May Bank Holiday Races Report Part 2

After the frenetic resident Formula Ford series there was no let up in the action as the Castle Combe Saloon car championship took to the grid. After qualifying a shock was provided as circuit favourite Gary Prebble managed to snatch pole in his first time driving friend Rob Ballard’s Seat Leon Cupra. Alongside him was the impressive Russell Akers in his uprated Vauxhall Astra. At the lights it was Akers who made the best start to grab an initial lead. Behind him Tony Hutchings improved on 3rd in his Audi TT by passing Prebble for 2nd on lap 2.

From here the leaders appeared to spread themselves out slightly however this calm period was ruined when Prebble re-took 2nd from Hutchings around the back portion of the circuit and was soon hustling Akers for the lead. Behind them a potentially big moment in the 2014 championship occurred as perennial class winner Adrian Slade lunched his gearbox going into Camp on lap 7 forcing him to retire from 4th.

From here the race was taking a calmer turn yet by the penultimate lap this was clearly over as both Prebble and Hutchings were looking to pass Akers going up Avon rise. The inevitable people feared occurred from here as Akers was potentially helped into a spin at Quarry although from my vantage point it looked as if he lost him all by himself. Either way he became a retirement and this settled the race as Prebble opened a small gap to take a very popular win from Hutchings in 2nd with Kevin Bird a long way back in his Renualt Megane completed the rostrum. The win was also significant for Prebble as he matched Bob Light’s all time win record at Castle Combe.

After that excitement it was the Nippon Challenge that was next up with their second race of the day. The first race finishing order from race 1 determining the grid for race 2 many waited to see if Simon James could improve on his third place grid slot after his race 1 heroics. At the lights it was pole man Adam Lockwood who made the best getaway with a similar outcome to race 1 as immediately him and second man James Janicki broke away from the pack by lap 1 with Lockwood then opening a gap to Janicki in second through laps 2-4. Although not quite as dominant as race 1 it was clear only mechanical/driver error would deny Lockwood a double win.

The spectator’s eyes were therefore drawn to the battle for 4th between Curtis Mitchell and Craig Rankine which was settled in Rankine’s favour on lap 7. At this point Lockwood had a 6 second lead however with only minute’s left in this 15 minute dash the red flag’s suddenly appeared after tail ender Jon Lord suffered a dramatic looking accident on the pit straight. After running wide at Camp he lost control on the grass with the rear hitting the tyres before sending the car into a sickening mix of barrel and end over end rolls before landing upside down. Luckily the roll cage did it’s job and Lord was quickly out of the car, yet this spelt the end of the race as Lockwood was declared the winner from Janicki and Simon James in 2nd and 3rd.

Net up on the time table was the new for 2014 Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series solely for sports prototype machines. After a thin first round entry the numbers were up slightly for this meeting as 7 cars ventured onto the grid. After missing the first round it was no surprise to see Simon Tilling on pole although this time he was driving his newly acquired VdeV spec Ligier JS49T and not his bright orange Radical. First round winner Norman Lackford lined up alongside him on the front row.

From the rolling start Tilling was dominant as he lapped several seconds a lap quicker than the rest in what was simply a shakedown session for his new car. Behind Lackford gave valiant chase with the only real action being Stephen Bracegirdle in his Nemisis passing Mike Roberts Radical SR8 for 3rd on lap 7 before pulling away. After a dominant 20 minute display Tilling took the win 30 seconds clear of Lackford in 2nd with Bracegirdle a lap down in 3rd.

The penultimate race of the race was the second stanza of the Toyota MR2 series with once again the finishing order from race 1 determining the grid for race 2. Therefore it was Paul Corbridge who was on pole from Nathan Harrison in second. From the lights Corbridge made a very good getaway whilst Harrison fell into the pack as he fluffed his start. This time around it was 4th man Neale Hurren who had vaulted his way up to 2nd at the start that was troubling Corbridge as they broke from the rest by the end of lap 1.

Harrison started his recovery drive by passing Eddie O’Kane for 4th going into Quarry on lap 5 before joining the battle between Jon Winter, Harrison, Peter Higton and race 1 pole man Aaron Pullan who had amazingly managed to fit a new clutch in the period between race 1 and 2 to start from the back. His lightning progress soon saw him win this battle as he snatched 3rd from Harrison on the inside at Tower on lap 8. Sadly he was left with not enough time to catch the leading two despite taking seconds a lap out of their lead he finished the race right on the tail of 2nd man Hurren with Corbridge only just up the road as he took the win.

The final race of this truncated programme was a Castle Combe open sports v saloons race with an eclectic entry. On pole was Chris Milner with his Caterham CSR with the VW Vento VR6 of Dave Scaramanga alongside him. From the start both front row men made good getaway’s as the rest were left for dead behind. Soon Scaramanga joined that list as Milner’s Caterham was so much quicker than the rest of the saloon entries.

