CATERHAMS & CO MAKE A SPLASH AT CASTLE COMBE
It’s fair to say that the weather gods weren’t on anyone’s side at Castle Combe as the BRSCC South Western Centre hosted our second visit to the Wiltshire speed bowl. While the weather was relatively dry for most of Saturday’s racing, almost all of Sunday’s racing was conduction amidst rain showers and a wet track, making this notorious circuit even trickier.
For the CarThrottle Caterham Academy, they were able to get the better rub of the green as the White Group took its turn of running first in the timetable. Frontrunner Chris Moore proceeded to take full advantage of the bright and dry conditions to grab pole position and then race away to a victory by more than 3.5 seconds, with chief rivals Gregory Monks and Dan Piper sharing the podium spoils in 2nd and 3rd, the latter of the two having to keep Glenn Moule at bay to hold on to the final rostrum step.
By the time the race for the Green Group rolled around, the circuit had become damp with drizzle in the air which meant all drivers would need to keep their wits about them and their reflexes sharp. The top 5 in the field made sure they put on a classic display of Caterham racing, as in the end it was Larrs Alexander Hoffmann leading Greg Smith and Andrew Murgatroyd home in something of a photo finish that saw the top two separated by 0.036 seconds, with Murgatroyd ensuring the podium was covered by just over half a second and the top 5 by 1.1 seconds.
The weather had intensified for the first Draper Tools Caterham Roadsport Championship race, which saw a red flag in the first part after pole man Daniel Halstead, Matt Sheppard and Simon Goodwin all crashed out, forcing a race stoppage and a restart. Once racing was underway for part 2, it all fell into place for last year’s Academy Green Group champion Daniel French who wound up with the win ahead of Caterham CEO Graham MacDonald in a superb 2nd place and French’s main title rival James Murphy managing 3rd. Thankfully the conditions eased up for the second race, however a damp track would still provide its own challenges. This seemed to favour French substantially as he couldn’t be touched out in front, doing the double by over 6 seconds from Tom Allen in 2nd place, with MacDonald capping a useful weekend with another podium place in 3rd.
You could have judged solely on qualifying performance that Jamie Falvey, points leader in the ALACO Motorsport Logistics Caterham Seven 270R Championship, was looking to consolidate his place at the head of the table as he qualified on pole by 4 tenths of a second ahead of Jay McCormack. But while his pace in the dry was evident, in the wet McCormack was able to get the better of him. In fact, Falvey sadly wouldn’t even make past the opening lap leaving his rivals to pick up the points instead. McCormack took full advantage to win by more than 3 seconds from James Wingfield and Chris Bates, while fellow rival Pete Walters had to settle for 4th place. Race 2 took place on a drying track, but it also saw a complete reversal of fortunes for McCormack as he would be the one to retire, albeit on the last lap of the race along with Wingfield. It would be Chris Bates that took the win from Kieran McAleer and Gary Smith, with Walters 4th again and Falvey picking his way through the field to salvage points in 5th.
Not for the first time this season, Gordon Sawyer couldn’t be toppled from the top spot all weekend in the Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship as picked up wins in both races. Sawyer edged out Christian Szaruta for pole in qualifying before proceeding to run a lights-to-flag victory from start to finish 1.1 seconds ahead of double Zandvoort winner Chris Hutchinson and Tom Grensinger. Sawyer didn’t even let the wet conditions in Race 2 phase him either as he again led every lap from the word go to make it two from two from Nathan Bell and Hutchinson. This puts him in a superb position in the second half of the season for a shot at the championship, but there’s still two more race meetings for the Caterham Motorsport circus to run, with a visit to Thruxton next month coming up.
Away from Caterhams, the BRSCC Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres rolled into town with the overall title battle continuing to rumble on. Class C leader Harry Gooding was looking for another race win but he would have to settle for 2nd best behind defending class champion and former BTCC ace David Nye in the opening contest. He would take the win from Gooding with Danny Harrison scooping another podium in 3rd place, while Jamie White yet again won Class D ahead of Zachary Lucas and Luke Bannister and Mark Court dominating Class A. Gooding made sure the second race was his as he won from team boss Jamie Going a la Snetterton, with Tom Hutchins picking up the final podium place. The Jam-Sport duo then did the same again in the final race, with Nye completing his weekend with a 3rd place. Once again, White and Court took two more class wins each to complete respective hat-tricks.
The BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship racing with MRF Tyres saw points leader James Waite prove his wet weather prowess by taking the lead from pole man and rival Magnus Kriklywi and then race on to take victory in the first contest ahead of a super drive from Josh Steed in 2nd place and Isaac Smith grabbing another podium in 3rd. Then Steed went one better in the second race on a dry track as he outpaced Waite, picked up the lead on Lap 3 and then held on to secure his first Fiesta Junior victory ahead of Waite and Kriklywi in 3rd place.
Incredibly the Cox Motor Parts Civic Cup managed to escape the wet weather in both of their races on Sunday, although their run of different winners at every race weekend came to an end. Jason Ballantyne came through from the second row of the grid to take the win in the first race followed by points leader Rob Baker and Daniel Hobson. With the reverse grid race mixing up the field, Paul Taylor led the opening laps from pole for the first couple of laps, before Mark Grice worked his way past and headed the field to the chequered flag, followed by another charging drive from Baker in 2nd and David Buky completing the rostrum in 3rd.
It looked to be business as usual for former double Speed Group OSS Championship Josh Smith, as he was able to pick up a clean sweep of all three races aboard his Class C Radical, but in the early stages of all three he had to deal with a fast starting Patrick Sherrington in his Class A MCR. Smith made the best of the traffic in the second half of Race 1 to beat him to victory in the dry conditions, followed by Daniel Prendergast’s Radical in 3rd place. Smith’s task in Race 2 was slightly easier as at one point his lead was as much as 10 seconds before reducing his pace slightly to preserve his second win of the weekend from Sherrington in severely wet weather, with Darcy Smith taking 3rd. The hat-trick was completed in dry conditions once again, with the podium comprised of the same top 3 drivers from Race 1.
Mike Luck made sure two out of three wasn’t bad in the Dunlop TVR Challenge as he picked up a win each in both wet and dry conditions, but was sadly couldn’t complete the triple after retiring in Race 3. His Class B Chimaera managed to pick up the overall win in the first two, holding off the Class A Tuscan Challenge car of Matthew Holben and Class C and overall points leader Andy Race, before Holben picked up the win in the final race from Race and Michael Coker’s Griffith, as Luck’s Chimaera retired.