Barry Squibb dominates Sports @ GT field

The final race of the day was for the third of the resident series here at Castle Combe, the Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship. The series is building momentum again this year after it’s removal of the sports prototype cars from the series last year. As the grid lined up for their race, the conditions were getting increasingly worse as the rain continued to fall, the circuit down drenched and very wet.

Barry Squibb was looking likely to take victory barring mechanical problems in his 4 wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo 9 RS, as he lined up on pole. He was alone on the front row as second place starter Ilsa Cox was not able to make the start after her engine overheating issues in the two earlier Classic Thunder races. Perry Waddams and his monstrous TVR Tuscan lined up third, with Dylan Popovic and his unique Avatar sports car completed row two.

At the start it was no surprise for the remaining crowd to see Squibb fully utilize his 4wd traction as he romped away from the field at the line. Perry Waddams bogged down in his TVR, leaving Dylan Popovic giving valiant chase to Squibb in his Marlin. At the end of lap one Squibb’s lead was already huge, as Perry Waddams recovered from his poor start to pass Popovic for 2nd on lap two, quickly building a gap to him. Gary Prebble’s brother Adam Prebble was rising quickly up from 5th on the grid in his Rover Tomcat, passing Popovic for 3rd on lap three.

Even in the early laps Squibb was building a huge advantage over the rest of the now strung out field, although Adam Prebble was now doing his best to close on Waddams for second. The hard charging Prebble paid the price for his exuberance however, as he suffered a high speed spin going up Avon Rise on lap 5, although he was luckily able to re-join still secure in his third place.

After this spin the field was still very much spread out as everyone simply tried their best to remain on track in the treacherous conditions. The remaining laps were played out to a field spread out and conditions that were getting increasingly worse. After ten very wet laps Barry Squibb was able to claim the victory, a whopping 44 seconds clear of Perry Waddams, trailing behind in 2nd in his TVR. Adam Prebble was a further 12 seconds as he completed the podium.

Dylan Popovic came home 4th in his Marlin, with John Avery doubling up after his Saloon race to claim 5th, with James Blake completing the top six in his MG ZR. Although this wasn’t the best advert for the always popular Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship, this is down to the bad conditions and had little to do with the drivers on the grid. The series will hopefully continue to grow this year to the point it was at before when the sports prototypes also made up the grid. For more information on this series please visit their website below.


Orgee Claims Masterful Formula Ford Victory

The resident Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship has always been a fan favorite, with the series running since 1969, making it the longest running single make championship in the country. For this televised round, grizzly conditions greeted the drivers as they headed out to the grid. The threat of rain appeared imminent in the grey clouds above, ensuring a very greasy circuit for the drivers.

After qualifying it was Michael Moyers who claimed pole for Kevin Mills Racing in his Spectrum chassis, with the returning ex-champion Ben Norton taking second on the grid. Nathan Ward and Felix Fisher would share row two. At the start it was Moyers who made the best getaway from pole, as he claimed the early lead. The rainfall began almost immediately, with a light rain covering the circuit in a light layer of moisture.

Michael Moyers was able to build an early lead of several seconds from the chasing pack, although he undid his hard work at the end of the opening lap as he spun whilst putting the power down exiting the Bobbies chicane. His quick pirouette left him in on the fringes of the top six, as he worked to get back to the front. Ben Norton inherited the lead, with Josh Fisher having a remarkable opening few laps to rise from 9th on the grid to challenge Norton for the lead. Wet weather specialist Luke Cooper and Roger Orgee were all fighting with Norton for the lead in the early laps.

Ben Norton was just about able to hold on to his lead, although he was the next to throw away his chances of victory as the conditions caught him out at Camp on lap 4, with his spin onto the wet grass eliminating him from contention as he was forced to retire, as the talented Josh Fisher therefore inherited the lead.

With Norton’s car in a precarious position at Camp, the Safety Car was scrambled on lap 6 to safely recover it. This took no time at all, therefore the Safety Car was only out for one lap before returning to the pits at the end of the lap. Fisher set about building a gap to the rest, who squabbled behind him. His cushion didn’t last long however, with Roger Orgee and Luke Cooper challenging him for the lead on lap 8. A lap later and Orgee managed to breach Fisher’s defenses, taking the lead with a great move on the outside of Quarry.

