The Castle Combe circuit’s home grown championships are loved and respected by the many thousands of followers who spend their Bank Holidays at the Wiltshire track.
At most events, both drivers and supporters have to make do with a single helping of each, but on Monday August 28, the circuit’s Formula Ford 1600, ‘GTs’, ‘Saloons’ and the latest ‘Hot Hatch’ series have twice the fun, with double header rounds for all.
For the drivers taking their points gathering seriously, the day will be a crucial one. For all of the championships, the titles are likely to be decided by narrow margins, so a poor day could result in catastrophic consequences for those in the hunt, as after this event there will be just one further points scoring opportunity, at the final meeting on October 14th.
Clocking up two outright wins and a second place from the last three rounds has been Bradley John from Cowbridge who now has a useful 4 point lead in the ‘Castle Combe GT Championship’ with his Mitsubishi Evo.
Following her class D win at the last round earlier this month, Hove’s Ilsa Cox heads that class and holds second overall, within range of John. Her SEAT Leon Cupra now appears to have been tamed, which will help her stay ahead of reigning champion, Chris Vinall from Axminster in a similar car and the Audi TT of Calne’s Tony Hutchings tied in second place with Vinall.
Portishead’s Oliver Bull, the 2015 champion, is the highest placed driver in what could be regarded as a ‘non production’ car, his Vauxhall Tigra ‘Silhouette‘ second to John in class A and equal 3rd with Salisbury’s Tony Bennett in his Caterham R300.
Fresh from his win in his MG Midget clone in the GTs last time out is Chris Southcott from Curridge, Hants’ who will have the similar car of his father Andy as an interesting rival.
Another class A possibility is former quadruple Combe FF1600 champion Bob Higgins in his family run Ginetta G55, still in touch as a title contender.
The Castle Combe Formula Ford 1600 championship points situation remains a little in limbo following the last round when the competition between Wellingborough’s Michael Moyers and Bridgwater’s Josh Fisher became a little too close for comfort.
With Moyers ending his race in the new barriers at Quarry and Fisher going on to win and create a provisional 26 point lead, a protest was made by Moyers over Fisher’s engine, leaving the situation in limbo until the motor has been stripped.
A great drive by 2016 champion Roger Orgee, from Langford, saw him manoeuvre his new Ray chassis into second by the flag, so he too remains in contention, as does Rob Hall from Bromyard also in a Ray.
The appalling luck of Luke Cooper from Yatton Keynell seems everlasting, losing a plug lead whilst ahead of the rest in his Swift last time.
A class B win by Tewkesbury’s Paul Barnes last time sees him moving clear of his previously close rivals, whilst Andrew Higginbottom from Llantwit Major has his fellow Wayne Poole Racing team mate, Steve Bracegirdle, hot on his heels after the latter’s class win at the previous round.
Only one man has a perfect score in the ‘Castle Combe Saloon Car championship’, making him the obvious favourite to retain the title from 2016. Very few will have ever seen a Colt Ralliart anywhere other than at the front of a race at Castle Combe, yet despite the road car’s rarity Calne’s Simon Thornton-Norris has created an all-conquering machine, his class B wins now almost a formality.
Just one win and a fastest lap short of a full house is Mike Good from Brixham in the Corsa, now clear of Alex Kite from Dursley after the Citroen Saxo’s retirement last time.
Class C cars filled 6 of the top 8 places in the last August race, making this the most difficult class within which to challenge for the overall title. Sturminster Newton’s Geoff Ryall remains on top, his ability to snatch fastest laps from multiple winner Will Di Claudio from Corsham helping his cause. Nevertheless, Di C’s ability to run right at the front is his trademark, only Southampton’s Gary Prebble in his SEAT Leon Cupra above him when the dust settled on August 13.
Amongst those looking for reliability after annoying issues last time are Calne’s Tony Hutchings in the Audi TT, Bath’s Dave Scaramanga in the VW Scirocco and class B’s Mark Wyatt from Bristol in the Astra.
Two of the races where points gathering is of no consequence is the circuit’s ‘Hot Hatch Challenge’ series. Wyatt will be a main feature here but expect the Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi of Southampton’s Gary Prebble to be very close and the Craig Tomkinson 2 litre Nova not far behind either.
The visiting races have the old British Motor Corporation (BMC) in common. ‘Mighty and Super Mighty Minis’ need little explanation apart from the fact they are 1.3 injection versions of the later model Minis. The ‘Supers’ are allowed a few more mod’s than the ‘Mightys’, but in either case the racing is unbelievably close, as those who watched them at Combe last October will testify.
The ‘MG Midget and Sprite Challenge’ also has a clue in the title, the championship having run for 40 years this year. Most ‘Spridgets’ are eligible, a variety of classes catering for very highly modified examples, to almost road going. The last time we saw these brilliant little cars at Castle Combe was 2015, so their return is much awaited.
Monday's action starts at 8.30 am with qualifying, racing getting under way from 12.00 noon.
Click here to make your advance booking. Normal admission prices are £15 for Adults and £10 for OAPs, whilst accompanied children under 16 are admitted free. ‘Paddock Transfer’ is free if the tickets are purchased in advance.
Phone: 01249 782417 Castle Combe, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 7EY
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