After a six week break since the last meeting, the Castle Combe Racing Club Championships regrouped as part of the BRSCC’s action packed weekender meeting. The weekend would see a varied a mix of racing as you are likely to see at any UK race meeting, from the classic Austin A35s of the HRDC Academy to the mega horsepower menacing machines of the Dunlop TVR Challenge. The timetable offers something for everyone; single seaters, sports racers, classic saloons, and one make series for Porsches, TVRs, BMW Compacts and VW Golfs.
With the local championships all slated to do battle on the Saturday, a cool morning dawned under a heavy cover of cloud with moisture in the air. No doubt this was a relief to many given the recent heatwave, which had it continued, would have no doubt tested engine cooling systems and tyres to the maximum. No rain was forecast but we all know that means nothing given Combe’s own micro climate!
FF1600 CHAMPIONSHIP - Round 4 Qualifying
Normal service resumed for the fourth round qualifying session with the KMR boys first out (minus reigning champion Roger Orgee who was missing due to family commitments) and Moyers quickly assuming his familiar place at the top of the time sheets. Nathan Ward was enjoying much better fortunes, slotting in behind teammate Moyers. The familiar pattern would not continue however as a thrilling display of place swapping would be played out over the next 15 minutes. First to topple Moyers from the top was Luke Cooper, despite having been bed ridden for the week leading up to the meeting with Chicken Pox. Moyers replied accordingly, setting a faster time, only to have it beaten almost immediately by Josh Fisher. Cooper then leapfrogged Moyers for a second time, but before he could set about challenging Fisher for pole, Nathan Ward relegated him to 3rd. Moyers dug deep on lap 10 and restored his position at the top of the time sheets. With the clock counting down, it looked like Moyers had done enough to save his bacon but Josh Fisher had other ideas, putting in a storming eleventh lap to take pole. The chequered flag was waved just after Nathan Ward had crossed the line giving him one last chance at improving his placing – a opportunity he didn’t pass up, beating Moyers time with the last throw of the dice to secure the front row spot alongside Fisher. Cooper joined Moyers on the second row ahead of Michael Eastwell, who was continuing his most impressive rookie year, getting the better of National Championship campaigner James Scott-Murphy. Richard Morris was comfortably the best of the class B runners, while David Cobbold just pipped rival Andrew Higginbottom in class C, although Cobbold returned his Van Diemen to the paddock well before the end of the session.
FF1600 CHAMPIONSHIP - Round 4 Race
The start of the FF1600 race was delayed while the circuit maintenance team effected repairs to the barriers at Quarry corner, following an incident in the preceding TVR race. As the single seaters sat patiently in the assembly area, reports of rain started to come in from the south and sure enough, a colourful collage of umbrellas started to bloom on the spectator banks. The grid formed with no gaps, despite some of the local drivers also having taken part in qualifying for the National FF race in between.
With an extra green flag lap signalled as per MSA regulations, no doubt the drivers were keen to use the opportunity to test the circuit’s adhesion before the start of the race. Ironically, this extra time allowed the rain to start to fall more heavily and also signalled the demise of Andrew Higginbottom’s Van Diemen.
A clean start saw Ward win the race to quarry and maintain the lead for the first lap. By the end of lap two however, Fisher had retaken the place although both had lost out to Moyers who had taken the lead on the south side of the circuit. Novice Eastwell made a successful move on Luke Cooper, only for Cooper to snatch it back half a lap later. The battling pair were actually reeling in Ward in front of them, possibly indicating all was not well with Ward’s Spectrum.
Moyers and Fisher broke away, even though the pair were locked in battle, Fisher swarming all over Moyer’s gearbox, eager to regain the lead. Ward was clearly struggling to get the nose of his car turned in and soon succumbed to Cooper’s pressure.
Fisher’s assault on Moyers was becoming more fierce with every lap and was rewarded on the seventh tour of the circuit, taking the lead, spoiling Moyers’ momentum in the process and allowing him to stretch an immediate gap. Although still raining, it didn’t seem to be settling and lap times indicated that grip levels were on the up. This was welcome news for Nathan Ward, switching from the defensive to a full challenge on Cooper for third. The challenge proved a little over zealous however, causing Ward to get all out of shape - which was taken full advantage of by Eastwell who passed him for 4th place.
Higginbottom’s green lap demise should have made for an easy run for rival David Cobbold for class B honours, sadly his Van Diemen suffered similar issues early in the race, causing him to also retire.
Fisher had no intention of wasting the advantage he had gained and drove a perfect race to take the win. Moyers was unable to close the gap, but had also lost no ground to Cooper who must have been delighted with third having been so under the weather in the run up to the meeting. Michael Eastwell’s composed drive was rewarded with 4th, getting the better of his much more experienced teammate Nathan Ward. Richard Morris took the class B win comfortably from Paul Barnes, equally as comfortable was Jack Clayton’s class C win.
The all-important fastest lap was achieved by Josh Fisher meaning he goes into the next round with a 2 point lead in the championship over Michael Moyers. No shows for Roger Orgee and Rob Hall at this round was to Archie Hine’s advantage, his consistent form rewarding him with third spot in the table, although a gargantuan 33 points adrift of Moyers. As we enter into the second half of the season, thoughts will start to turn to the effect of the dropped score for all those with full attendance records. That applies to both contenders in what looks to be a two horse race this year, and if the first half of the season is anything to go buy, the calculators will have to come out and just a single fastest lap point could decide the overall champion!Posted by Neil Thomas on Thursday 20 July 2017