From here Orgee was able to just about hold on for the remaining one and a half laps, as he secured his first victory of the season as he looks to avenge his final race title defeat last season this year. Josh Fisher will have been delighted with his second from 9th on the grid, especially as this season’s he’s racing a Class C 1989 Reynard car against much newer machinery. Wet weather specialist Luke Cooper was another driver in an older spec car as he claimed the final podium place.

Reigning double champion Adam Higgins came home a solid 4th, from the recovering Michael Moyers in 5th and Josh’s brother Felix Fisher in 6th. This was another entertaining race for the Castle Combe spectators, once again proving a great advert for the circuit own resident championship’s. It’s a shame however that the conditions were not better for the drivers as they struggled in the very slippery conditions. For more information on this amazing series please visit their website below.

Hutchings Wins Close Fought Castle Combe Saloons encounter

The halfway point of this packed MotorsTV live race day meeting at Castle Combe saw the resident Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship line up on the grid. The series, supported by On-Pole high performance consultancy, has always enjoyed packed grids, although this race was a new high point for the local championship. A whopping 42 cars lined up on a grid which stretched round Camp corner.

Local favorite Gary Prebble claimed pole position by 1.4 seconds, from round one winner Tony Hutchings in second. Dave Scaramanga again impressed in his new VW Scirocco in third, from James Winter in fourth. As the lights turned green, it was veteran Mark Wyatt who made the best start from 5th on the grid, as Tony Hutchings claimed the early lead. Hutchings was immediately hounded by Gary Prebble and his Seat Cupra, eventually diving down the inside of Hutchings to claim the lead at Camp on lap 2, with barely enough room for both to make it round the corner.

For the rest of the race both would be glued together, although Hutchings was never quite close enough to make a serious attempt at passing Prebble for the lead. As the race entered it’s later stages the status quo appeared to have been established, however an abundance of traffic for leader Prebble through the race again going up Avon Rise on lap 9. With Prebble boxed in and forced to brake, Hutchings was able to just about squeeze past the back markers to steal an unlikely lead from Prebble late on. It was hair raising stuff and exciting viewing for both the spectators and TV audience at home.

Gary Prebble tried every trick he knew to re-claim the lead in the later laps, with his best move coming on the penultimate lap, as he tried an audacious around the outside move at Camp. The move very nearly came off for Prebble, however a previous oil spill at Camp meant he lost grip mid-corner, as he was forced wide and onto the grass, losing several seconds to Hutchings. This buffer would prove enough for him to breathe easy on the final lap as Tony Hutchings came home to his second win of the season from an exasperated Gary Prebble in second.

These two were comfortably ahead of the rest throughout the race, with Dave Scaramanga completed the podium in a lonely third place, with James Winter equally comfortable in 4th. Bill Brockbank and Mark Wyatt completed the top six, in yet another thrilling Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship round. The audience would have been thrilled yet again, in what was a great advert for this local championship to a worldwide audience. For more information on this great series, please visit their website below.

Stephen Primett dominates two Thermex Classic races

Just as the sunshine began to turn into precarious looking grey crowds, the Thermex Classic Saloons grid formed up, anticipating their opening 15 minutes race of the day. Stephen Primett claimed a dominant pole by roughly three seconds in his Ford Escort, whilst David Osborne was second on the grid in his Triumph Dolomite Sprint. Nic Strong and David Howard shared the second row of the grid.

As the lights went out it was David Osborne from second on the grid who rocketed into the lead, closely followed by the Jaguar XJ12 of David Howard from 4th on the grid, leaving Primett well behind as he fell back into the pack after his bad getaway. His bad start didn’t affect him for too long however, as Primett soon passed Howard and then out dragged leader Osborne in his Dolomite Sprint to blast the Escort into the lead up Avon Rise on lap 2. Howard wanted in on the action, relegating Osborne to 3rd at the next corner exiting Quarry.

Primett and Howard were now solidified as the top two, as Osborne was still reeling from going from the leader to third so quickly as he dropped back from the leading duo. Primett was clearly a man on a mission, building his lead to roughly five seconds by lap six. An entertaining fight was going on behind the lead trio, with Nic Strong defending for dear life as Alan Greenhalgh and Mostyn Ritter smelled blood and his 4th place.  After several potential moves failed to come off, Greenhalgh finally breached the valiant defenses of Strong to claim 4th place with a great around the outside move at Tower on lap 8.

