Saloon Car Championship

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.
http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/saloons/

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Hutchings fights off Prebble for Saloons victory

Another of the circuit’s championships is the highly popular Castle Combe Saloon Car championship, which this year celebrates it’s 20th birthday. The series has proved popular since it’s inception and this year is no different, with both the size and quality of the grid improving on last year.

One of the front runners from last year, Tony Hutchings, claimed pole position in his very fast Audi TT, with Dave Scaramanga surprising the paddock by claiming 2nd on the grid. Angus Gorringe was another who surprised with the pack with his Nissan 200SX in 3rd, whilst the circuit’s most successful driver Gary Prebble lined up 4th, as he made the switch from the Sports @ GT championship in his Mitsubishi Evo to the Saloons, after buying the Rob Ballard Seat Leon he borrowed last year to compete a one-off race in the championship.

At the start it was one of last year’s front runners Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird who made the best start from 5th on the grid in his Renault Megane. At the end of the first lap it was Tony Hutchings who led, whilst Angus Gorringe and Gary Prebble lurked behind him in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Prebble soon disposed of Gorringe at Quarry on lap 2, and immediately set after Hutchings for the lead.

Prebble began challenging Hutchings on lap 3, with the closeness of their fight being explained by Prebble in the post-race interviews, as he explained how they both touched at Tower on lap 4 such was the intensity of their fight for the lead. Their fighting left the door open for Dave Scaramanga to close up on them, whilst behind the top three the rest of the top six were evenly spaced out on track. Long time saloon front runner Mark Wyatt found himself in unfamiliar territory in his trusty Vauxhall Astra in the lower reaches of the top seven, although soon set about rectifying this as he challenged John Barnard for 6th on lap 10 of 15.

Hutchings received a stroke of luck on lap 11, as traffic helped him open a lead of 1.6 seconds over Prebble, a gap that he failed to close in the remaining few laps, leaving Hutchings free to take a hard fought lights to flag win from Prebble. He later explained that from the halfway stage of the race his brakes were severely delaying him, which explains why he wasn’t able to close on Hutchings in the final laps once a gap had been established. Before the brake issue however, Prebble showed his pace as he became the first man in the saloons to lap below the 1m15’s, comfortably beating the lap record by over half a second on the newly resurfaced track. Dave Scaramanga will have been pleased to make his debut on the podium in the saloons with his pristine VW Scirocco.

Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird was a very distant 4th although will have been pleased that his reliability problems from last year held off this time around. Bill Brockbank returned to the series after several years out to claim 5th in his Seat Ibiza Cupra, whilst Mark Wyatt inherited 6th position when John Barnard stopped within sight of the flag exiting Bobbies on the final lap.

This opening race was a precursor to what’s likely to be the reality all season, with Hutchings and Prebble battling it out for victories and the title, whilst the rest will have to up their game at this stage if they are to challenge both of these men consistently across the year. This title battle shall be enthralling to watch I’m sure. For more information on this championship please visit http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/saloons/

Hutchings survives red flag to claim victory

Whilst the Castle Combe Saloon Car title had already been decided in favour of the amazingly fast and consistent Class D driver David Rose in his VW Lupo, there was plenty still up for grabs at the final race of the season, with bragging rights over the off-season especially. After qualifying it was long term front runner Mark Wyatt who was on pole in his Class B Vauxhall Astra, with Tony Hutchings sharing the front row in his Audi TT. Rob Ballard was 3rd in his Seat Leon Cupra whilst the giant killing Carl Loader completed row 2 in his Class C Citroen Saxo VTS.

One of the fastest drivers of the year Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird ended his year on a bum note as he was forced to retire at the end of the formation lap. At the start it was Tony Hutchings and Carl Loader made the best starts to take the early lead, before the race was unexpectedly halted after a monumental accident for pole man Mark Wyatt. The experienced racer spun on the exit of the Esses and once he came to a stop in the middle of the circuit, he was nailed by Arthur Marks in his Suzuki Swift leaving both cars in a sorry state and debris covering the track. Once the race was red flagged the clean up began with both drivers receiving medical attention.

Mark Wyatt momentarily collapsed in the aftermath of the incident, and was soon transferred to the circuit medical center. Arthur Marks also received medical attention and was soon transferred to the nearby Bath hospital, before being discharged two days later. Back on track and the recovery took roughly 20-30 minutes to complete whilst the rest of the grid sat and waited on the pit straight. Once the race was getting underway again it was announced to save time that the race would be cut from 15 to 10 laps.

From the re-start Tony Hutchings once again jumped into an early lead and opened a lead of 1-2 seconds over the fast starting Julian Ellison in his Vauxhall Astra. Things would soon go sour for Ellison however as he went off at the Esses on lap 2, dropping from 2nd to 13th. After this the top three of Hutchings, Rob Ballard and David Challenger were now evenly spaced at the front.

Hutchings kept on extending his lead throughout the race as he cruised home to yet another victory this year, with Rob Ballard capping his return in style with 2nd whilst David Challenger was thrilled with his first ever Castle Combe podium in 3rd. John Barnard was 4th whilst Carl Loader came home 5th in his little Saxo as Tony Dolley recovered from a poor qualifying session to come home 6th. This year has once again been a classic one for the Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship, with high quality racing from consistently packed grids. For more information on the series please visit the link below.
http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/saloons/