Behind him the field was fairly evenly spread with no real significant battles being provided during the 10 lap dash. At the flag it was a delighted Chris Milner who took a very comfortable victory with Dave Scaramanga being the best saloon car home I 2nd, only 50 seconds down on Milner. Martin Perry completed the podium in his Fiat coupe to round out another great day’s racing at Castle Combe with the next meeting only 3 weeks away on the next Bank Holiday Monday.

For more details about the Castle Combe circuit please visit their website here

Also for anyone interested in the official results from yesterday’s meeting feel free to visit the TSL Timing link to all the official results here

May Bank Holiday Races Report Part 1

After a superb opening start to the 2014 Castle Combe season on Ester Monday, after what felt like no time at all the second Bank Holiday signalled another race meeting at Combe. The onus centred around the circuit’s local championships which were ably boosted by two races each for the visiting Nippon Challenge and Toyota MR2 series.

After a slight timetable change it was the Nippon Challenge that got us underway with their opening race of the day. On Pole position was the beastly 5 litre Toyota GT86 of Nick Holden with Adam Lockwood’s Nissan 200sx alongside. Both front row men made rapid getaway’s with Lockwood edging into the lead going into Quarry corner. From here things descended for Holden who went off on the first lap before re-joining well behind the rest of the pack in last.With Holden well down this set Lockwood free to open a commanding lead on the opening lap from the double Rockingham winner James Janicki, up from 4th on the grid.

As the first two were pulling away the excitement was provided by a battle for 3rd which saw Curtis Mitchell dive inside Ian Collins to claim the place going into Camp corner on lap 3. By lap 6 Lockwood had stretched his lead to 13 seconds, therefore attention turned to the remarkable drive from Simon James in his Citroen Saxo VTS, as he marched through the field from his lowly 31st starting position to stunningly pass both Collins and Mitchell for 4th and 3rd respectively on lap 10. For Lockwood however things were comfortable with his only issue being a driving standards warning flag on lap 11 as he cruised to a 24 second victory, his first of the year, from Janicki in 2nd with the amazing James completing the podium.

Next up was a fan favourite in the local Castle Combe Sports & GT Championship. Returning circuit favourite Simon Norris took pole in his monstrous Mitsubishi Evo 9 RS with the returning Chris Milner alongside in his Caterham CSR. Predictably off the line both cars made rocket getaway’s to streak ahead yet the early battle for the lead was contested by Keith Dunn, up from 4th on the grid, and Norris. After swapping places multiple times in the early laps Norris finally wrested the lead from Dunn on the pit straight to start lap 5, quickly opening a 3-4 second gap to ensure his lead was comfortable.

Behind them Milner finally passed the Mitsubishi of round 1 winner Barry Squibb for 3rd on lap 4. Things soon got worse for Squibb as his car developed a problem, allowing Tim Woodman and Ilsa Cox to take a slowing Squibb on Dean Straight on lap 7 for 4th and 5th respectively. This became the focal point for attention as a battle for 4th developed between the nimble Caterham 7 of Woodman and the more powerful Seat Leon Cupra of Ilsa Cox. Cox stole the 4th place from Woodman on lap 8 yet Woodman struck back to finally claim the place going into Quarry on lap 13. Up front the gap remained around 3.5 seconds until Norris came through for his first win of 2014 from Dunn in 2nd with Milner coming home an impressive third in his first race for 5 years.

The third race of the day was the opening Toyota MR2 race, in what is a highly supported series. Clutch troubles prevented pole man Aaron Pullan from starting the first race which left Paul Corbridge all alone on the front row. At the lights Corbridge made a good start but was almost mugged by the fast starting Nathan Harrison who rocketed up from 5th to 2nd in the drag up to Quarry corner. It was clear the first two meant business as the dropped the field early with Corbridge also edging away from Harrison by lap 3.

The next issue for Harrison was a closing Jon Winter, the first of the adjacent Hyundai Coupe series cars by lap 5. The rest of the race provided little drama apart from a squabble between Nathan Wright and Eddie O’Kane for 5th place which ended in tears for Wright as they collided at Quarry sending him into the barriers. All of this had little effect on Corbridge who eased to victory from Harrison in 2nd and a closing Winter in 3rd.

Next up was the highly anticipated Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship. After a fraught opening round a no less fraught race was expected this time around. Similarly to last time Ash Crossey took pole with Kevin Mills stable mate Nathan Ward alongside him on the front row. Crossey made a good getaway from pole as team mate Ward fluffed his start as he was swamped by the pack. The order was quickly changing as the recovering Luke Cooper disposed of the returning Felix Fisher for 4th into Quarry on lap 2.

The first 3 had other ideas however as Crossey, Ward and first round winner Roger Orgee made a break from the field early on. The drama was playing out behind them as 2013 champion Adam Higgins retired from 5th on lap 3. It wasn’t long before the lead three became the lead four as Cooper joined the battle. The constant lead changes were only halted when Ward made a mistake at the Esses, losing himself a lot of time and simultaneously breaking up the pack, leaving Crossey now with a 1.5 second lead over Orgee as Ward retired on Dean straight. Cooper also fell back at this time with a cooling problem leaving Crossey clear to claim his first win of 2014 from championship leader Orgee in 2nd and a slowing Cooper completing the podium.

