Sports @ GT

Bull outlasts rest to claim opening Sports @ GT win

Next up on track was the first of the local circuit championships, the Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship, beginning it’s second season since being split in two with the Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series. The series is still well supported however and a wide variety of machinery took to the grid for their 15 lap opening stanza of their season.

Ian Hall sat on pole position with his impressive and very throaty Darrian Wildcat and his 6 litre Rover V8 engine, the highly sophisticated Mitsubishi Evo 9 alongside him. Perry Waddams in his impressive TVR Tuscan Challenge car sat in 3rd whilst Oliver Bull completed row two in his sleek Vauxhall Tigra Silhouette national hot rods spec car.

Off the line unsurprisingly it was the 4 wheel drive of Barry Squibb’s Evo which rocketed into an early lead off the line, although his lead would prove to be short lived as he was forced to slowly return to the pits by the end of lap 1, the myriad of reliability issues which slowed this car last year rearing their ugly head once again. This put Ian Hall into the lead, closely followed by Perry Waddams, both well clear of the pack in the early laps.

In the early laps the main battle was for 4th position between Michael Timberlake in his BMW M3, old circuit favorite Ilsa Cox in her Seat Leon Cupra car and Bull in his Vauxhall Tigra. Timberlake provided a good defense, although it was breached by Cox on lap 4 as she took 4th at Bobbies.

At the front the lead pairing had been slowly closing together in the opening laps, with Waddams finally passing Hall for the lead at Quarry on lap 5, whilst later on in the lap Bull quickly dispatched with Cox and Timberlake,cementing himself in 4th. A lap later and Ian Hall’s progressively sicker sounding Darrian pulled into the pits with a possible misfire, leaving Waddams comfortably clear of the rest of the pack.

Waddams now led comfortably from Dylan Popovic in the unusual Avatar racer, who at this stage of the race was more concerned with the progressively closing Oliver Bull behind him. After edging up to the back of Popovic, Bull made a move stick for 2nd at the Esses on lap 12, now setting his sights on the troubled Waddams out front.

The drama was kept up until the final lap, with Waddams slowing at Tower, leaving Oliver Bull free to claim the lead on the penultimate lap, clear now to claim a shock victory in the opening round of the resident Sports @ GT championship. Waddams slowed dramatically half way round the final lap, which Dylan Popovic felt contributed possibly to his last lap spin at the Esses, ripping off the venturi tunnels at the back of his Avatar.

After the late laps it was surprise that Bull was eventually able to comfortably win by 22 seconds from the recovering Popovic, with a delighted Ilsa Cox able to complete the podium. Michael Timberlake came home 4th, with Kevin Mears and Paul Arber completing the top six, a lap down on victor Bull.

For more information on this series please visit their website here.


Simon Norris survives last lap collision to claim Sports @GT win

Unlike the Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship, the Sports @ GT title had already been decided in the favour of dominant driver Gary Prebble. Since the Castle Combe Racing Club decided to split the series for this year, creating a new Sports Racing Car Series for the Sports Prototypes this year Garry Prebble has dominated the year in his all powerful Mitsubishi Evo 9RS. After a wet morning qualifying session it was no surprise to see the horde of 4 wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo’s at the front of the grid.

Gary Prebble was unsurprisingly on pole from on-off entrant Simon Norris in his beastly looking Evo 9. Ex-rallycross racer Barry Squibb was 3rd in his Evo with the 2014 European Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou lining up 4th in his Team RJN Nissan 370Z GT4 spec. Off line now it was the two front row men Prebble and Norris who rocketed off the line to take the early advantage. After the opening lap Prebble and Norris had opened a lead of 2-3 seconds over the battle for 3rd between Squibb and Paletou.

By lap 3 Prebble was beginning to ease away slightly from Norris in 2nd as he looked to round out his year in style with a win, as behind them a fast rising Perry Waddams in his brutish TV Tuscan with monstrous Chevrolet LS3 engine overtook Paletou for 3rd on lap 4 at Camp, with Paletou re-taking it on the pit straight. On the next lap at Quarry Barry Squibb pulled off into retirement from 5th, bringing to an end a troubled season in his unreliable Evo.

