finally looked to have his Van Diemen JL013K sorted as he rocketed from 8th to lead at the end of lap 1 after diving inside Crossey at Camp to complete a first lap reminiscent of Ayrton Senna at Donington in 1993.

Next up to challenge Crossey was Adam Higgins, and he finally made a move stick on the inside at Tower on lap 3 to demote Crossey to 3rd. Unusually for a Castle Combe Formula Ford race, Moore was able to build a gap to rest of several seconds by lap 5 as he appeared to be cruising. He gap to the rest was short-lived however as the Safety Car was deployed on lap 6 to recover the Swift of guest driver Freddie Hunt, son of 1976 World Champion James Hunt, who had spun on oil and the Esses and was unable to continue.

By the end of lap 7 the Safety Car came in leaving Moore to defend his lead. Initially a two car break developed at the front consisting of Moore and Higgins, although the crucial moment of the race occurred on lap 9 as Moore also spun on the oil at the Esses, demoting himself to the rear of the top 10 as Higgins now led from the chasing pack behind. From here this 15 lap race turned into a 5 lap sprint as Higgins, Crossey, Ward and Orgee were fighting it out for the victory.

Lap 11 saw Ward make his way past team mate Crossey for 2nd and two laps later Ward went one better as he went inside Higgins into Quarry to take the lead. Ward’s lead was cut short however by a mistake at Bobbies on the same laps, which dropped him to 4th now. By the final lap the leading quartet had become a trio as Orgee drifted off the back of them as Higgins, Crossey and Ward battled for final lap glory.

A grandstand finish was all set up however the drama was provided slightly earlier than expected as Ward tried an ambitious move on team mate Crossey for 2nd on the inside at Tower, with the smallest of gaps for Ward closing up as he made significant contact with Crossey exiting the corner to spear both cars off into the outside tyre wall, thankfully without injury despite initial concerns. The removal of the Kevin Mills racing twins left Higgins free to take the victory, from a delighted Orgee in 2nd whilst Adam’s brother Richard Higgins continued his impressive rate of improvement to complete the podium.

Old circuit favourite Paul Barnes came through delighted with a 4th, his best result in years whilst Michael Bradley and Mark De Rozarieux completed the top 6 in another thrilling Formula Ford race at Castle Combe. Adam Higgins was delighted with his win and a 3rd for his brother will have made father and multiple ex-champion Bob Higgins very happy with their day’s racing. Crucially for both Higgins and Orgee their top 2 placing’s coupled with a non-score for championship leader Crossey means the title race is developing nicely heading into the final two meetings of the year.

For more info on this exciting local championship please visit the link below