Castle Combe Super Saloon/Tin Tops report

The first meeting of our new season saw an “away day” trip to Castle Combe in Wiltshire. The picturesque area is home to a challenging old school circuit, with no gravel traps and very little run off. It also has a fair number of undulations (we are not allowed to say it is bumpy). 


The morning dawned wet, with the predicted overnight rain continuing at the start of qualifying. Our first group on track were the BMR super saloons and tin tops. A sprinkling of new faces, plus some returning drivers, meant it would be interesting to see who could master the conditions. It turned out to be Josh Payton in his remarkable Ford Cortina Mk2. This car boasts a 2.5 litre Millington engine and the rally driver certainly revelled on the very wet track. Dave Cowan lined up second, going well in his BMW at a circuit which saw him have a big crash a couple of years ago. Rod Birley brought out his Escort WRC and claimed third spot, despite a small electrical issue. Leading tin top was Neal Gardiner in his Honda Civic and although Chris Bassett qualified his Peugeot in fifth, an alternator failure rendered him a non-starter. This meant Bradley Lane was second quickest tin top in his Honda and he would be followed by Peter Seldon. The BMW driver had benefitted from a track day at the circuit a couple of weeks previously. Peter’s sparring partner Martin Reynolds lined up alongside in his Ford Escort Mk2. The top ten was rounded out by Jacques Whitehead (BMW) and returnee Bob Hosier in his T1 Seat Leon. 

Next up was Martyn Scott, going well in his VW Golf, followed by another newcomer Matt Brennan in a smart Mk.2 Ford Escort. Having his racing debut was Lee Cleugh in a Audi TT, which he steered to an impressive 13th spot, followed by Adrian Matthews in his unique Volvo C30. Steve Dann had a badly misted windscreen, which hampered his progress in the VW Scirocco. Colin Claxton placed his Ford Escort RS2000 16th, Colin being one of three drivers who had hot footed it from Snetterton the previous day. Completing the 20 car grid were Nick Lunn (Honda Integra), Gideon September (Honda Civic), Angelo Massonetto in his “visit Brazil” Citroen Saxo and Ken Angell who had a sensor failure on his BMW 328i. Alex Baldwin also joined in with his class TP Honda Civic. 

The first race looked like it would be on a dry track, but a short sharp rain/hail shower in the previous race meant most drivers hurriedly changed onto wet tyres. The start saw Payton lead away with Birley slotting into second. Cowan held third as Lane moved into fourth, whilst Seldon demoted Gardiner to sixth. Reynolds held 7th with Scott going well in 8th, followed by Hosier and Dann. Meanwhile Birley drew alongside Payton on lap 3, but the local man fought back at Quarry corner. However, at Tower Rod powered alongside to take the lead. The black Escort gradually drew away as the red Cortina started to slip back on a rapidly drying track. On lap five Lane moved into second, going really well in his tin top Honda. Two laps later and Seldon past Payton to take third. Then it was Cowan’s turn, as he gained fourth spot. Gardiner maintained sixth throughout the race, whilst Reynolds slowed and pulled off on lap 9 as his wet tyres started to overheat. Scott’s impressive start faded slightly as he fell behind Hosier and Dann, ending up tenth. 

From the back of the grid Baldwin made very good progress up to 11th. Matthews held off Angell for 12th, they were followed by Brennan and September. Completing the finishers were Cleugh (who won the Caesar electrical driver of the race award) and Lunn. An unfortunate non-starter was Colin Claxton, who had a turbo problem with his Escort. On the podium Birley pointed out that his wet weather tyres had just about survived, whilst Lane was overjoyed to get second overall. 

Race two was on a completely dry track. The rolling start saw Rod blast off into the lead closely pursued by the fast starting Payton. The first two quickly pulled away from Lane and Cowan as Seldon slipped back to fifth. The lead battle was certainly on between the two Fords, but just as Birley started to edge clear a tyre stack was dislodged at Bobbies. Scott had clipped the offending tyres whilst battling with Angell. This prompted the safety car to appear, which closed everyone up. It took just one lap for the efficient marshals to clear the obstacle, so racing quickly resumed. Payton had another go at Birley, but turbo power prevailed as Rod took his second win of the day. Payton deservedly won the Caesar driver of the race award. Seldon really benefitted from the safety car as he had just overtaken Cowan and was now able to close on Lane. Two laps later and he past the Honda to take third. Lane was well clear of Cowan, whilst Gardiner was second tin top home in sixth. Reynolds drove well from the back to take 7th nipping past T1 winner Hosier on the last lap. Whitehead and class B winner Dann completed the top ten, as Angell got the better of Baldwin for 11th. September, Brennan and Lunn rounded out the finishers, whilst along with Scott both Matthews and Cleugh retired. Massonetto unfortunately was unable to start. 

So it was an interesting couple of races, no doubt influenced by the changing weather conditions. Mallory Park is the next stop and this will be more familiar to most of our drivers.

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