Lap 7 saw a huge development at the front as it looked as if Prebble made an uncharacteristic mistake on the pit straight as Norris raced through into the lead. The battle for 3rd was finally settled as Waddams finally made a move stick on Paletou a lap later, as Norris was settled in the lead as Prebble trailed 3.4 seconds behind. It now seemed Prebble’s car was struggling with a car problem by lap 10 as Waddams passed Prebble at Bobbies for 2nd. At Quarry a lap later Paletou also mugged Prebble for the final podium place.

Prebble slowed to a crawl again going up Avon Rise on lap 12 and finally pulled off from 4th into a rare retirement for the 2014 champion. An exciting battle for the lead was now developing in the final laps as Perry Waddams first took the lead on the outside at Quarry on lap 13, before Norris used his superior acceleration to re-take the lead going into the Esses. After the same happened on lap 14 the final lap was set to be a cracker as the Sports @ GT season came to an end.

After plenty of ducking and diving Waddams saw his last chance to grab the lead as he got a better exit from Westway as he looked to the inside on Dean Straight to give him the lead going into the final corner. After Norris moved to the edge of the track to cover Waddams the two made significant side-on contact, with Waddams TVR being momentarily launched into the air as the heavy landing broke his front suspension. Unable to steer Waddams desperately tried to slow the car as he went across the grass before going straight on at Camp and stopping the car on the exit of the corner just before the wall.

This left Simon Norris free to take a sizeable victory from rising star Gaetan Paletou in one of his first races in the GT4 spec Nissan 370Z. Team mate to Paletou Paul Brown completed the podium, as Keith Dunn finished 4th in his Caterham C400. The Ariel Atom of Lee Cunningham was 5th as Dylan Popovic completed the top 6 in his unique Marlin Avatar. Unsurprisingly both drivers had differing views on the incident with Norris feeling in the post race podium that Waddams was trying some risky moves and was not fully alongside Norris when the two made contact.

Despite the contentious end to the season this year has been a promising one for the new Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship, with Gary Prebble a very deserving champion with the series also showing signs of potential growth for the 2015 season. Simply put, I cannot wait. For more info on the series please visit the link below.

Castle Combe Sports @ GT Championship August Report

The penultimate race of the day was for the final of the resident championships as the Castle Combe Sports and GT Championship took to the grid for their penultimate race of the season also. After a hugely impressive year the title appeared destined for Mitsubishi Evo driver Gary Prebble, who duly claimed pole in the wet conditions from fellow Evo pilot Barry Squibb. The wet conditions would give a massive advantage to the 4wd Evo’s compared to the rest, and so it proved from the start as they both marched away from the rest as the scrambled around for grip. From the start it was ex-Rallycross racer Squibb who took the advantage and build of cushion of around a second by the end of lap 1.

For the rest behind they stood no chance with Nick Holden leading the futile charge in his Ariel Atom in 3rd. The only leading battle in the early stages of this 15 lap race was Dylan Popovic and his Marlin racer closing on and then passing Craig Moore in the unusual Rage buggy on lap 6. The pivotal moment of the race came on lap 9 as Squibb was forced into retirement with a turbo failure that led ominously to flames out the exhaust pipe. From here it was easy for Prebble despite well worn wet tyres, which he later explained is why he couldn’t match Squibb.

On lap 11 it appeared Holden suffered an off as he lost a lot of time, but still retaining his 2nd place such was his advantage. The man on the move in the later stages was Martin Perry in his unlikely Fiat Coupe, who first used a better exit from Camp to pass Craig Moore in the Rage for 4th on lap 13, then passed Dylan Popovic on the next lap for 3rd.

From here he couldn’t make any more progress as Gary Prebble meanwhile cruised home for his 41st overall victory at Castle Combe, with Nick Holden a lapped 2nd such was the advantage Prebble enjoyed. Martin Perry was elated with 3rd despite finishing 2 laps down, with Dylan Popovic trailing home 4th from Craig Moore in 5th and finally Mark Higginson in another Rage buggy who finished 6th. This victory meant Gary Prebble wrapped up the 2014 Castle Combe Sports @ GT Championship with a round to spare, in what has been a truly dominant year for him in this series.

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