Back at the front and Primett was still extending his lead over Howard in 2nd, whilst once again the battle for 4th was not over as Strong took advantage of back markers and Greenhalgh being held up to reclaim 4th position on the run into Quarry on lap 11.This battle refused to die with Greenhalgh taking the right side past a back marker to re-pass Strong at Hammerdown on lap 12, with the battle finally resolved on the final lap as Mostyn Ritter put himself between the two as he took 5th from Strong at Quarry.

This battle was irrelevant however for Stephen Primett romped home to a comfortable victory, with David Howard and David Osborne equally comfortable with 2nd and 3rd respectively. The next trio came home glued together with Alan Greenhalgh finally coming out on top in their race long fight to claim 4th position, with Mostyn Ritter and Nic Strong valiant in defeat with 5th and 6th respectively.

The Thermex Classic Saloon car grid re-formed for the penultimate race of this packed MotorsTV race day, and their second race of the day. This race was unfortunately reduced from 15 to 12 minutes, with intense rainfall only making this race a lot harder for the competitors. With the grid based on the race one results it was Stephen Primett on pole once again, with David Howard sharing the front row with him. David Osborne and Alan Greenhalgh comprised row two.

As the green lights went out it was the heavy Jaguar XJ12 of David Howard which went into the lead, as everyone scrabbled for grip on the treacherous surface. Primett once again made a bad start, but recovered sufficiently to lead by several seconds at the end of lap one. From lap one onwards it was clear that Howard was struggling massively, as John Wright shot up from 9th on the grid to pass him for 2nd on lap two, with Osborne following him through to demote Howard to 4th by the end of the lap.

It seemed Primett was dialed into this track, no matter whether conditions were dry or wet, his built his lead in a dominant fashion. Alan Greenhalgh was challenging David Osborne for 3rd on lap five, although Neil Bray was another driver charging up the field from 7th on the grid, passing both of them over the next few laps to solidify himself in 3rd. As Stephen Primett stroked it home in very difficult conditions for a second victory of the day, the battle for 2nd developed with Neil Bray falling just 0.3 seconds from stealing 2nd from John Wright, although both finished 29 seconds behind winner Primett. David Osborne came home 4th, with Alan Greenhalgh close behind in 5th, whilst Malcolm Jeffs completed the top six in his beautiful Alfasud.

The two races for the Thermex Classic Saloon Car series provided some great battle throughout the field, however Stephen Primett was simply in a class of his own at Castle Combe, winning both races dominantly as the rest fought amongst themselves behind him. For more information on this exciting series please visit their website below.

Rogerson claims two comfortable MG wins

The Lancaster Insurance MG Owners Club Championship are always popular a regular visitor to Castle Combe, with their latest double header round coming in this MotorsTV race day meeting. With the TV camera’s following both races everyone was keen to impress in front of an international audience.

As the grid lined up for their opening 15 minute race it was Andrew Rogerson who lined up on pole position, with Martin Willis sharing the front row with Rogerson. Simon Kendrick was the first of the MGF entries in third, whilst Adam Jackson and his MG ZR completed row two. As the lights went out it was Simon Kendrick who made the best start from third on the grid, although it wasn’t long before Martin Wills had stolen the lead, quickly building up an advantage of several seconds by the end of the opening lap.

The first lap started so brightly for Kendrick from 3rd on the grid, although it soon deteriorated as he first lost the lead to Wills, before losing 2nd place to pole man Rogerson at Camp to complete his opening lap decline. Things did not get any easier for Kendrick as he was soon being challenged for 3rd by Adam Jackson, whilst at the front Wills and Rogerson were extended their gap over the rest of the field.

Andrew Rogerson was clearly in a determined mood after his bad start, as he stormed inside Martin Wills for the lead at the Esses on lap 3, and quickly set about building a lead of several car lengths. In this middle portion of the race Rogerson set to work steadily building his lead to several seconds over Wills in a lonely 2nd position.

In the later stages of the race, attention switched from the lead to the building battle for 3rd, with Kendrick defending from Mark Baker and Jackson, who had recently lost his 4th to Baker earlier on in lap 9. A lap later and Jackson re-took 4th from Baker at Bobbies, whilst things soon got worse for Baker as he lost 5th to David Mellor going up Avon Rise.

Just as the race seemed set for Martin Wills, his 2nd place was briefly put under pressure as he suffered a disagreement with a back marker, forcing him to go off track and endure a grassy moment. Luckily for him his lead was significant enough that he was able to re-join with his 2nd position still comfortable. Comfortable is the perfect word to describe Andrew Rogerson’s victory. He cruised home to a comfortable opening victory, with Martin Wills equally comfortable in 2nd also. Simon Kendrick held on to his 3rd position at the flag, closely followed by Adam Jackson, David Mellor and Mark Baker in 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.