Ayrton Senna: His legacy 20 years on

Throughout the world Ayrton Senna is known for being one of the greatest Formula One drivers of his generation, however in his native Brazil he is known more prominently as a sporting hero who made great strides in combating social problems such as poverty and illiteracy in Brazil. He primarily helped children and was someone who provided rare joy to a country experiencing many social, political and economic problems during his career.

Ayrton Senna Da Silva was born on March 21st 1960 in Pro-Matre Maternity Hospital of Santana, a neighbourhood of São Paulo to his parents Neide Senna Da Silva and Milton. He was born the middle child of the family with an older sister Vivane and a younger brother Leonardo, with the family giving Senna the nickname ‘Beco’. From an early age Senna excelled at physical sports and developed an interest in motor racing from the age of four years old. At the age of seven he first learned to drive the family car on their extensive land showing an early appetite for cars. Throughout his school life Ayrton was dedicated and recognised the importance of education, however his sporting ambitions always came first. Examples of this are the fact that once he started Go-Kart racing he would pay extra attention in class so that he would not have any schoolwork to do at home therefore giving him maximum time for his Go-Karting.

Also prevalent from an early age was his compassion and sympathy with those less fortunate than him, as the Senna family was well off financially. Even at a young age Senna was aware of those less fortunate with an example told often is of a poorer child in his neighbourhood being told by Senna to visit his house later on that day. The child remained sceptical of his intentions but when he eventually visited the Senna house Ayrton gave him his new expensive tennis racquet to help this poorer child out. His early passion for karting soon meant he was given his first homemade kart of which he spent almost all his spare time practising. Fairly soon after being given his first kart he was beginning to practise at the local Interlagos race track, often focusing on different corners to improve his technique and therefore his time. He was a frequent visitor to the track and he began to attract the attention of Brazilian racing hero Emerson Fittipaldi who was impressed with his talent and dedication.

As soon as Senna was 13 he was officially allowed to start kart racing in Brazil with a seemingly future prophecy coming in his first race as he drew pole position in the qualifying ballot. From the start he held the lead despite pressure from far more experienced karters he managed to maintain the lead until the final laps, when he was involved in a collision from which he had to retire. Despite the result it was an impressive debut from someone so inexperienced. After his family saw how committed and passionate he was about his karting they had no problems financially supporting him and he was soon enjoying the help of Lucio Gascon, who was universally known as one of the most influential kart tuners in the country.

Senna soon found success and by 1977 he had won the South American Karting Championship to go along with Brazilian national and state titles.1978 saw Senna begin to expand his horizons as this saw his first foray racing outside Brazil when he contested the 1978 World Karting Championship, a competition he contested ever year from 1978 to 1982, with his best results being close second places in both 1979 and 1980. Senna’s growing reputation in karts soon meant he was thinking of moving up and to pursue his dream of becoming a F1 world champion, he made the decision to move to England in late 1980 so that he could further his racing career. Before he left for England he married his current girlfriend and close family friend Liliane Vasconcelos, but they both found it initially difficult to adapt to the British lifestyle as they found themselves removed from a life of sunshine and endless material wealth to suddenly living in a small house in the cold British climate. Here’s an interview Senna did in 1993 where he talks about his karting memories.

For Senna this was simply something he had to do in order to realize his dreams and with the correct budget in place from his father he contacted leading Formula Ford boss Ralph Firman relating to a works Van Diemen drive for 1981. At this time Van Diemen was seen as the best in the Formula Ford business, which was also the primary starting point for any wannabe Formula One racer. After numerous tests where Senna showed his considerable speed to Firman, who was suitably impressed enough to offer him a works drive for 1981 alongside Mexican Alfonso Toledano and Argentinean Enrique Mansilla.
At this time Formula Ford had several main championships in Britain with the three most prestigious being the Townsend Thoresen, RAC and P&O championships, with each driver being assigned to one by Firman with their teammates also competing to help out the preferred driver in each championship. Senna was given the Townsend Thoresen title as his main championship however after a blistering season where Senna dominated taking 21 wins from 32 races he not only managed to win the Townsend Thoresen title but also the RAC title which demonstrated his talent. Despite this domination Senna was still unsure where his future lay in racing as he face considerable pressure from both his unhappy wife who wanted to return to Brazil and also from his family who wanted him to return to Brazil and begin in the family business. Senna in Formula Ford circa 1981.

This meant that in October 1981 he returned to Brazil after the racing season had finished with the only event he missed being the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, which was seen as the World Cup of Formula Ford. Senna however left Firman in the lurch and refused to return his calls forcing Firman to rope in his close friend and Formula Ford 2000 driver Tommy Byrne who suitably ended up winning the Festival, which is the result everyone expected. During the winter of 1981 Senna was very unhappy with being part of the family business and still wanted to return to Europe so that he could further his career. Finally in February 1982 Senna made the decision to return to Europe despite his family’s reservations and also his wife’s pressure, which led to their protracted divorce some time after.

