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An action-packed start to Combe’s Season - local wins despite wet start...

05 Apr 2018

In true British fashion, the Bank Holiday Monday started off wet and cold. Unfortunately, rain had built up overnight on Quarry corner which meant that the MSA steward had deemed it too wet and potentially dangerous to start qualifying at 8.30am. The Castle Combe team pumped out the water and proceedings got under way just before 9.30am.

With a reduced timetable and a wet track, qualifying was reduced to three laps behind the safety car. Despite this, the racing began on time with the inaugural race of the BMW Car Club Championship taking to the track. The grid which was formed by ballot, saw some epic racing in these rear wheeled beast. The close racing saw Richard Marsh in his E36 M3 take the win for race 1 and Michael Vitulli in his E46 M3 take the win for the second race.

Next, it was all eyes on race 2 as the Melksham Motor Spares Formula Fords lined up on a damp track. It was evident that many were taking their time and pacing themselves with lap times and speeds lower than usual. Despite this, Yatton Keynell’s Luke Cooper took the first win of the day. Cooper then continued on to win the second race of the day, beating last year’s champion Josh Fisher by 3 seconds. Bradford on Avon’s David Vivian claimed a respectable 3rd and 4th place.

It was race 3 with the much anticipated Simonstone Motor Groups GT‘s where things certainly started to heat up. The 7litre Monster RX7 of Plymouths Steve Putt, looked at home charging through for the win. However, it was local Chippenham-based, Adam Higgins in his Ginetta G55 who really mixed things up. Higgins, being no stranger to driving at Combe as a former Formula Ford winner, was a late entry. He started under difficult circumstances at the rear of the grid to take second place in race 3 and race 10. Bristol’s Oliver Bull and former GT Champion in 2016, placed 4th in race 3 but found his feet claiming the win in race 10.

The National Windscreens Saloon Car Championship only had one race for the day, but it was where all eyes were watching. From the start it was clear that last year’s champion, Holt’s Simon Thornton-Norris was not going to be happy unless he took an early win. A battle ensued at the front of the pack with Southampton’s Gary Prebble in his Seat Leon constantly nipping away at Thornton-Norris. The track, still wet, didn’t dampen their spirits or enthusiasm and saw Dursley’s Alex Kite taking 3rd place on the podium in his Audi TT. As always with the saloons, anything can happen throughout the season!

The Hot Hatch Challenge sponsored by Pro Alloys entered its second year and did not disappoint with its variety of older cars and wide range of drivers. The previous big hitters in this race may have missed a trick as Devizes man Josh Harvey in his Honda EG 2000, took the win with a comfortable 11 second advantage. It was Salisbury’s Craig Tomkinson in his Vauxhall Nova who slipped into a comfortable second with the familiar face and bright yellow Vauxhall Astra of Bristol’s Mark Wyatt entering third place.

Also guests of the circuit were the 750MC Locost Championship and the 750MC Formula Vee. It was fair to say that neither of these championships failed to deliver! It was the LoCost where there were first time wins for Gregory Smith and Mark Burton in race 2. After a few years away from Combe, the Formuls Vee’s came back in style. With close racing in tricky circumstances and an incident at Folly, it was James Harridge who took the win in his Maverick Vee in race 1. Race 2 was also as eventful Ian Buxton in the GAC Daghorn take the win by 0.873s.

It was fair to say that weather aside, all the drivers performed extremely well under difficult circumstances. Castle Combe Circuit has become a mecca for local talent and more exciting double headers are planned for Monday 7th May.

Tickets available now at https://castlecombecircuit.co.uk/race-days/may-day-madness-race-day/7/5/2018/

For further information visit www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk

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