Combe Carnival 15 July 2023 Race Report by Stephen Whitfield
CCRC Formula Ford 1600
Reigning champion Felix Fisher maintained his slender advantage over chief rival Luke Cooper during two contrasting Formula Ford races. The pair were outpaced in qualifying by Oldfield Motorsport’s Lucas Romanek and 2020 FFord Festival champion Rory Smith, making his first Combe appearance in five years. Light rain before the opener made setup choices difficult. Smith made the better start to lead Romanek but the race was immediately red-flagged due to a three-car collision approaching Quarry between Tom Hawkins, Kane Tilley and Vincent Jay. Romanek made a better getaway second-time around, quickly breaking the tow to his pursuers before triumphing by an impressive 4.758 seconds in a Van Diemen JL13. His win was the first for a non-Cooper or Fisher family member since Ollie White won during the 2021 finale. Having chosen the wrong setup, Smith managed to resist pressure for second until the final lap, where he was passed by Cooper exiting Quarry and then Fisher moments later. Romanek bogged down from pole in a much wetter sequel and slipped to fourth, as Smith took an early lead. Having resisted a challenge into Quarry, Smith suffered wheelspin exiting Camp, allowing Fisher to sweep by before Avon Rise. The pair remained nose-to-tail, with Cooper following close behind, but Fisher held on for his fifth win of 2023. Romanek struggled early on and finished two seconds further adrift in fourth. Ben Mitchell beat Kieran Attwood to fifth in both races, while Sam Street edged Nathan Ward to seventh and Class B honours twice and David Cobbold took a brace of Class C wins. Team owner Wayne Poole made a surprise return behind the wheel in a Van Diemen RF89. The 2000 Class B Combe champion finished 12th in race one, but retired in race two.
CCRC GT Championship
Doug Watson was named driver of the day following a dominant brace of GT wins aboard his yellow Ferrari 488. Defending champion Kevin Bird qualified on pole for the opener, but he was beaten away by Watson on a drying circuit. Watson built an early seven-second lead before being pegged back in traffic, but Bird’s Porsche 991 then slowed and retired. That allowed Watson to cruise home during a late rain shower. It was a close affair for second, with 0.2s separating Class D winner James Sturges (VW Golf) and Class A victor Dylan Popovic (Ginetta G50). Alan Hamilton was not far behind in his Westfield Aero, comfortably beating Reuben Taylor to Class B honours. Watson made a slow start in race two but soon passed Bird’s son Charles before rain arrived. Bird Jnr quickly lost touch in the greasy conditions, eventually finishing 40s behind. He was almost caught at the finish by Popovic, who got the better of Sturges this time around in third, with Hamilton fifth – the trio again winning their respective classes. Alexander Baldwin won Class E both times aboard his Honda Civic.
CCRC Saloons Championship
Gary Prebble renewed his sibling rivalry with brother Adam in the Saloons, and they were joined in battle by Dave Spiller’s improved Audi TT. Adam led initially in his Vauxhall Astra before a better exit from Camp allowed Gary to move his Seat Leon ahead. A daring move around the outside put Adam back in front, but he then ran wide in traffic and was left defending second from Spiller. Gary pulled out an 8.5s advantage in the closing stages for his second win in a row ahead of his brother. John McMillan climbed from the back of the grid to fourth, having missed qualifying while replacing a radiator in his Renault Megane. Corey Webber won Class B with fifth overall in his Renault Clio, while a close battle for Class C spoils went the way of James Keepin from fellow MG driver Lee Waterman. Ben Hindle was eighth, while Peter Elliston prevailed in a scrap for ninth with Nathan Sutton, who was piloting his late father’s iconic title-winning MG. Michael Good’s Vauxhall Corsa took Class D spoils.
CCRC Hot Hatch Series
Shaun Goverd scored his fifth Hot Hatch Series triumph of the season in his almost unstoppable Citroen AX. He twice saw his commanding lead reigned in by the appearance of the safety car, but he remained ahead at both restarts before building a 9.5s winning margin. Joe Dorrington took Class F honours in second, having recovered from a slow start to make up three places in the opening four laps in a Honda Civic. James Allen was involved in a close battle with Peugeot 106 pair Shaun Deacon and Geoffrey Ryall, the latter recovering from 22nd on the grid. Class B winner Ryall snatched third on the final lap from Deacon, who won Class C, while contact resulted in Allen retiring his Civic before the finish. Jonathan Fish profited to take fifth and Class A victory. Kai Barker edged Joe Hathaway and Jake Alden to sixth in a Ford Fiesta ST150, with Hathaway only just making the race after his Clio suffered a wheel bearing failure. George Walker was the best of the Class E Minis in ninth.
Mark Sutton Remembrance Race
Popovic dominated the 30-minute remembrance race, held to honour recently-departed 2020 Saloons champion Mark Sutton. Nathan took sixth in his father’s MG alongside relay partner Good’s Corsa. McMillan enjoyed his earlier Saloons outing enough to join at the back, and he charged through to second within six laps. David Marcussen finished third after an early battle with fellow BMW racer Gavin Dunn. Hathaway was fifth, while Olly Kingston took seventh in his Mini Cooper ahead of Mark Williams and Gary Franks.
Normal Lackford Memorial Trophy
Two sports prototype races were held in memory of another fallen hero, Norman Lackford, with Radicals similar to those which ‘The Flying Cornishman’ once raced dominating the field. But it was a Praga R1T piloted by Darcy Smith that led most of the opener before retiring with downshift issues shortly after being passed by eventual victor Andy Fido, handing second to Doug Carter. Fido held off fellow SR3 racer John Gillman to win the sequel by less than a second, while Chris Child repeated his race one result with third.