After Senna returned to England in early 1982 he began trying to set up a deal for the coming season, despite what had happened the previous season Senna turned to Ralph Firman for help. Senna didn’t however want to return to Formula Ford in 1982 and wanted to progress to a higher category.
With his reputation rising after an impressive first season in Britain he wasn’t short of offers for 1982 and despite initial budget disputes Senna eventually joined the top line Rushen Green racing for the 1982 British and European Formula Ford 2000 series, the next step on the ladder to F1. Although the quality of the field was not seen as being exceptional Senna still managed to completely dominate the season both in Britain and Europe ending the year as both British and European Formula Ford 2000 champion. Here’s a small look at his 1982 season .

Going into 1983 his family wanted to take more of a back seat in terms of funding and therefore Ayrton had to attract sponsors if he was able to continue racing. Eventually he was able to attract funding from Banco do Brasil, Pool Jeans and Banerj which allowed him to tie up a deal with the top British F3 team West Surrey Racing run by Kiwi Dick Bennett. British F3 was seen at the time as one of the major worldwide championships for future talent and had produced many F1 world champions, therefore this represented for the first time a major test of Senna’s ability. Senna was becoming increasingly professional and before the 1983 season he decided to drop Da Silva from his name thinking Senna sounded more professional and unique. Senna in F3 circa 1983.

Armed with arguably the best team in the field and the latest Ralt RT3/83-Toyota package Senna had the equipment he needed to show his talent to the racing world. Senna showcased his skills by completely dominating the first half of the season as he took 9 wins and 8 poles from 9 races to give him a huge early lead in the championship. The second half of the season became a lot tougher for Senna however as his main title rival Martin Brundle in the Eddie Jordan Racing Ralt-Toyota began to seriously challenge and beat Senna which led to Senna’s driving becoming increasingly erratic in an attempt to keep up.

Senna was convinced Brundle’s car had an advantage and just before the last race of the season this was found to be newer, improved engines with Senna receiving this newer engine finally for the last race of the season at Thruxton, setting the scene for a title showdown between Senna and Brundle. From the start Senna led away and managed to keep a safe enough distance that he was never seriously challenged by Brundle behind and took a comfortable win, in the process becoming the 1983 British F3 champion. When he returned to the pits his family, which had travelled over from Brazil especially, were there to congratulate him with his future seeming bright with talk of a potential F1 deal for 1984. The winter of 1983 and beginning of 1984 was a busy and exciting time for Senna indeed.

In November 1983 Senna finished his F3 season by entering the Macau GP which was being run for the first time that year and attracted all the top F3 drivers from across the world with some F1 drivers even entering showing the significance of this race. Macau businessmen Teddy Yip entered Senna, Brundle and his F1 driver Roberto Gurrerro under the Theodore racing banner and Senna was soon setting the pace and in the 2nd qualifying session as he managed to taken pole for his heat.

From the start Senna made a tardy getaway and Gurrerro stormed into the lead however Senna soon re-took the place at the 3rd corner and from there managed to pull away enough not to be challenged in a similar manner to how he won the title decider at Thruxton. This meant Senna was on pole for the final and second time around managed to make a decent getaway to retain the lead. This was a major part of winning as Macau was a fast and challenging street track with the barriers being close enough to seriously challenge the drivers.

The track however posed no threat to Senna as he strolled to a very comfortable victory cementing his reputation as a future star in the making. His exploits had not gone unnoticed in the F1 community with the prestigious Williams team being the first team to offer Senna a test in July 1983 through Senna’s friendship with Williams he was invited to Donington to test the current FW08C-Cosworth car. Within 20 laps Senna had equaled the best time ever done at the track by current test driver Jonathan Palmer and soon after lapped even quicker, eventually taking the car round Donington faster than it had ever been before.
Surprisingly Williams had no further contact with Senna and his next F1 test was in October 1983 as a prize for winning the British F3 title McLaren gave him a prize test alongside other promising hopefuls Brundle, Stefan Bellof and Thierry Boutsen, all seen to be top line drivers of the future but of them it was Senna who lapped quickest and was actually faster that the McLaren drivers had driven at the British GP only a few months ago. Here’s a link to a roundup of his F1 tests in 1983 apart from Brabham.

Ron Dennis was hugely impressed by Senna and offered him a testing deal with McLaren with a view to a future race deal, the same deal Senna had turned down in 1982. Further interest was shown by current F1 world champions Brabham run by Bernie Ecclestone who offered him an F1 test in November of 1983 at the Paul Richard circuit against other young hopefuls, despite showing impressively the team’s Italian sponsors wanted an Italian driver for 1984 and therefore this ruled Senna out of contention. The final F1 team to show interest was the lowly Toleman team who had shown occasional promise in 1983 and had some up and coming talent within the team. Senna impressed them when he tested for them in late 1983 and in early 1984 they se themselves apart by offering him a race deal for that year.