Unlike many series, the MG championship decides it’s second race grid based on the drivers second fastest times during the morning qualifying session, rather than simply producing the grid based on the results of the first race.This meant that for the second race it was once again Andrew Rogerson who claimed pole, with Adam Jackson this time sharing the front row with him. David Mellor lined up 3rd with Nick Golhar completing row two.

From the green light it was Adam Jackson who made the best start to take an early lead, although by the end of lap 1 Andrew Rogerson had once again taken the lead as he went inside Jackson for the lead. With the second race reduced from 15 to 12 minutes because of the tight scheduling issues of the day, it was clear Rogerson would need to quickly build an advantage to solidify his second win of the day.

At the back of the field there was excitement early on also, as Martin Wills was rocketing up the field after he started at the back because he strangely enough decided to change his car. He had decided to change from his ZR which took him to 2nd in race 1, to his MGF for this second race, however he was forced to start at the back because he hadn’t qualified in his MGF car.

During the opening lap Wills charged up from 22nd on the grid to 7th, before quickly passing Paul Wisbey for 6th at Camp on lap 2. In the early laps Rogerson set about building a lead of 1.5 seconds as Jackson was left trailing behind in second. The middle portion of the race saw an exciting battle for 3rd between Simon Kendrick,Mark Baker,David Mellor and Martin Wills, as they constantly changed position during the next several laps.

Wills carried on his charge up the field by passing David Mellor for 5th at Quarry on lap 6.He subsequently got lucky a lap later as he was able to pass Mark Baker for 4th after Baker ran wide at Camp, and things soon got worse for Baker as he spun off and into retirement at Tower later on in the lap. The drama wasn’t quite over at the front also as Simon Kendrick dramatically spun out of 3rd at Quarry, rejoining well down in 10th position.

From here it was all plain sailing for the leaders as Andrew Rogerson once again claimed a comfortable victory, with Adam Jackson was equally comfortable in his second position.Martin Wills inherited his final podium position after the Kendrick spin, something he held onto to the flag to complete his charge up the field from the back in his MGF. David Mellor came home 4th, Paul Wisbey was 5th whilst Stuart Plotnek completed the top six in this second MG encounter.

The series always provides entertainment to the Castle Combe crowd, and whilst this year their were two dominant victories for Andrew Rogerson, there were still some exciting battles behind Rogerson. The series always brings good support to Castle Combe, and for more information on the series please visit their website below.

Hickton,West Share Pre-93 Touring Car Victories at Combe

The opening race after the lunch break kicked off the TV portion of the race meeting, with MotorsTV beginning their afternoon’s live coverage. First up was the SVG Motorsport Pre-93 Touring Car Championship, which for their two races here at Castle Combe were joined by the Burton Power Blue Oval Saloon Series and the Toyo Tires Pre-05 Production Touring Car Series to complement the grid.

For the opening 15 minute race it was Kevin Willis who took pole position in his BMW M3, with the leading Blue Oval runner Olly Allen sharing the front row in his Ford Fiesta. David Hickton qualified 3rd whilst Andy West would share the second row with him in 4th. The drama began at the start when Olly Allen dramatically jumped the start to take an early lead, whilst behind him 6th man Demetris Neophytou stalled his Ford Fiesta, unfortunately was rear ended by a back marker.

With debris on the pit straight the initially the Safety Car was called out at the end of lap 1, although soon after the red flags were unfurled as the ambulances arrived. Both drivers were okay, and after the debris and cars were taken away, the grid was reformed for a shorter 10 minute race, rather than the original 15 minutes. For the second start the two front row men made decent getaways, with the initial lead fight being between Olly Allen in his Fiesta and David Hickton, up from the second row in his BMW M3.

Pole man Kevin Willis was already losing touch to the first two in a solitary 3rd position, although it didn’t look as if it would stay that way for long as the hard charging Ray West in a similar BMW M3 had already risen from 11th on the grid to 4th by the end of lap 2. After a stout defense of the lead from Olly Allen he eventually had to concede the lead to David Hickton as he dived inside Allen at Quarry on lap 3.

