UK Motorsport

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.
http://classictouringcars.com/champ_thunder.html

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Roger Orgee dominates end of season Formula Ford Carnival

Next up on track for the penultimate race of the Championship Finals Raceday was the Castle Combe Formula Ford Carnival, a regular end of season one-off race for victory which has been going since 1996. This year’s entry was abit smaller than previous years although most of the championship regulars wheeled out their cars for one final race in the season. Nathan Ward was once again on pole in his Spectrum with the talented returnee Luke Cooper alongside him in his older Swift SC92 model. Michael Moyers was 3rd with Roger Orgee completing row 2.

At the start it was the two Higgins brothers who made the best getaway’s as Richard rose quickly from 6th on the grid whilst recently crowned Combe Formula Ford champ Adam shot from 8th, after he only completed 1 qualifying lap for this to save his car for the earlier final round of the Formula Ford championship. Nathan Ward managed to retain the lead however, until lap 2 when a determined Roger Orgee passed him on the inside going into Tower.

From here it seemed both Orgee and Ward had the edge on the others for pace as they opened a small gap back to Combe debutant Michael Moyers in 3rd by lap 3. Later on in this shortened 12 lap affair Orgee showed he was aiming to avenge his earlier title loss as he opened a lead of just over a second, whilst behind him Ward was now fighting Moyers, Adam Higgins and Luke Cooper for 2nd place. Unfortunately this battle was split apart on the next lap as contact between Moyers and Higgins at the Esses delayed the rest, and left Moyers with sidepod damage that was enough to force him into retirement at the end of the lap.

Now Nathan Ward was free of those behind him he once again set about challenging Orgee for the lead in the last few laps, although it seemed he was unlikely to find a way through. Behind them, a great battle for 3rd was now developing between Adam Higgins, Luke Cooper, Jonathan Hoad, Ed Moore and Richard Higgins. The final few laps were set to be frantic and unfortunately things once again ended in tears, as Richard Higgins was dumped off the track after a last lap collision.

Back at the front and Roger Orgee salvaged a Carnival win from his earlier title loss whilst Nathan Ward came home a close 2nd. Completing the podium was 2013 and 2014 Castle Combe Formula Ford champion Adam Higgins. Luke Cooper was 4th in his return to the circuit, with Jonathan Hoad bringing home his iconic Duckhams Van Diemen RF90 racer 5th whilst ex-champion and serial winner Ed Moore completed the top 6.

Whilst this year’s Carnival failed to live up to the glory days of the race in the mid-2000’s this year’s race was yet again a classic with a great battle between Orgee and Ward for the lead and even further down every podium place was hotly contested. The Carnival brought the curtain down on an amazing 2014 Castle Combe Formula Ford season, my only hope is that the action and level of entries can be sustained into 2015, with maybe even a few more faces to challenge at the front although that may simply be wishful thinking.

For any further information on the series please visit their website below.
http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/formula-ford-1600/

Chris Stuart survives carnage to take Pre-82 Classic FFord race

Carrying on the Formula Ford theme of the day’s Castle Combe Championship finals race day, the Pre-1982 Classic Formula Ford Championship grid took to the track for their 20 minute race. The sizeable grid was headed by Andrew Smith on pole with long time series front runner Stuart Kestenbaum alongside him on the front row. Simon Davey lined up 3rd with Ted Pearson completing row 2.

From the start it was Stuart Kestenbaum who made the best getaway to steal the early lead with the rest following on behind. It took until lap 3 before pole man Andrew Smith was able to claim the lead from Kestenbaum at Quarry. Things soon got worse for Kestenbaum on the exit of the corner as he was demoted to 3rd by an opportunistic Simon Davey. The major talking point of the race occurred a lap later at Quarry as the top 3 were all eliminated in one incident, with the rest scrambling to find a way through the carnage in front of them. It appeared leader Andrew Smith spun with Simon Davey and Stuart Kestenbaum also collecting him and leaving all three strewn on the grass run off on the outside of Quarry.

In the aftermath of the leaders collision it was Ted Pearson who now led, however he had lost his nosecone in the melee and it was clear from his heavily blocked radiator that he’d been grass cutting in avoidance of further contact at Quarry. Despite the large amount of grass in the radiator Pearson was able to continue for another lap in the lead, before a gear linkage failure forced him to slow at Hammerdown and coast round into retirement. Chris Stuart was the new leader after making rapid progress from 6th on the grid whilst also benefiting from others mistakes. Stuart opened a small lead over Kevin Howell and Kevin Mansell in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Kevin Mansell sensed a chance at the victory and dived inside Kevin Howell for 2nd at Tower on lap 7. It seemed Howell might of had a potential problem as he then lost 3rd on the next lap Philip Michael Wrigley. Any hopes Mansell had of claiming victory were ruined with a spin at Bobbies on lap 9, as he dropped from 2nd to 7th. Going into the final laps a scintillating battle for the lead was developing between Stuart, Michael Wrigley and Roger Newman. Newman was the man on the move as he stole 2nd from Michael Wrigley at Quarry on the penultimate lap, although he was unable to wrest the lead from Stuart. So after a dramatic Pre-82 Classic Formula Ford race it was Chris Stuart who outlasted the rest to claim the victory, with Roger Newman and Philip Michael Wrigley completing the podium.