After considering his options with his manager the only offers on the table were of a McLaren testing deal and the Toleman race deal. Despite McLaren being the best team in F1 at the time and Toleman being one of the worst he decided race experience was better than a testing deal and eventually signed for Toleman in a 3 year deal to partner teammate Johnny Cecotto. Senna tested for them before the season and for the first races of the 1984 season Senna had to make do with an updated version of the 1983 car for the Brazilian and in South African GP’s. He surprised the F1 paddock by scoring his first world championship point in South Africa with a 6th place.

On the other hand this race highlighted his physical weakness, as he had to be helped from the car. After this he focused on improving his fitness by hiring personal trainer Nuno Cobra to help with this. Back in Europe and Senna again scored a 6th place in Round 3 at Spa in Belgium before the new TG184 car was ready for round 4 at Imola in San Marino, this proved a frustrating weekend for Senna as tyre contract disputes meant he was not left enough time to make a proper qualifying run and therefore for the only time in his career Senna failed to qualify.

By far Senna’s best weekend of the year came at the most challenging track at Monaco where after qualifying 13th rain on race day disguised the deficiencies of his Toleman TG184 as he soon began demonstrating his talent by rapidly rising through the field to take 2nd from Niki Lauda on lap 19. He began closing rapidly on leader Alain Prost too and on lap 32 overtook Senna took the lead however on the same lap the race was stopped with the rules stating the result was based on the lap before meaning Prost took the win from a disgruntled Senna in 2nd. Senna claimed 2 further podiums in 1984 with 3rd’s in Britain and Portugal and ended the year in 9th place in the drivers’ championship with 13 points. This was an impressive debut season especially considering Senna missed 2 races through his DNQ in San Marino and his suspension from the Italian GP by Toleman because he breached his contract in signing for the more competitive Lotus team for 1985 also on a 3 year deal. Here’s highlights of the 1984 Monaco GP.

It did not take Senna long to adapt to the more competitive Lotus 97T-Renault as in Round 2 at Estoril in Portugal he took his first pole position and then when raceday dawned in torrential rain Senna showed his class to completely dominate the field and take his first win . As the season went on Senna had more success in qualifying than in the races as by the end of 1985 he had claimed 7 pole positions and through unreliability only 2 race wins both in the wet at Portugal and Belgium. He finished 4th in the drivers’ championship with 38 points however his intensity didn’t favor everyone as his teammate Elio De Angelis became increasingly frustrated by the bad treatment he received at Lotus as all their attention became focused on Senna, subsequently leaving to join the Brabham team for 1986.

The choice of his replacement became a controversial issue as the sponsors and team principal wanted Brit Derek Warwick, however Senna insisted Lotus wasn’t capable of running two fast drivers and vetoed Warwick. Lotus eventually signed another Brit in Johnny Dumfries however he never seriously challenged Senna throughout the year. 1986 was similar to 1985 as with the Lotus 98T-Renault he took 8 poles and 2 wins in Spain and Detroit to eventually finish 4th in the drivers’ standings with 55 points, but it could have been a much better season as he was leading the drivers world championship early on only for unreliability to tarnish his title hopes in 1986. Senna sliding his Lotus in 1986.

1987 saw big change for Lotus as their long standing relationship with Renault ended with the new Lotus 99T now being powered by Honda, starting a relationship that became very close to Senna during his F1 career. This also meant he received a new teammate in Satoru Nakajima. 1987 was a slightly more successful season for Senna in reliability as whilst he only claimed 1 pole and 2 wins, his first of many wins in Monaco, and again in Detroit alongside improved reliability meant he finished the year 3rd in the drivers title with 57 points. Senna realized Lotus couldn’t provide him with a title-winning car and it was announced in late 1987 he would join McLaren for 1988 alongside Alain Prost also with Honda power. Finally Senna has a car capable of winning the world title for 1988 with early tests showing the McLaren MP4/4-Honda to be almost 2 seconds quicker than the rest despite the car arriving late before the start of the season.

The 1988 F1 season is an illustration of a team having the almost perfect season as McLaren was totally dominant with Senna taking 13 from 16 poles and 8 wins with McLaren taking 15 from 16 wins. Many were surprised that Senna could beat Alain Prost who was seen as the best at the time. Although Prost finished the season with more points than Senna dropped scores meant the title was won by Senna by 3 points (90-87). Senna almost lost this title through greater inconsistency compared to Prost however this season was the first where Senna could be seen as the season’s benchmark driver with his highlight and low point of the season both being in Monaco. In qualifying he managed to set a time 1.5 seconds faster than Prost astounding the F1 paddock that Senna could be so much faster. He duly dominated the race and was closing in on victory when he lost concentration and crashed putting himself out and handing Prost the win thanks to a rookie mistake. Also this season saw the first break in the Senna/Prost relationship as in Portugal Prost went to overtake Senna who used what was seen as overly aggressive tactics in blocking Prost who still managed to make it through. Senna on his way to a first title in 1988.

