The Castle Combe circuit’s ‘West Country Cracker’ meeting over the weekend of August 12 and 13 saw drivers from the region taking most of the wins from the event organised by the locally based ‘Classic Sports Car Club’ (CSCC).
Two of the most impressive of those victories came in the CSCC’s ‘Swinging Sixties’ races.
Getting the weekend under way, Radstock brothers Olly and Julian Howell were totally dominant winners of the ‘Group One’ two driver race. Their 1380cc Mini was in action for the first time in 2 years, the pair qualifying on the front row, alongside the similar car of Clive Tonge and Vaughn Winter.
A good start by Olly gave the Mini a lead which it only briefly lost in the pit stop, Julian going on to make up all the time lost when the race was neutralised under a Code 60 period to go on to win by a massive 27”.
Fellow Radstock inhabitant, Ross Whittock, took his 'rally spec' Mini to 10th overall in a rare circuit racing outing.
In the ‘Swinging Sixties’ Group 2 section Westbury’s Mike Dowd and Glastonbury’s Jeremy Cooke, took their Lotus Elan 26R from pole to a dominant win, some half a minute ahead of their nearest rivals.
Dominic Malone from Widcombe, Bath entered two of the weekend’s races, putting his BMW M3 on the front row for both. Sadly, Saturday’s ‘Open Series’ race was abandoned after a collision at Folly on the opening lap.
Sunday’s ‘New Millenium’ race for post 2000 production based cars, saw Malone start from pole, initially headed by the Porsche 911 of Feltwell’s Peter Challis, only to take the lead after the compulsory pit stops, going on to win by some 14”.
Fellow Widcombe resident, David Marcussen, brought his BMW M3 from 7th on the grid to that place at the finish.
Father and son Andy and Chris Southcott from Curridge brought their pair of MG Midget clones to the circuit’s GT championship race, providing an interesting contrast to the likes of the Lamborghini Gallardo of Jordan Billington and the BMW M6 driven by Bal Sidhu.
Interestingly, it was the elder Southcott’s Midget which was the dominant force, winning by 3 seconds from Bradley John’s Mitsubishi Evo and the Caterham CSR of Simon Smith. Pole man Tony Bennett from Salisbury was 4th in his Caterham, Portishead’s Oliver Bull took his Ford engined Vauxhall Tigra Silhouette to 5th, with Hove’s Ilsa Cox a fine 6th and first of the conventional road cars in her SEAT Leon Cupra. John now takes the championship lead with Cox in second place.
The circuit’s ‘Saloon Car Championship’ race saw drama on lap 8 when Bournemouth’s Nigel Marsh rolled his Mini into the infield, catching the grass and the car alight. Thankfully Marsh came away unharmed.
Southampton’s Gary Prebble, who was leading from Calne’s Simon Norris in the class B Mitsubishi Colt prior to the stoppage, was briefly headed by Will Di Claudio on the re-start, but was soon back in control. Nevertheless, Prebble’s SEAT was kept on its toes right to the flag, with Norris right behind him on the road, but in reality, classified 4th after a 5” penalty for exceeding track limits.
Nevertheless, Norris extended his championship lead, helped by Kelston’s Di Claudio being pipped to fastest lap in class C by the similar 106 GTi of Sturminster Newton’s Geoff Ryall. The penalty for Norris placed Di Claudio 2nd and Ryall 3rd overall.
The class C influence continued up to 8th place with 5th overall taken by Bristol’s Hadyn King, also 106 mounted.
Bristol’s James Keepin took his relatively unmodified MG ZR to a brilliant 6th, Chippenham’s Martin Chivers in his similar car 7th and Shepton Mallet’s Mike Ritchie 8th in the Honda Integra Type R.
Brixham’s Mike Good was lucky to take the class D win after Dursley’s Alex Kite Saxo retired his class D Saxo.
Regular Combe saloon championship runners Kevin Bird and son Charles from Ditcheat, looked as though they would dominate the CSCC ‘Modern Classics’ race having qualified Dad’s Nissan 200SX on pole by over a second. The expected win failed to materialise however, with mechanical failure on lap 3, fastest lap being the only consolation.
Bridgwater’s Josh Fisher looks to have extended his lead in the circuit’s Formula Ford 1600 championship after his arch –rival, Wellingborough’s Michael Moyers ended his race in the barriers at Quarry after the pair tangled once too often. However, following two protests by Moyers against Fisher, the first of which, for driving standards, was thrown out, the points situation remains in limbo. The second protest against the engine in Fisher’s Van Dieman JL14 will be investigated, the outcome still being decided.
The pair, who qualified on the front row, had been engaged in the most furious battle, with Yatton Keynell’s Luke Cooper, Coventry’s Nathan Ward and Langford’s Roger Orgee all getting in on the act in the first 5 laps.
With Moyers in the barriers, a red flag was issued but thankfully, the circuit's new compressible safety barriers minimised the damage to the car and Moyers came away unharmed.
At the re-start, Fisher was down to 6th after the coming together with Moyers, Luke Cooper leading a train of cars headed by a well recovered Orgee. But by the second lap of the ‘round two’, Fisher had taken the lead, helped by Cooper having to visit the pits to replace a plug lead. This also helped Ward to 3rd, with Michael Eastwell, team mate to Moyers in the ‘Kevin Mills’ squad, a fine 4th and Bromyard’s Rob Hall, 5th. French driver Thomas Cappezzone took 6th on his first outing in the Swift.
Images courtesy of EDP Photo News
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