After the action of the previous Pre-1982 Classic Formula Ford race, a contrast was provided next as the new for 2014 Castle Combe Sports Racing Car series took to the grid. Solely for the Sports prototypes which previously dominated the Sports @ GT series before complaints about the speed differentials and the amount of entries meant a split was announced for this year. Whilst the series has suffered growing pains in it’s first year with small grid the final race of the year provided plenty of optimism for next year as the series had it’s biggest and most competitive grid of the year.
After the morning’s wet qualifying session it was Tim Gray who took pole in his very impressive Spire GT-3 entry. Gray is a distinguished RGB and Bikesports racer and his Spire handled like it was on rails in the wet qualifying session and looked by far the fastest car on track to claim pole. Another newcomer to the series lined up 2nd, although the don’t lack experience with the circuit as the entry was from renowned Castle Combe Formula Ford racers Nick Jones and Kevin Mills racing. Mike Jenvey was yet another newer entry from an outside series in his self built Jenvey/Gunn TS6 and lined up 3rd with old circuit dominator Simon Tilling lining up 4th in his impressive Ligier JS49T.
With the dry and sunny conditions the complete opposite to qualifying a great race was predicted as those out of place after qualifying battled to improve their positions in the 20 minute race. The grid remained in largely the same order after the initial rolling start, although by the end of the lap the order changed at the front. Simon Tilling used the larger Honda engine in his Ligier and extensive circuit knowledge to blast into the lead and open a 2 second lead by the end of the lap.
Early on Tilling and Tim Gray were the pace setters with the rest falling away behind, although Mike Jenvey soon attempted to rectify this as he passed local man Darcy Smith in his Radical SR4 for 3rd on the inside at Camp on lap 2. The top 5 appeared to be strung out for this portion of the race, although the symmetry was broken on lap 6 as unfortunately Mike Jenvey pulled into the pits and was forced to retire his impressive Jenvey/Gunn hybrid. A lap later and Tim Gray began to get the wrath of the officials as he was shown the mechanical warning flag for the biblical noise coming from his Spire racer.
With the circuit now forced to heavily police it’s noise after being serviced with a noise nuisance order Gray was black flagged and forced to retire at the end of lap 8. With Gray and Jenvey out Tilling now had a huge lead over the new battle for 2nd between Darcy Smith and Nick Jones, although over the next few laps Smith was able to eke out a small gap to Jones. Behind their battle 4th place man Stephen Bracegirdle was slowing with a mechanical problem and was passed from 4th and 5th over several laps by firstly Chris Child and then a recovering Chris Vinall who spun to the back of the field on lap 1.
Simon Tilling was now beyond comfortable in his impressive Ligier VdeV racer, although he was at the center of the race’s late drama as he began slowing size-ably with only a few minutes left on the clock. His lead stood at 38 seconds but with Smith and Jones now catching him at the rate of 12-15 seconds per lap it seemed they might well be able to catch him. Going into the final half lap it looked like they might do it at the final corner, although Tilling just held them off enough to claim the victory by a whisker from Darcy Smith in 2nd with Nick Jones right behind him in 3rd.
Chris Child was 4th in his Nemisis with long time Combe racer Norman Lackford 5th before Stephen Bracegirdle limped home to complete the top 6. What had threatened to be a dominant victory provided late drama in arguably the best race of the season for this new Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series. Hopefully many of the impressive newcomers from this race will return for more in 2015, and held give the series some much needed momentum after a difficult debut 2014 season. For more information on this promising new series please visit their website below.