1989 saw the banning of the turbo engines which had be so effective for Honda in 1988 and some doubted if the McLaren MP4/5-Honda could maintain its superiority in 1989. Although the season was less successful for McLaren with a greater unreliability McLaren still possessed the fastest car as was shown by Senna who again took 13 from 16 poles and 6 victories. This however was a very controversial year for McLaren as the Senna/Prost relationship disintegrated to the point of not speaking to each other. The bad blood built up until it reached a peak at the title deciding Japanese GP where Senna needed to win to keep his title hopes alive. From the start Prost made a better getaway and led from Senna. Going into the later laps Senna began to close on Prost until he attempted a move on Lap 46 which ended badly with both colliding and going off the track. Prost jumped from his car whereas Senna waited for the marshals to push him back onto the track after missing one corner. Senna subsequently rejoined and won the race before being disqualified for missing part of the track leaving Prost with the title in 1989. This incensed Senna who even thought about quitting the sport during the winter of 1989/1990. Here’s a link to the infamous 1989 incident between Prost and Senna.

1990 was a pivotal season for Senna who very late in the day decided to continue with F1 and McLaren. The ramifications of the previous season were that Prost moved to Ferrari to be replaced by Austrian Gerhard Berger. 1990 saw Senna again maintain his title of the fastest man in F1 with 10 poles from 16 and 6 wins teamed with a greater consistency meaning again a title showdown was set for the Japanese GP however this year if Prost failed to finish Senna would be champion. Senna duly took pole however he was incensed when it was then moved to the dirtier side of the track, which he saw as favoring Prost. Therefore at the start as predicted by Senna Prost made the better start however going into the first turn Senna lunged to the inside into a disappearing gap eventually making contact with Prost and finishing the race for both men ensuring Senna took his second world title (78 to Prost’s 71). Here’s footage of the other infamous incident between Prost and Senna in 1990.

Many have since questioned the motives of this move with many stating that Senna deliberately drove into Prost as revenge for the previous year which was something Senna hinted as being true a year later. Either way this has become one of the most controversial moments in F1 history alongside the actions in 1989 and many people connected with racing have diminished the legacy of Senna citing this case as an example. Also many have refused to rank Senna as a truly great driver because of the incident, which is arguably the most damaging of his career. Some were worried the 1991 season was going to carry on in a similar vain to 1989/1990 however 1991 saw a cooling of the Prost/Senna dispute with their performance being a big factor. Whilst McLaren continued to be the best team as Senna used the McLaren MP4/6-Honda to take 8 poles and 7 -wins including taking the first 4 poles and wins of the season setting a record.

Meanwhile Prost and the Ferrari underachieved failing to take a single pole or win before embarrassingly being sacked from Ferrari before the last race of the season for negative comments he made about the car. However in the German GP he was again critical of Senna and his defensive tactics before promising to help rival Nigel Mansell in the title battle after a closely fought dice on the track for position which eliminated Prost from the race.
Senna faced a new challenger in the highly sophisticated Williams-Renault and Nigel Mansell seriously challenged Senna before eventually spinning out of the Japanese GP to hand Senna his third world title by 24 points 96-72 in a much more sporting championship free from major controversy. This seemed to be the year Senna validated himself as a great becoming the then youngest ever 3-time world champion.

1992 was a unhappy year for Senna as the sophisticated Williams-Renault package which had challenged in Mansell’s hands in 1991 significantly improved leaving it clear from the rest and for the first time since Senna joined McLaren they did not have the fastest car and lagged behind Williams in the technological race rendering them uncompetitive in 1992.Senna only managed to take 1 pole but used his talent to take 3 wins including an iconic drive in the late stages of the Monaco GP as Mansell suffered problems and rejoined behind Senna with 7 laps to go. Despite the Williams being a much faster car Senna managed to successfully defend his lead to take a record equaling 5th Monaco win. Senna stoutly defending at Monaco in 1992.

Despite 3 wins his unreliability meant he only finished the season in 4th place on 50 points only 1 ahead of teammate Gerhard Berger. The only saving grace for Senna was that Prost was on a sabbatical and therefore again this season was free from major controversy. 1992 was also significant as Honda pulled out of F1 at the end of the year severely affecting Senna who had built a very close relationship with them even crying during a interview during the Japanese GP, held at a Suzuka track owned by Honda.Senna ended 1992 debating whether to take a year out from F1 in 1993 as he felt he had no chance of winning the title with the Williams being so dominant and Honda pulling out of the sport. Senna was reluctant to test the new McLaren MP4/8-Ford however when he finally did he was impressed with the new car but still only agreed to sign a race by race deal with McLaren.

