GRAND FINALS 2023 – RACE PREVIEWS AND STANDINGS
It’s time to look ahead to Castle Combe’s seasonal finale, the Grand Finals race meeting on 7 October, where the resident Formula Ford and GT title battles will be resolved. Incredibly, almost six months have elapsed since the championships kicked-off on Easter Monday, aka Howard’s Day, but the fights have been fast and furious, and at times a little too close for comfort.
With six round victories to two to date, reigning FF1600 champion Felix Fisher (TM Racing Ray) could land his second crown in the first of two races, but challenger Luke Cooper (works Swift SC20) – already a double titlist – will not cede until the chequered flag falls. Lucas Romanek (Van Diemen JL13) has won the other two races and Ben Mitchell (JL16) is due a win.
It is great to have Team USA Scholarship winners Ayrton Houk [say “Howk’], 20, and Jack Sullivan, 17, joining the fray with Ammonite Racing Rays as they start their build-up towards the Festival at Brands Hatch and November’s Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. They follow in illustrious wheeltracks and we wish them well against the local heroes.
Class champions Jamie Sturges (VW Golf TCR) and Alan Hamilton (Westfield Race Aero) sit atop the overall GT table. Multiple winner Doug Watson (Ferrari 488) and Keith Butcher (Lamborghini Huracan) should set the pace, but debutants Richard Williams (Porsche 997 GT3) and Angus Fender (Dodge Viper) add depth.
The Saloon title has returned to the 1400cc class with the unbeaten Mike Good (Vauxhall Corsa), but the sensational battle for 1800cc supremacy between James Keepin, James Blake and Lee Waterman in MG ZRs – currently split by four points – will go to the wire. Out front, 2022 champion Adam Prebble (Vauxhall Astra turbo) will be kept busy by Simon Thornton-Norris’ Mitsubishi Colt turbo.
Hot Hatch may not be gunning for championship glory, but more than 30 combatants line up for their single race. With the quickest Honda Civics not entered at the time of writing, Jordan Hurman’s FD2R could be a match for Shaun Goverd (Citroen AX) and Geoff Ryall and Shaun Deacon (Peugeot 106 GTis), plus the swiftest Renault Clios and Ford Fiestas.
The CCRC-badged Mighty Minis have raced further afield all season and now come home to roost. Gearbox dramas struck Supers points leader Neven Kirkpatrick at Donington last time out, thus Steve Rideout and Nev’s brother David could still deny him. Mark Price has retained his Mighty title, but Suzy Inch and Laura Harris are still disputing Coupe des Dames honours.
Active since 1958, the Monoposto Racing Club has frequented Castle Combe with its brand of “motor racing in the Grand Prix style for the club enthusiast” since July 1964, when Brian Mitcham won in his Embryo-BMD. Its Tiedeman Trophy ‘Autumn Series,’ introduced in 2013 and named for club founder Frank Tiedeman, provides an opportunity for competitors to experience the MRC offering, or perhaps try a different car as they gear up for next season.
A case in point is Nigel Davers – a Mono Moto 1000 race winner this term in a Jedi – who graduates to the F3 class with Fern GP’s Dallara-Renault F301. Also in F3 chassis are Nigel Howard (Dallara-TOM’S Toyota F399) and George Line in a younger Cup class Dallara-VW/Spiess F308. Having sold his venerable Van Diemen RF82, Rodney Tofts now saddles a TOM’S 036F in the 2000 division. Classic class champ Will Cox and dad David will feature in Ralt-Vauxhall RT3s, ranged against the RT30-VW/Spiess of ex-F1 Simtek pedaller Paul Smith. Watch too for Oliver Hulme’s distinctive Australian Hyper Racer X1 with Suzuki Hayabusa power.
Whether you are competing, spannering, marshalling or spectating, enjoy your day. And don’t forget to check the Castle Combe Circuit website in the coming weeks for details of 2024’s events.
- The above is an excerpt written by Marcus Pye for the Grand Finals official programme. Be sure to get yours on the day of the event for more information about the racing that’s set to take place.
- To find out more about the Grand Finals race meeting, please click here.