Castle Combe Report by Rod Birley

Overnight heavy rain gave way to a reasonably dry, but blustery day at Castle Combe. A closure on the M4 meant that all our drivers just about arrived on time for the qualifying session, which was slightly later than originally scheduled. Fastest in the 15 minute session was a driver with good experience at Combe, namely Reuben Taylor. Reuben often competes in the local special GT championship, so has his Peugeot 206 well set up for the undulations of the circuit. Ian Hales set a time just 0.2 of a second slower to take second spot, whilst Daniel Smith posted the third quickest time in his Mercedes. Danny Hunn benefitted from a Thursday test session at the venue to take fourth spot in the Scrapco team Ford Fiesta, despite a gear box change. Mark Sear put his green Ginetta into fifth with Fabio Luffarelli annexing sixth spot in his invitation class VW Corrado. Fabio elected to start from the rear of the grid in accordance with his car having a motorcycle engine. Danny Smith just pipped his father Colin to 7th, with the top ten completed by Paul Knight (leading senior runner) and Mick Robertson. The rest of the grid comprised Philip Young, Philip Blackford, Phil Spinks, Jon Price and John Steward.

Race one saw a storming start by No.33 Daniel Smith who snatched the initial lead, but Taylor reasserted himself on lap 2. The lead battle intensified as Hales and Sear latched on to make it a four way tussle. On lap 4 Daniel Smith regained the lead with an audacious move around the outside of Taylor. Reuben tried hard to retaliate, but then had to defend against Hales. Ian was struggling with a spongey brake pedal but did not give up. At the chequered flag the blue Mercedes had a 1.3 seconds lead as Taylor just held off Hales. Sears kept a watching brief on the podium battle but had to settle for fourth. Next up was 490 Danny Smith as he held off a charging Knight, which meant Paul won the senior class. Young kept his consistent run going by taking a good 7th spot, with Blackford a hard earnt eighth. The No.88 Peugeot driver also received the driver of the race award, as he has suffered a fair degree of misfortune this year. John Steward drove well to take the runner up spot in the senior class with Jon Price completing the finishers. Sadly we suffered five non finishers as Colin Smith,  Hunn and Spinks had punctures, Luffarelli had an engine belt brake and Robertson had a leaky half shaft.

Local commentator Chris Dawes did the honours with the second race grid draw, which saw No.6 pulled out of the bag. This meant that sixth place finisher Paul Knight assumed pole position. At the start Danny Smith braved it out around the outside and had the lead into Camp corner. At the second chicane there was a kerfuffle as Knight and Taylor went missing, this left Danny Smith in the lead with Hales in second. With Sears in third and No.33 Daniel Smith in fourth it soon became a four car train again. Colin Smith had made sterling progress to pop up in fifth, with Young in sixth. Another driver making up places was Luffarelli, as he moved through into sixth. Meanwhile Hales slipped past Danny Smith into the lead on lap two and got his head down to break away. Sear took until lap 5 to find a way into second place as the 490 Tigra steadfastly held his line. A lap later and Daniel Smith occupied third, which meant that Sear now had his mirrors full of the blue Mercedes. On lap 8 Daniel Smith appeared in second position, but was now 4.5 seconds behind Hales. Could he close the gap? Well he certainly tried, but Hales kept his nerve and although the gap was trimmed to below 3 seconds at one stage Ian held on to take his first win. Daniel Smith settled for second with Sear completing the podium. Danny Smith kept his father Colin at bay for fourth, which earnt him the driver of the race award. Luffarelli was safe in sixth, although the battling Spinks (senior class winner) and Robertson did close up towards the end. Blackford was close behind in ninth, enjoying a solid reliable run. Steward completed the finishers, as Price retired on lap on lap six and Young pulled off after a grassy moment filled his radiator with debris. The only non-starter for race 2 was Danny Hunn, who sadly had clutch failure on his way to the grid.

All in all it was two entertaining races. It would have been nice to see a few more cars, but those that took part generally enjoyed the fast nature of the track. It is now back to Brands Hatch on October 23rd as part of the Formula Ford festival.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *