Calne racer nurses impaired car to finish at the Grand Finals Race Day, again securing the CCRC Pro Alloys Saloon Car championship.
Simon Thornton-Norris took the Castle Combe Racing Club (CCRC) Saloon Car title at the Grand Finals meeting over the weekend (Saturday, September 14), despite having to limp his Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart to the chequered flag.
Thornton-Norris, Saloon title winner in 2016 and 2017, came into the event with a slender four-point lead over fellow West Country racer, Matt Parr and in qualifying he put his #97 car on the front row – only 0.003 seconds off pole position man Gary Prebble.
However, the race did not go to plan, and a poor start saw the Calne ace slip to seventh, before mechanical issues mid-race led to him haemorrhaging time.
He eventually managed to nurse his car home, albeit in 16th and last position, 4 laps down on the leaders – but still sufficient to take the Class B victory, as he was the only Class B driver still running. It also meant crucially that he scored enough points to deny Parr the overall CCRC Pro Alloys Saloon title - the Bristolian having to console himself with the Class C win and the ‘Driver of the Day’ accolade.
Thornton-Norris was relieved at the finish, the result coming after an emotional few weeks given he and his wife celebrated the birth of Spencer just seven days before.
“It’s really good to take the title again, not quite as smooth as previous years, but even with the little hiccups here and there, I managed to just about get where we needed to be,” Thornton-Norris said.
“When we had that problem - and I don’t know what is wrong with the car at the moment, but driveshaft, steering arm, shock absorber, whatever it is - my heart sank when that went. But I managed to just about nurse it. I was praying for the chequered flag from the moment it happened and it all worked out in the end.”
“The Championship is good, but the second child is the most amazing thing,” he added. “It is my third child now overall, so I am looking forward to going home and celebrating with them – although he is a bit young for some prosecco!”
“Will I defend the title? I think I probably will come back. I want to do Time Attack with the Evo [in 2020], and so if dates clash, I will probably do Time Attack as a priority, but it would be nice to do all of the rounds again at Castle Combe. I love racing here. It is amazing.”
Meanwhile, at the front, Gary Prebble led almost throughout, until problems on the final lap handed Alex Kite the victory. Adam Prebble – Gary’s brother – took third, with Tony Dolley fourth and a disappointed Parr fifth.
In the CCRC Melksham Motor Spares Formula Ford Championship, Somerset’s Josh Fisher ended his title winning season with his sixth victory of the year following another exciting scrap with brother Felix – only 0.228secs between them at the end of the 15-lap duel.
Bath’s Chris Acton was third, while Yatton Keynell’s Luke Cooper was unable to compete after his car sustained accident damage the previous weekend at Brands Hatch.
“It was a good way to end it,” said Josh, now a three-time Castle Combe Formula Ford Champion. “It was nice to come here with no pressure and win the race: the last one of the year here.
“It was close and it has been close all year. I think Felix had a few issues during the race with some gears and stuff, well that is his excuse anyway! But I was quicker in the right areas to defend the lead and we were yo-yoing in front all race. I felt quite comfortable, and it is a great to win for the team on such a glorious day and in front of a nice crowd.
“I think I have driven well this year and the car has been good. I don’t think I could have done much more, so I am really pleased.
“It would be nice to return in 2020: if Luke and Felix comeback, and if a couple of others get in the mix. I think the wheel-to-wheel racing is the fun bit and if there is a good grid, why not come back [and go for my fourth Castle Combe Formula Ford crown].”
Elsewhere, in the CCRC Reis Motorsport Insurance GT Championship, Kevin Jones dominated in his Noble M12, taking pole, fastest lap and the race win, 31.182secs up on the returning Barry Squibb. Oliver Bull was third.
Jamie Sturges, the 2019 Castle Combe GT title winner, brought his VW Golf TCR home in fourth and scooped the Class D win - his eighth of the season from a possible nine. Sturges also took the overall win in the final race of the day, the standalone CCRC Sports v Saloons race, lapping the entire field bar runner-up, Kite, who was 45.689secs adrift.
Craig Tomkinson converted pole position into a lights-to-flag triumph in the Samco Sport CCRC Hot Hatch Challenge, finishing 5.070secs up on Gary Prebble, with Sam Stride third followed by William Oakley and Class B winner, Tony Cooper in P5.
Of the rest, Andrew Thompson and Bill Lancashire took a win each in the Aero Racing Morgan Challenge, while Sam Summerhayes pulled off the double in the Dunlop Mini Miglia Challenge, although both races were nose-to-tail affairs with the leaders separated by just tenths at the chequered flag. It was a similar tale in the Dunlop Mini Se7en Challenge, although Joe Thompson was denied both wins after incurring a 10-second penalty in the second race for a jump start, dropping him to fifth and handing Jeff Smith that race two triumph.
- The action now resumes at Castle Combe next weekend (September 21) with Rallyday - Europe's premier rally car show. Tickets are on sale now. Further details at www.rallyday.com.