The Castle Combe circuit’s three championships reach a nail biting conclusion on Saturday October 14 when outright champions will be decided after a season’s thrilling competition.
Thankfully the circuit’s Formula Ford 1600 championship title will be decided on track now that the protests affecting the then top two contenders have been thrown out.
This leaves a fascinating trio of rivals potentially able to claim the crown. Prior to the last meeting, Roger Orgee from Langford seemed out of the running, but after Wellingborough’s Michael Moyers and Bridgwater’s Josh Fisher clashed at Quarry for the second meeting in a row, the 2015 and 2016 champion is now a serious prospect for a 3rd title.
There are multiple points scenarios at play for this final round, but should the unthinkable happen and Fisher and Moyers eliminate each other, Orgee only needs a 5th place to take a hat trick of titles.
Orgee’s ‘KMR’ team mate, Moyers, has the most difficult task. To take his first ‘Combe’ crown, he needs Fisher to finish outside of the top 20 and for him to win. Fisher on the other hand just needs to stay within range of the other two, protected by his 15 points lead over Orgee and 21 over Moyers.
The classes are also undecided, with plenty to play for there too. The Class A situation is similar to the outright, except Moyers and Orgee are tied on 45 points in second, with Fisher 12 ahead, equal to a win in hand.
Class B is led by Moulton’s Richard Morris in the Swift SC92 after two wins at the last double header meeting, but Tewkesbury’s Paul Barnes and Shaun Macklin are still within range in their similar cars.
The C class is all about Wayne Poole Racing’s Wales based team mates Andrew Higginbottom from Llantwit Major and Steve Bracegirdle from Llanvair Discoed, only 3 points apart.
Many of the drivers in the championship race will also enjoy the traditional season ending Wessex Vehicle Services ‘Carnival Gold Cup’, especially with the prospect of generous prize money, champagne and trophies for various other achievements such as pole position and best driver over 50. The likes of Michael Eastwell from Awbridge, Rob Hall from Bromyard, Luke Cooper from Yatton Keynell and Coventry’s Nathan Ward will all be looking to end the 50th anniversary year of Formula Ford with a win. Joining them for a ‘one-off’ race is reigning B class champion, David Vivian from Bradford on Avon.
If the FF1600 battle looks tight, that for the ‘Castle Combe GT’ championship is as close as it gets. Tied on 31 points are class D racer Ilsa Cox from Hove in her SEAT Leon Cupra and Class A’s
Bradley John from Cowbridge in his Mitsubishi Evo. Cox has a marginal advantage as she has 3 fastest laps to her credit against the one for John, so if both win their respective classes, the lady is the champ’. That would be her 2nd title, after taking the saloons crown 20 years ago. The only other person able to take the title this year is Tony Bennett from Salisbury who took an outright win last time in his Caterham. He needs the others to have uncharacteristically poor races to have a chance of success though.
Adding to the excitement of the GTs is a host of ‘supercars’ in class C. Only Castle Combe could field two Lamborghini Gallardos in a home grown championship, one brought by Salisbury’s Nigel Mustill, a champion in ’89 and ’90 and the other by novice driver (!) Jordan Billinton from Ingatestone. Add to this a V8 Vantage Aston from regular Castle Combe saloon pilot Kevin Bird from Ditcheat and BMW M6 from Walsall’s Bal Sidhu and you have a mouth-watering combination.
No doubt the MG Midget clone of Chris Southcott from Curridge, Hants’, will surprise all of the afore-mentioned though.
Although Calne’s Simon Thornton-Norris has a perfect score of wins and fastest laps in his class this year in the ‘Castle Combe Saloon Car’ championship he could still be beaten to the title by Mike Good from Brixham. For that to happen, ST-N must fail to score, with Good beating his arch rival, Alex Kite from Dursley, winning his class and taking the point for fastest lap in the process.
Thornton-Norris could also be ‘reduced’ to joint outright champion, if Southampton’s Gary Prebble wins class A in his SEAT Leon Cupra. In that instance, with Good failing to claim maximum points, ST-N and Prebble would be absolutely equal on points, wins and fastest laps, creating the first ever joint champions. But all the local man has to do to take his second consecutive title is persuade his amazing Colt Ralliart to score just one point. Given his all-conquering ability this year, this looks easily achievable, but this is motorsport….
Whilst the class C drivers have taken enough points off each other this year to deny any of them the overall title, the class battle is one which will go to the end. Sturminster Newton’s Geoff Ryall finds himself just one point ahead of Will Di Claudio from Corsham, both in very similar 106 Peugeots. Ryall’s forte has been outright speed, five fastest laps helping his scoring, whilst Di Claudio’s six wins have also been blunted by a non-score in July with a gearbox issue.
Class B driver Mark Wyatt from Bristol may have had a relatively modest year in the saloons championship with his Astra, but in the new for ’17 ‘Hot Hatch Challenge’ series, he is the man to beat.
With no points to worry about there will be no tactical driving in this race, leaving the likes of Gary Prebble and Chris Southcott in their Peugeot 205 GTis and Craig Tomkinson in the 2 litre Nova to do all they can to defeat Wyatt.
All of the afore-mentioned get an extra chance to exercise their machines with an open ‘Sports v Saloons’ 20 minute race. Bridgwater’s Richard Higgins gets an outing in the family’s Ginetta G55, whilst former saloon car driver Rob Ballard from Melksham debuts his new Scirocco.
It’s not all about home grown circuit entertainment though. The visiting ‘Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club’ championship sees a variety of cars taking part in the double header, but it’s the two Marks, Messrs Sumpter and McAleer who are likely to be sharing the majority of the big points in their 996s.
Also rounding off its year with a double header is the Monoposto championship’s Tideman Trophy, featuring a variety of single seaters.
Saturday's action starts at 8.30 am with qualifying, racing getting under way from 12.00 noon.
Head here https://castlecombecircuit.co.uk/race-days/grand-finals-race-day/14/10/2017 to make your advance booking. Admission is £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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