Later on in the lap it became clear as to why Allen may have conceded the lead as a significant amount of smoke began billowing out of the rear of his Fiesta, although for the time being he remained comfortable in 2nd. As early as lap 4 it became clear the top four were in a class of their own, with the rest of the field lagging well behind. Hickton made sure to build a significant advantage once he hit the front, with his lead only being extended with the demise of Allen and his smoking Fiesta on lap 5.

With Allen’s retirement Kevin Willis was promoted to second, however he lasted barely a lap in 2nd before he was passed in a tremendous round the outside move at Westway from Ray West, who then set about building a gap and cementing himself in the runner up spot.

With it only being a 10 minute race there was only time for eight laps, but that was more than enough for David Hickton to claim a comfortable victory, with Ray West completing his charge from 11th to claim 2nd, whilst Kevin Willis looked slightly off the pace in the final podium place.Andy West finished 4th in his Honda Civic, whilst John Edwards-Parton won the Blue Oval Saloons class with 5th overall, whilst Andrew Sheraton completed the top six.

Much later in the afternoon the series returned to the grid for their second race, although one again it was reduced from 15 minutes down to 12 this time thanks to a tight race day schedule. The finishing order from race one decided the grid for this second encounter, leaving David Hickton on pole from Ray West, with Kevin Willis and Andy West completing the second row.

At the front the status quo remained in the opening laps, although by this time attention had shifted to the incredible Olly Allen, who after retiring from the opening race, charged up from his 18th spot on the grid to 4th by the end of the opening lap. From here it would prove to be very difficult to make any further progress, although he looked in inspired form in the opening laps.

On lap 3 Allen marked up his next target as he began challenging Kevin Willis for 3rd, a move he finally made stick on the inside going into Quarry corner on lap 4. It was at this middle portion of the race that the leading duo of Hickton and West began to build a gap to the rest of the field, as they looked to begin their own private battle for the lead.

Olly Allen had solidified himself in third position, however unfortunately for him his James Bond inspired smoke screen returned on lap 6, and he was soon forced to retire with an expensive looking engine blowup, although not before spinning on his own oil at the Bobbies chicane beforehand. Engine blowup’s would prove to have a key outcome on this race, as a spectacular blowup for a back marker at the Tower/Bobbies complex wrong footed leader David Hickton in the prodigious smoke, leaving Ray West with a perfect opportunity to steal the race lead once both emerged from the smoke exiting Bobbies.

From here until the chequered flag several laps later both West and Hickton fought for the victory, although and moves from Hickton would prove unsuccessful as Ray West claimed a opportunistic victory to share the day’s spoils with David Hickton in 2nd. Kevin Willis was once again off the pace in the final podium spot, with Andrew Sheraton coming home 4th in his BMW E30, as John Edwards-Parton once again won the Blue Oval class in 5th overall, whilst Philip Comer completed the top six in his monstrous Jaguar XJS.

The two Pre-93 Touring Car Championship provided some entertaining racing, especially in the later second race, it’s a shame however that both races for the series were reduced as it would of been nice to see the races develop over the full 15 minutes, something time constraints didn’t allow. I’m sure many would like to see the series back another time at Castle Combe to full show the potential for good racing the series has. For more information on this series, please visit their web page below.

Gardner Claims Two Dominant Classic Formula Ford Victories

The second and final race before the lunch break at Castle Combe was for the Luna Logistics Classic Formula Ford Championship, a series that always provides good racing. As the spectators eagerly anticipated their latest fix of the ever popular Formula Ford category, it was Mike Gardner who claimed pole position in his Crossle 30F. Simon Davey shared the front row in the first of many Van Diemen RF80 cars, whilst Chris Stuart and Stuart Kestenbaum completed the second row.

As the lights went out both front row men made good starts, as Mike Gardner took the early lead. After qualifying a whopping 1.5 seconds faster than anyone else, it should not have been a surprise to see Gardner streak away from the rest in the early stages. Helping out Gardner to build an even further lead was the fact that Chris Stuart and Simon Davey were fighting amongst themselves for 2nd, constantly passing and re-passing each other as they slowed themselves up.

By the end of lap 4 Gardner’s lead was already up to six seconds, meanwhile row three starter Kevin Mansell was now challenging Stuart for 3rd position on lap 5. Long time series front runner Stuart Kestenbaum was now looking to join the fight as he passed Mansell for 4th on the inside at Tower corner later on in the lap, as Davey briefly distanced himself from the squabbling Stuart,Kestenbaum and Mansell.