Kevin Howell recovered from his late race spin to claim 4th with Leandro Guedes taking the iconic Jesus Saves Van Diemen RF79 to 5th whilst the Wrigley family could be happy with Matthew claiming 6th to join Philip Michael in 3rd. All in all, it was a very interesting race with plenty of action, in other words a proper Formula Ford race. For more information on the series please visit the link below.
http://www.classicformulaford.com/

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.

For more information on this series please visit – http://www.ccracingclub.co.uk/championships/gt/

Mighty Mini’s Castle Combe A Plant Lux Report

After the excitement of the more powerful Super Mighty Mini races the excitement was followed up by the Mighty Mini racers soon after. With some crossing over from the Super Mighty Mini series the two 20 minute races promised to provide action galore.

For their opening race it was Sam Hathaway who lined up on pole from Paul Inch, with father Martyn Hathaway lining up 3rd alongside Paul Rhodes in 4th. From the lights it was Inch who made the best start to lead the field into Quarry corner. Inch seemed set on running away from the field as he opened a lead of around 1.5 seconds by the end of lap 2. Behind him Martyn Hathaway suffered a huge moment exiting Camp completing lap 2 and subsequently dropped like a stone from 2nd to 5th in a heartbeat.

Much like the Super Mighty Mini race whilst the leader streaked away the rest battled over 2nd. The fight consisted of Sam Hathaway, Paul Rhodes, Adrian Tuckley and Martyn Hathaway and they were changing positions several times per lap for the majority of the race. Amazingly the group seemed to be working together as they began reeling in leader Inch by lap 6. On lap 8 the chase was complete as Sam Hathaway marched into the lead and set about building a gap to the rest. A lap later his father Martyn Hathaway joined the lead battle to make the lead fight a family affair.

Paul Rhodes suffered a scare on lap 11 when it was announced he was to receive a 5 second time penalty for breaching track limits. The penalty didn’t change much however as it simply meant he would remain in 5th, yet unlikely to improve on that . Father Martyn Hathaway produced a scintillating move around the outside of Camp on son Sam for the lead on lap 11. Going into the final lap the win was up for grabs and it was Paul Inch who took the initive as he dived inside M.Hathaway for the win at Camp. Son Sam Hathaway completed the podium whilst Adrian Tuckley came home 4th, with a delayed Paul Rhodes and Charlie Budd completing the top 6 in 5th and 6th respectively.

After waiting for the rest of the afternoon the Mighty Mini drivers finally came out for their second race of the day, and the final one of the day. The Mighty Mini field lucked out with the second race as the conditions were the best of the day as the relentless rain finally stopped in time for their 20 minute duel. Much like the Super Mighty Mini series the top 7 from the first race are reversed for the grid of the second race. This meant it was Ian Slark on pole from Charlie Budd in 2nd. At the start it was Slark who made the best start from pole to take the early initiative.

Slark’s lead didn’t last long however as Adrian Tuckley and Paul Rhodes took control of the race early on as they broke away from the field. It didn’t take long for the break to be caught by the main field however with the fight for the lead encompassing Martyn Hathaway, Paul Inch, Tuckley, Sam Hathaway and Neil Slark by lap 3. The constant swapping of places made it hard to follow the action it was so frantic, although Rhodes and Inch attempted a break from the rest on lap 4.

For Inch the pace of Rhodes was proving too much as he fell back into the clutches of Sam Hathaway in 3rd by lap 5. Lap 6 saw Ian Slark pass Tuckley for 4th at Tower and the drama continued on lap 7 as Sam Hathaway attempted an ambitious move around the outside at Quarry on leader Rhodes, with possible contact leaving Hathaway on the grass and out of the race after his spin. Slark also passed Inch for 2nd at Camp on lap 7 too. It soon became clear that race 1 winner Paul Inch was suffering from a serious problem as he lost 3rd to Martyn Hathaway at Camp on lap 8. Hathaway was clearing pushing at this stage although he pushed too hard at the Esses the following lap, spinning off and re-joining on the fringes of the top 10.

Adrian Tuckley produced an identical move to Hathaway at Camp to take 3rd from a slow Paul Inch, who later revealed his engine dropped to 3 cylinders for the final portion of the race. The man on the move late on was Damien Harrington, who vaulted himself from the final row to pass Tuckley for 3rd at Camp on lap 10. A lap later and the worst possible result for the Hathaway’s was completed as father Martyn spun out of a lower top 10 placing at Tower. Unlike the other Mini races the last lap didn’t provide any drama as Paul Rhodes came through for the victory. Ian Slark was 2nd with the amazing Damien Harrington completing the podium. Adrian Tuckley was 4th from Gregory Jenkins and Christopher Kit Stevens who completed the top 6.

Both Mighty Mini races had provided huge excitement just like their more powerful Super Mighty Mini friends. Both series showed the best of low cost racing and many will be hoping they make a return to Castle Combe in 2015.

For more information on the series visit this site – http://www.brscc.co.uk/Championships/MIGHTY-MINIS-CHAMPIONSHIP