Berger had rejoined Ferrari for 1993 so American Michael Andretti joined him. Again Senna only took 1 pole however he showed his considerable ability by taking 5 wins including the European GP at Donington which is widely known as one of the most masterful victories in F1 history after Senna went from 5th to take the lead on the first lap before dominating the race. He also claimed a record breaking 6th win in Monaco, a record that still stands. Senna improved to 2nd in the drivers table on 73 points however he was increasingly unhappy with the dominance of the Williams and actively tried to join them for 1993 unsuccessfully however when Prost retired he took his place at Williams for 1994 ending a tumultuous yet highly successful 6 year association with McLaren. Here’s a link to Senna’s dominant opening lap at the 1993 European GP.

1994 was a season many predicted as being a dominant one for Senna and Williams but the sophisticated electronic aids helping the driver, pioneered so effectively by Williams were banned for 1994 leaving the title more wide open than many believed. The first few races highlighted this as although Senna took 2 poles he failed to finish both through errors whilst his teammate Damon Hill was not near the front with many believing Hill’s performances was a true reflection of the car and Senna was masking it’s true ability. Going into the San Marino GP a Senna victory was seen as a necessity as Senna again took pole from title leader Michael Schumacher in the Benetton-Ford. The weekend was marred by tragedy however as in Friday qualifying Senna protégé Rubens Barrichello severely crashed his Jordan-Hart and was lucky to emerge unhurt, whilst in Saturday qualifying Austrian Roland Ratzenberger in the lowly Simtek-Ford crashed heavily. Despite immediate medical attention Ratzenberger was pronounced dead soon after the accident. This was the first fatality in F1 for 8 years and many were shocked with everyone simply wanting the weekend to be over. Senna spinning off in Brazil 1994.

The race still went ahead and from the lights Senna took the lead however a big crash behind brought out the safety car with Senna at the front. The safety car went in at the end of lap 6 and Senna was immediately on the pace trying to build a gap to Schumacher despite the car not yet at its optimum after the safety car with visible sparks showing how hard he was pushing. Indeed his lap 6 time would only be bettered later on by two other drivers despite the cars running much lighter fuel loads throughout the race.At the beginning of lap 7 Senna entered Tamburello corner however half way through the corner the car veered off the track violently with Senna slamming into the wall in a massive accident. Medical assistance was swift however early on they could see it was going to be a serious injury especially around his head. He was airlifted to a local hospital with the whole paddock anxious for information with many rumors on his condition circling.

The race was restarted with Schumacher taking a hollow victory however the paddock was shocked to hear that at 6.40pm Senna was declared dead from a fatal head injury caused by the crash. Immediately the news spread round the world and in Brazil 3 days of national mourning were announced. His body was returned to Brazil on the 3rd May two days after the accident with a full military salute given before a state funeral on the 5th May in Sao Paulo with many of the racing community attending as well as millions who lined the streets to pay their respects to him. A photo from Senna’s funeral showing his public support.

In conclusion the social impact of Ayrton Senna is something which is hard to measure definitively. What is clear however that is during his career Brazil was experiencing many problems relating to the economy and government and whereas other sporting heroes tried to hide their Brazilian roots Senna provided hope and joy for the country as every time he won he would proudly wave the Brazilian flag. His social impact was not just emotional and throughout his career his donated tirelessly to charities with some estimates suggesting he donated up to £400 million over his career and just before his death he was planning to start a charity in Brazil helping underprivileged children and this still lives on in his honor with the Ayrton Senna Institute helping millions of children through education and a wide range of activities since 1994.

The best indicator of the social impact Ayrton Senna had on Brazil is the reaction to his death as in Brazil the country going into three days of national mourning and the fact millions lined the streets to pay their respects at his funeral. His lasting impression on Brazil is another significant sign of his social impact as on May 1st every year Senna is remembered throughout Brazil and worldwide both inside and outside the racing community showing that Senna was more than just a racing driver to many and his social impact spreads well beyond motorsport.

By Jordan Wilkins

Castle Combe Howard’s Day Meeting report part 1

With the late arrival of Easter this year the new 2014 Castle Combe car racing season finally got underway this Easter Monday with a packed programme full of British manufactures in memory of previous circuit saviour and long time owner Howard Strawford, who tragically passed away before the start of the 2013 season.

The decent sunny weather helped draw in the crowds for the first meeting which began with an old favourite, the Dunlop Mini 7 championship. These original Mini’s always produce top quality racing and the first of their two 10 lap races was eagerly anticipated. Pole man Gareth Hunt slightly jumped the start which allowed second man Andrew Deviny to claim the lead off the line.

At the end of the first lap Hunt slowed suddenly and retired soon after with what appeared to be a transmission or gearbox issue. After this Deviny was able to just about hold off the challenges from behind to claim the victory, from Ashley Davies in 2nd and Graeme Davis in 3rd, both close behind at the finish. Ross Billison was 4th from S class winner Ian Deviny in 5th and it was Keiran McDonald that rounded out the top 6.