Stuart Kestenbaum was on the move again on lap 9 as he overtook Chris Stuart for 3rd, whilst behind him a lap later Mansell and Stuart swapped places before switching back again on the exit of Quarry. As the race entered it’s final laps Mike Gardner had built an incredible lead of almost half a lap, meanwhile behind him it finally seemed like the squabbling was coming to an end as everyone was now evenly spaced out.

After 16 laps and 20 minutes it was Mike Gardner who claimed as dominant a Formula Ford victory as your ever likely to see, eventually winning by 27 seconds. Even a 10 second post race penalty failed to deter him from victory, with Simon Davey the best of the rest in 2nd position. Stuart Kestenbaum battled to claim the final podium position, with Chris Stuart behind him in 4th. Finally it was Kevin Mansell and Steve Pearce who completed the top six.

The Classic Formula Ford grid lined up much later in the afternoon to looming grey clouds overhead as they started their formation lap. With the very crowded scheduling of the day’s meeting earlier delay’s meant this race was unfortunately reduced from 20 to 15 minutes to help with the scheduling, although it still promised to be an exciting race.

Much like with many other series, the grid for this second race was determined by the finishing order of the first race. This meant that Mike Gardner was once again on pole position, with Simon Davey again sharing the front row with him. Stuart Kestenbaum and Chris Stuart completed row two. At the front there were no major surprises at the start, as Gardner and Davey broke away from the rest by the end of the opening lap.

It didn’t take long for the fighting to begin in the pack as Kestenbaum and Mansell carried on their race one battle as they fought over 3rd in the early laps. After being wheeled off the grid in the opening race from 5th on the grid, Ted Pearson was keen to make up for it in this second race as he immediately rose through the pack, going from 18th and last to 6th by the end of lap 2.

It didn’t take long for Mike Gardner to assert his dominance again, as he led by roughly five seconds by lap 4, as once again a big battle was developing for 2nd between Davey,Kestenbaum,Mansell,Stuart and Pearson. On lap 5 Stuart began a charge up the order by passing Mansell for 4th, and then passed Kestenbaum for 3rd at the Esses a lap later. Stuart then completed his remarkable charge a lap after that by passing Davey for 2nd position going up Avon Rise and into Quarry. Ted Pearson also got involved on lap 7, as he passed Mansell for 5th to further his charge from the back.

Just as Chris Stuart was looking good in 2nd position he undid all his previous hard work by running wide at Camp on lap 7, which left him as easy prey for Simon Davey and Stuart Kestenbaum as he dropped to 4th by the time the reached the braking zone for Quarry corner. After re-passing Kestenbaum he look comfortable in 3rd, although a final lap drama meant he once again dropped behind Kestenbaum.

After twelve laps it was Mike Gardner who claimed another comfortable victory, as he proved himself to be the class of the field in both the day’s races, and this time he had no post-race penalties to sully his dominance. Simon Davey once again finished a distant 2nd, and after Chris Stuart lost drive temporarily coming out of Camp on the final lap, Stuart Kestenbaum was able to out drag him and claim the final podium place on the short drag to the finish line. Kevin Mansell almost crashed into him on the run to the line, although had just enough to momentum to pip him to 4th as Chris Stuart was classified 5th. Ted Pearson was further back in 6th.

Although on the surface two dominant victories for Mike Gardner didn’t seen the most entertaining of races, that would be doing disservice to the epic battles for the other podium places in both races, which were more than enough to keep everyone entertained throughout. The Luna Logistics Classic Formula Ford Championship is a regular at Castle Combe for a reason, with everyone I’m sure hoping they will return again next year.

For more information on this series please feel free to visit their website below.

Fletcher and Gent Share Racing Thunder Victories

The opening race of the Bank Holiday Monday MotorsTV live race day meeting was for the Hammerite Racing Thunder Championship, with the VTEC Direct Pre-2003 championship and CBT Business Travel VW Challenge also joining them on this grid for the two races at Castle Combe.

The cars glistened in the spring sunshine as they rolled out onto the grid for their 15 minute race, the first of two races before the lunch break in an unusual move here at Castle Combe. After a slightly damp qualifying it was circuit favorite and long term Combe racer Ilsa Cox who lined up on pole for the rolling start, her ex-Seat Leon cup car ahead of Vaughan Fletcher in second with his Subaru Impreza. Darren Bly and his monstrous Nissan Skyline lined up alongside Bradley Gelman in his rare Ford Sierra Cosworth to complete row two.

