Adrian Slade and Ilsa Cox became the 2018 Castle Combe Saloon and 2018 Castle Combe GT champions respectively on Saturday, 15th September during the Wiltshire venue’s Grand Finals race meeting, joining the already-crowned 2018 Castle Combe Formula Ford champion, Luke Cooper.
Slade, who lives in Melksham, successfully saw off the threat from both Simon Thornton-Norris and Matthew Parr, also West Country racers.
Slade started the 15-lap race from 14th overall and second in class in the CCRC National Windscreens-backed series, but moved up into the class lead on the opening lap. It was a position he held right to the chequered flag, eventually finishing 1.6 seconds up on his nearest class rival in his Citroen Saxo.
“I am really pleased – it’s really unexpected this year. I have just been consistent all year and the car has been pretty faultless, up until today,” Slade said. “We had dramas before the race. We had overheating and we had battery issues. It was a bit hairy in qualifying and so I was glad to get it out the way, but the car was actually perfect in the race.
“I have been trying to win the championship for 10 years now and so this is the culmination of a lot of hard work.
“I was so nervous going into the final race. I don’t usually get nervous at all, but I could feel myself shaking. However, once the lights go, the adrenalin kicks in, and we did what we needed to do.
“I want to thank my wife for putting up with all the hours we spend on these cars. People don’t realise how long we take to prepare these cars. So, thanks to her.
“Now we will be back next year, hopefully - maybe in a 106, but, yeah I hope to defend my title.”
Calne’s Thornton-Norris took the overall Saloon victory, grabbing the lead at the start from pole sitter Adam Prebble. Adam initially kept the 2016 and 2017 Saloon Champion honest, but Thornton-Norris gradually eased ahead in his Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart, winning by 1.9 seconds. Gary Prebble was third, 0.4 seconds behind his younger brother, while Bristolian Matthew Parr did all he could to claim the overall title by winning Class D, but was always the outsider heading into the event as he was nine points behind Slade
“It’s a bit of yin and yang,” Thornton-Norris said. “I am positive about the overall victory, which is what I wanted. It was all that was within my control, but it is a bit of a shame I didn’t win the championship again. It’s gone to a worthy winner, however: congratulations to Adrian.
“Thanks to Castle Combe and all the marshals too. It’s been a good season again. Now we will have the winter off and we will see everyone again in March/April for the Howard’s Day season opener.”
Meanwhile, the scrap for the Simonstone Castle Combe Racing Club (CCRC) GT Championship also went down to the wire, with ‘Queen’ Ilsa Cox successfully defending her crown to deny Salisbury’s Tony Bennett. Both won their classes, with the latter also finishing third overall – but with Cox taking an extra point for the Class D fastest lap, they finished tied on points, handing her the crown as she has won nine races in 2018, compared to seven for Bennett.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said, “but I also feel terribly guilty as Tony has been racing with me all year and he has finished every race: he deserved it as much as me I am afraid. I am so sorry.
“But I am so delighted to win. I love this place as you all know and that’s why I keep coming back.”
In terms of the overall GT victory, Tetbury’s David Krayem led from lights-to-flag in his Chrysler Viper Oreca GT3, converting a dominant pole position into an equally convincing victory – 19.4 seconds up on Bradley John. Krayem also later dominated the CCRC Sports v Saloons race, with Bennett runner-up and taking the ‘Driver of the Day’ accolade – some consolation after missing out on the GT title to Cox.
In the Melksham Motor Spaces CCRC Formula Ford race, this year’s Champion Luke Cooper had to settle for the runners-up spot in his Future Inns/Swift Cooper SC16, after a poor start negated the advantage of pole position. The Yatton Keynell youngster fought back, however, charging his way up from P5 at the end of lap 2 and more than 6.5 seconds off the lead after lap 6, to finish just 0.8 seconds off winner and last year’s Champion Josh Fisher. David Vivian completed the top-three.
As for the Pro Alloys Hot Hatch Challenge, Bath’s Will di Claudio took another comfortable win – his fourth in succession – despite a mid-race safety car period, while pole sitter Bristol’s Mark Wyatt recovered to second after starting from the pit lane. Matthew Bawtree was third.
Of the rest, Ben Rowe and Shaun Traynor took a win-apiece in the closely fought 705MC MR2 Series races, while Jason Timms and James Drew-Williams each took a victory in the Monoposto Tideman Trophy, the latter also claiming the spoils in the event-concluding Single Seater Challenge, 34.6 seconds up on Peter Venn. Tom Hawkins won the FF1600 Carnival – incorporated as part of the final race.
The action now resumes at Castle Combe next weekend (September 22) with Rallyday - Europe's premier rally car show. Tickets are on sale now. Further details – including how to purchase a thrilling white-knuckle ‘Rally Passenger Ride’ (limited availability) – at www.rallyday.com
Phone: 01249 782417 Castle Combe, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 7EY
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