Next up was the first of two 15 minute Lancaster Insurance MGOC races, with the swarm of MG ZR’s expected to dominate the race. Ben Palmer claimed pole from Lee Sullivan, both in ZR’s, with both making good starts yet it was Palmer who had the ideal line for the first kink at Folly and therefore took an early lead. Initially Palmer and Sullivan were squabbling for the lead before Sullivan began to slip away as he began to be challenged for 2nd by Andrew Rogerson on lap 2.

Rogerson finally made his way past into 2nd on lap 4 but by this point Palmer had already opened a comfortable lead. Behind the lead three the excitement of the race was the battle developing on lap 6between Gary Smith, Fergus Campbell and Vince Pain for 4th. The battle wasn’t slowing them up however as the sucked 3rd man Sullivan into their battle by lap 8, the same lap Pain took Campbell for 5th on the inside going into Quarry. Pain was the man on the move as twice on the final lap he made up places by taking Smith for 4th at Folly and then going inside Sullivan into the Esses for 3rd in a masterful race for him. In front however Ben Palmer cruised home to a comfortable lights to flag victory from Andrew Rogerson in 2nd and Vince Pain in 3rd. Lee Sullivan was 4th, Gary Smith was 5th and finally Fergus Campbell rounded out the top 6.

Something new for 2014 at Castle Combe is a new six round Sports Racing Car Series, a new series aimed at giving both the sports prototypes and GT cars from the Sports and GT championship fair races and chances to compete with similar levels of competition. As with most new championships the first race saw a small grid for the 20 minute race. After Alan Hamilton pulled off on the formation lap it was sadly only left to 5 cars to start the race. Pole man Norman Lackford made the best start from the rolling grid as 2nd man Andy Crockett initially struggled. Crockett soon made up for it however as when the Safety Car came out to retrieve Hamilton’s car at the end of lap 1 it was Crockett who led.

The Safety Car went in after only 1 lap on lap 2 at which point Crockett and Lackford resumed their battle. Lackford finally took the lead on the inside at Tower on lap 5 however the gap between the two ebbed and flowed as Lackford was unable to shake Crockett completely. Behind them Robert Gillman passed a slowing Neil Harris for 3rd on the start/finish straight on lap 15. Back at the front the battle for the lead came to it’s conclusion as Crockett pushed slightly too hard going into Tower on lap 15 and spun off into retirement. This left Norman Lackford to take a comfortable victory over a lapped Robert Gillman in 2nd and Richard Gray in 3rd. This race was the perfect validation to the old racing cliché you only need two cars to make a motor race.

Next up was the first of the two 10 lap races for the more powerful Dunlop Mini Miglia championship. These original Mini’s boast 1300cc engine compared to 1000cc engines for the 7’s. There was drama before the start as pole man Aaron Smith was out before the race even started with an unspecified problem. This left Daniel Wheeler alone on the front, therefore it was no surprise he made the best getaway to take an early lead as behind him Kane Astin in 3rd made a shocker of a start as he was swallowed up by the chasing pack.

It didn’t take long for the order to change as Richard Casey took 3rd from Niven Burge on the inside at Folly on lap 2. Astin soon recovered from his poor start and was swapping the lead with Wheeler several times between laps 3 and 5. Soon this changed however as David Drew moved up to 2nd on lap 6 as the 4 car train for the lead held station for a few laps. Amazingly Rupert Deeth joined the lead battle in a remarkable race for him as he made his way up from 15th to 3rd on lap 9 and then passed Drew at the Esses on the final lap to steal 2nd. Daniel Wheeler claimed the win from Rupert Deeth in 2nd and finally David Drew in 3rd.

The halfway point of the meeting was reached with the first round of the eagerly anticipated 2014 Castle Combe Formula Ford championship. Many of the contenders from 2013 returned and first blood went to Ashley Crossey who planted his Kevin Mills Spectrum on pole from team mate Nathan Ward in 2nd. Crossey came on strong during the year yet at this point it’s unclear whether he will compete in the full championship or not, therefore it appeared a crucial confidence boost if he could grab an early win. Pole man Crossey made a good start likewise 2013 champion Adam Higgins up from 5th, meanwhile Roger Orgee fluffed his start from 3rd. The first lap is usually frantic and this was no exception as Nathan Ward out braked himself at the Esses before re-joining and promptly retiring at Bobbies all on the opening lap.

Crossey had a big early lead yet behind him first Orgee then Higgins passed 2004 and 2007 champion Ed Moore for 2nd and 3rd on laps 4 and 5 respectively. Crossey was suffering with a misfire however and was soon caught and passed by Orgee on the inside at Tower on lap 6. Crossey showed his strength however as he re-took the lead at Quarry on lap 10. By this point Higgins had joined the battle and promptly took 2nd from Orgee up Avon Rise on lap 11 before repeating the trick on Crossey for the lead a lap later, with Orgee following him through into 2nd. The drama wasn’t over however as Orgee made a move inside at the Esses to steal the lead from Higgins, who then tried a last lap lunge at Camp which didn’t come off. Behind him however his brother Richard Higgins showed him how to do it by completing his Camp lunge at Crossey to steal 3rd on the last lap.