There was little drama at the rolling start, although after a bad start it was Darren Bly who was the man on the move in the early laps. He first passed the beast that is Andy Robinson’s ex-Craig Lowndes Ford Falcon V8 Supercar for 4th on lap 2, before passing Bradley Gelman for third and then finally Vaughan Fletcher for second going up Avon Rise into Quarry on lap 3. Whilst Bly was charging through the field, Ilsa Cox was building a comfortable lead out front, stretching it close to five seconds by the end of lap 3.

Now with a clear track in front, Bly was able to fully utilize the reported 800bhp in his Skyline to rapidly close on Ilsa Cox for the lead. He began looking for a way through on lap 4, although at the Bobbies chicane his over cooked things and lost several seconds as he got all crossed up putting the immense amount of power onto the road, especially as his Skyline was converted to 2wd spec not the standard 4wd.

Behind the front two it was Dale Gent who was now moving up, as he took his Subaru Impreza from 6th on the grid past Vaughan Fletcher for 3rd on lap 5, although he subsequently ruined his hard work a lap later with a very bizarre spin going up Avon Rise, dropping back to his starting position in 6th. After several laps of harrying Cox for the lead, Bly once again got all crossed up putting the power down at Bobbies on lap 8, although this time he couldn’t hold it as he spun off and into the barriers on the outside of the track. The spin would prove too much as Bly was forced to retire on the spot from 2nd.

This seemingly left Ilsa Cox with a comfortable run to the flag, although her lap times were slowing as she looked to be nursing a problem. Behind her, after challenging Gelman for several laps Dale Gent finally found a way past on the inside at Folly to claim 4th place in his recovery drive. At the end of the penultimate lap it became clear Cox was slowing dramatically, as she was forced into retirement halfway up Avon Rise on the final lap. It was a cruel twist of fate for the local favorite, who looked comfortable out front until her car issues, which were later revealed to be chronic engine overheating issues.

With Ilsa Cox forced into retirement this left Vaughan Fletcher to cruise round the final lap to claim a comfortable if fortuitous victory from Andy Robinson in his Falcon V8 Supercar, with Dale Gent completing the podium after his recovery drive. Ian Froggatt was 4th in another Subaru Impreza, whilst Bradley Gelman came home 5th, before Steven Woods completed the top six in his VW Golf Mk4, also claiming the VW Challenge class honors also.

Conditions had changed somewhat for the second of the Classic Thunder races, with grey skies now engulfing the circuit as they headed out once again halfway through this congested MotorsTV meeting.The grid for the second race was determined by the finishing order of the opening race, meaning Vaughan Fletcher was on pole after his earlier win, whilst Andy Robinson shared the front row with him for the rolling start.

At the start it was Robinson who made the best getaway to lead, although at this early stages it was Dale Gent who was demanding all the spectators attention as he began challenging Fletcher for 2nd. At Camp at the end of lap 2 he pulled off a brilliant around the outside move, something that would have looked great on the TV camera’s. Gent immediately disposed of Fletcher and set off after Robinson, soon passing him and taking the lead on lap 4.

Robinson fell back from the clutches of Gent as he established a comfortable lead at the front. Gent was looking in inspired form in this race after his podium in the first race, as he left Robinson and Fletcher evenly spaced behind as he looked supremely comfortable for the entire race. Vaughan Fletcher had looked slightly slower in this second race, and on lap 8 he was forced into retirement, leaving Ian Froggatt in another Subaru Impreza to claim the final podium spot in 3rd.

From here on out it was status quo at the front as Dale Gent completed the final few laps to claim a comfortable victory in his Impreza, with Andy Robinson and Ian Froggatt an equally comfortable 2nd and 3rd respectively. Bradley Gelman finished 4th, with Steven Woods again winning the VW Challenge class as he came home 5th. Some final lap fun was provided by the 6th place finisher Andy Thompson, who spun on oil exiting the final corner, before deciding he had enough of an advantage that he could reverse across the line to complete the top six.

Both of the Hammerite Racing Thunder Championship provided good, quality racing as the eclectic field kept both the spectators and TV audience entertained throughout both 15 minute races. Whilst there was some misfortune for the likes of Ilsa Cox and Darren Bly, the series showed it’s quality and we all surely hope the BARC will bring the series back to Castle Combe next year.

For more information on this great series please feel free to visit their website below.