Castle Combe - 14th and 15th July 2007

The seven week break since Snetterton had given us the chance to fit a new cylinder head, after the previous one was found to be cracked. A quick test at Brands showed it was fine, so off we set to Combe. Upon arrival we found our area already very full and set up camp next to the Craig team. Scrutineering was “in situ” which was very civilised. Practice was very crowded with 45 cars on track, it made the M25 look quiet.

Rod secured pole position with Andy Thompson alongside, although 2.2 seconds slower. With Greg Rose and Martin Johnston both missing, the next quickest class A car was John Cross back in ninth just ahead of Ray Barrow. Third on the grid was local driver Tim Maddocks in a very smart Honda Civic, which was on slicks for the first time. Then came Chris Adams followed by Richard Brent, although all three class C cars were covered by only 0.8 of a second. Alex Heynes lined up sixth in his BMW (although he actually started from the back, as he was still a reserve at the time the grid was printed) followed by the leading tin top, Darren Ferguson in his Peugeot. Nigel Craig said he didn’t mind the bumps in his Subaru, which lined up 11th, followed by returnee Phil Danbury in his BMW. Another local driver, Alex Ferguson posted 13th quickest time and alongside him was Nick Hayes in the former Anthony Ahmed VW Golf. The rest are shown on the results page but special mention to Peter Wilkinson and Andy Wickens who both repaired their cars after the Snetterton incident.

Race one was late on Saturday afternoon, and after two rolling laps (in order to remove Gemma Morris’s stricken Mini which suffered driveshaft failure) the charge was on. Ray Barrow was tapped into a spin immediately, but somehow everyone avoided him, although Ray limped into retirement with flat spotted tyres and a severe vibration. Peter Wilkinson joined from the pitlane, having been pushed off the grid when his engine started to overheat.

Although Rod cruised to an 11 second win, a good battle developed for the runner up spot. Richard Brent put his circuit knowledge to good use and secured the spot with some very hard driving. Andy Thompson finished three seconds back in third, with Tim Maddocks having the same gap back to fourth. Chris Adams had battled with the other Honda initially but gradually fell back into a secure fifth. John Cross moved up to sixth overall although he did have an incident with Andy Pipe whilst lapping him. John blamed an inconsistent brake pedal for the contact, whilst Andy retired with a badly damaged door.

Stephen Craig usurped his father and took 7th overall (third in class A) for his best result of the year so far. Not far behind was Alex Ferguson who took class D honours and on treaded tyres. Son Darren had retired his giant killing tin top Peugeot, which meant Gary Chappell took the class honours. Amongst the other retirements were Lee McNair who had a wheel at an unusual angle, Graham Bahr (brake problems) Greg Pye (engine), Graham Richardson (engine), Mike Edgell (engine), Andy Wickens (dashboard fire).

As usual there were herds of cars having battles throughout the field, one group comprised Mark Hoskin (Audi),Rick May (Sierra), Andrew Williams (Sapphire), Peter Wilkinson (Nissan), both Andrew and Peter having driven through from the tail. Peter’s drive earnt him the Quaife “driver of the race” award. Another pack contained Barry Vincent (Rover Vitesse 827), Andy Woods-Dean (Renault Megane), Alex Heynes and Bill Richards. Yet again this showed the true variety in the championship.

Saturday night we enjoyed the carvery and entertainment from a guitarist called Junior. Julia and Ray Barrow danced away to “Mustang Sally”, Ray having also given us an impromptu burnt out (dragster style) to clean his flat spotted tyres. Several drivers were re-fettling their trusty steeds and Stewart attended to a wheel stud problem on our car.

Sunday dawned damp from overnight rain with more forecast during the day. By race time a dry line had appeared and most drivers opted for slicks. You guessed it, as they set off for the rolling laps it started to rain. With a very packed programme the decision was taken to unleash the field, with the exception of Mark Hoskin who pulled in, hoping his crew had brought the wet tyres into the pit lane. Unfortunately they were the wrong side of the fence.

Up front Richard had challenged Rod on the run into Quarry, but Rod held on and tentatively pulled out a small lead. Andy Thompson pounced when Richard went a bit wide, Richard’s team having fitted a new gearbox overnight with instructions to bring it home in one piece. Rod maintained the gap to Thompson and took win number 450 by almost six seconds. Richard just hung onto third from a fast closing Stephen Craig, getting the best from his 4 wheel drive Subaru.

Tim Maddocks slithered around on his slicks and again managed to hold off Chris Adams, even though Chris took fastest lap in class C. Nigel Craig moved up to seventh, with Barry Vincent having an excellent run to 8th. Bill Richards revelled in the damp to take class E honours and 9th overall, from a titanic battle between the class D Peugeots of Andy Mitchell and Alex Ferguson. Alex’s treaded tyres proved slightly superior and he took the class honours along with the driver of the race award. Alex vowed to join our championship again soon. Peter Crewes took 12th from Kevin Bird’s well driven Seat. Then came Darren Ferguson having charged up from the back of the grid. Darren also won the tin top class convincingly.

Despite the conditions everyone drove very sensibly. John Cross had a lurid spin in front of the pits and then called it a day, whilst Peter Wilkinson suffered a puncture. The rest stayed on the black stuff,including Russell Harding who also picked up a slow puncture but soldiered on.  The clerk of the course and other officials were full of praise for our drivers. Incidentally, Anthony Ahmed took the best prepared car award with his immaculate Seat Ibiza.