Saloon Championship in association with National Windscreens - Qualifying - The microclimate was holding up well by the time the saloons took to the track with the sun bouncing brightly off the bonnets of all 33 cars that filed out onto the track.
Not much can be taken from early lap times in the saloon championship as the huge field always needs a couple of laps to sort themselves out a bit of track space in readiness for a quick lap. Once settled, a sense of deja vous from a fortnight ago prevailed as Prebble set the time to beat, with Bill Brockbank the next strongest challenger. The black Scirocco of Dave Scaramanga looked noticeably racy on track, backed up by lap times placing him third quickest. Just six laps in the red flags were employed again, and with the schedule already under pressure from the stoppages in the GT session, the cars were sent straight under the Avon Bridge back to the paddock. The cause of the stoppage became apparent as the recovery truck appeared on the horizon carrying the distinctive black and white SEAT of Bill Brockbank with a heavy rear end impact, undoubtedly ending his days racing. Just before the red flag, Prebble’s more colourful SEAT seemed to slow significantly leaving onlookers wondering if he had a problem.
So all eyes would be on the front row come race time with P2 sure to be vacant and a question mark over the pole man. The second row who could find themselves with a clear view up to Avon Rise comprised of Dave Scaramanga in his VW Scirocco in P3 alongside the ever rapid Will Di Claudio.
The much anticipated return of Tony Hutchings following his car-totalling accident this time last year seemed to be a successful maiden voyage for the now all-white Audi TT, securing 5th on the grid, just two tenths clear of the Renault of Oliver Cook.
Mark Wyatt would start the race as the fastest class B protagonist on row 4, this time getting the better of reigning champ Simon Thornton-Norris.
After losing out to rival Mike Good last time out, Alex Kite must have been delighted to turn the tables, setting the best time in his class D Citroen Saxo, four places clear of Good’s Corsa. The track limits observers were kept busy with no less than four drivers having their best times disallowed.
The clouds finally broke during the closing stages of the previous HSCC race and the rain was still falling as the saloons assembled, meaning the MSA rules meant a second warm up lap. Fortunately by the time it came to grid up, it had all but stopped and the surface was hardly affected.
Any doubts over Prebble’s qualifying slow down diminished as he took up his pole position, alongside the predicted empty space where Brockback should have been. Other grid boxes were also vacated by Anderson, Keepin and Blake, all unable to fix the problems experienced in the qualifying session.
The red lights extinguished to a clean getaway for all, the immense power of the SEAT ensuring Prebble won the race to Quarry. John Barnard went off the line like a scalded cat to get straight on with business of challenging fellow Astra driver Julian Ellison. Haydn King’s race came to a premature end, going no further than the first chicane on the first lap. Hutchings showed he’d lost none of sharpness having been out of the saddle for a year with a lightening getaway, dispensing with both Di Claudio and Scaramanga to assume 2nd by the end of the opening lap. In class D Mike Good made the best of the start making up the 4 places to slot in front of rival Alex Kite.
Prebble pulled a comfortable lead over Hutchings who also gave himself breathing space from the battle for third between Scaramanga and Di Claudio, with the little Peugeot punching well above its weight keeping the much more powerful Scirocco on its toes.
Places were swapping in all classes, reigning champion Norris edged in front of class rival Wyatt and set about chasing the leaders, while Alex Kite made up for his poor start and retook the class lead from Mike Good. Di Claudio found himself having to turn defensive coming under attack from Oliver Cook, mounting a successful challenge on lap 5, taking Norris through with him who’s Colt was now well and truly into its stride, stealing third on the eighth tour of the circuit. This left Cook battling with Scaramanga, resulting in a ‘moment’ for them both on the 11th lap, sending them both tumbling down the order with Cook coming off the worst.
Norris meanwhile was on a mission, eating away at the gap to Hutchings with each lap and was rewarded with a successful pass on lap 11. With not enough race distance left to close the gap to the leader, Prebble made it two out of two, taking the flag 5 seconds ahead from Norris who took the class B honours a massive 11 places ahead of Wyatt. Hutchings held comfortably onto 3rd with Di Claudio securing another impressive finish in 4th and dominant class C victory. Dave Scaramanga took 5th ahead of Julian Ellison who only just managed to fend off Geoff Ryall to hang on to 6th. After pushing Mike Good across the line in round 1, Alex Kite exacted his revenge this time, taking the class D victory in an impressive 12th place overall.
With perfect scores in both rounds and securing fastest laps in the process, Gary Prebble and Simon Thornton-Norris go into round three leading their respective classes and are tied for the overall championship lead. Will Di Claudio trails them by two points; which went the way of Geoff Ryall who secured the fastest class C laps in both rounds. Alex Kite and Mike good are tied at the top of class D with one win and one fastest lap a piece.Posted by Altima Digital on Monday 8 May 2017
at Castle Combe Circuit
22 April 2019