Whilst Honda may not be having a terribly successful time in Formula 1, the marque’s involvement at the Castle Combe circuit’s Bank Holiday Monday meeting on May 29 could well see it emerge on top.
Swindon based Honda UK has been a supporter of the circuit’s annual ‘Dave Allan Trophy’ endurance race held in memory of the late Swindon based Honda test driver since its inception in 2013. Its works BTCC driver, Matt Neal, has been a regular participant, winning last year in his Honda Jazz.
But hoping to maintain Honda’s record in 2017 is local driver and former Synchro motorsport colleague of Allan, Dan Ludlow, in his Civic Type R. The Swindon man finished second last year, despite running a borrowed road car engine, His great record of racing success in superbly prepared cars must see him as one of the favourites this time.
With any saloon or sports car allowed to take part and a handicapping system in place, Ludlow’s competition is from a number of sources, though two well-known local family teams could be the biggest threat.
Richard and Adam Higgins, Chippenham brothers known for their successful Formula Ford 1600 exploits at Castle Combe, share their Ginetta G55. Their speed is undoubted, but they face the formidable Shepton Mallet father and son pairing of Kevin Bird and Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird in their BMW M3 GT4.
Former Castle Combe GT ace Perry Waddams will continue his quest to win this event with his mighty 6.2 litre TVR Tuscan whilst those with more conventional cars include Bristol’s Oliver Cook, his Megane normally seen in the circuit’s ‘Saloon Car’ championship.
The 45 minute affair gets under way with a rolling start and every car must make a compulsory 2 minute pit stop.
Many of the drivers in the ‘Dave Allan’ race will also be seen elsewhere in the 9 race programme, particularly in the circuit’s ‘Castle Combe GT Championship’.
Blagdon’s Doug Watson wheels out his latest acquisition for both races, a 6.3 litre Ultima GTR, these cars once a popular sight in the GTs but not seen for some years. Last round winner Steve Hall from Gillingham will also be busy in his Audi TT clone, as will Chris Southcott from Curridge, Hants’ who uses his 2.4 litre MG Midget in the GT race and shares a Peugeot 205 in the Dave Allan enduro.
Whilst his sons share the family Ginetta G55 in the Dave Allan race, former quadruple Combe FF1600 champion Bob Higgins will be using it to defend his joint lead in the GT championship. He is equal on points with 3 other drivers, namely, Portishead’s Oliver Bull, the 2015 champion in his Vauxhall Tigra ‘Silhouette‘, Chepstow’s David Hathaway in his Ferrari 360 (also contesting the Dave Allan race) and Southampton’s Michael Timberlake in his BMW M3.
After two rounds of the Castle Combe Formula Ford 1600 championship, a pattern is beginning to emerge. Wellingborough’s Michael Moyers, now with a 4 point lead over Bridgwater’s Josh Fisher, is again the one the others have to beat, his outright pace in the Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum never in doubt.
2016 champion Roger Orgee, from Langford, is the most consistent driver seen in the championship for some years, a podium place now seen as a fixture, despite adapting to a new Ray chassis this year. Robert Hall from Bromyard is another Ray mounted driver capable of winning.
Youngsters beginning to make an impact include ‘KMR’ driver, Michael Eastwell from Awbridge and Marlborough’s Archie Hine, helped by his father, ex Combe FF1600 and F3 driver, Ringo.
Luke Cooper from Yatton Keynell will be looking for his new engine to make the most of his excellent Swift chassis.
Whilst it’s usually Corsham’s Will Di Claudio who maintains a perfect score of wins and fastest laps in the ‘Castle Combe Saloon Car championship’, this year there are only two men who have managed that. Southampton’s Gary Prebble in his SEAT Leon Cupra and Calne’s Simon Norris in his class B Colt Ralliart have both shown exceptional speed in the opening couple of rounds, dominating their respective classes. So a tight battle looks set to continue as the year progresses.
In theory, things should be a little easier for Norris, as Prebble has tougher competition in class A, both in quantity and quality. Calne’s Tony Hutchings will continue to perfect his newly re-shelled Audi TT, Bath’s Dave Scaramanga has the latest technology in the shape of his VW Scirocco, and Bill Brockbank from Stonehouse is back with his powerful Ibiza Cupra.
Di Claudio’s on track dominance in his C class 106 Gti hasn’t quite extended to outright fastest laps this year, both of which have been stolen by Sturminster Newton’s Geoff Ryall, who clearly remains a strong threat. Bristol’s Hadyn King is tentatively close to their pace in his 106 but has yet to score this year.
It’s been a while since class D witnessed such a tight battle for the lead, Alex Kite from Dursley in the Citroen Saxo neck and neck with Mike Good from Brixham in the Corsa.
Whilst Norris’s dominance in class B means Bristol’s Mark Wyatt has to be ‘best of the rest’ in his normally aspirated Astra, he is still ‘cream of the crop’ in the ‘Castle Combe Hot Hatch Challenge’.
Expect the Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi of Southampton’s Gary Prebble to keep him on his toes all the way to the flag though. Craig Tomkinson will be looking for a more patient start this time in his 2 litre Nova. Another 3rd place would be no mean result against Combe specialists Wyatt and Prebble.
There is also a pair of races for the ‘750 Motor Club’ MR2 championship. This allows any of the normally aspirated versions of these rear engined Toyotas to take part. Engine and brake modifications are not permitted, with the only changes to production spec’ being suspension and safety which should make for some evenly matched, close racing with big fields of cars.
The BARC Max 5 championship also has two races. Like the MR2s, the Mazdas must run to more or less ‘showroom’ standard, with only very limited modifications permitted. They have three classes of car, each with a horsepower limit, so again, racing is very close and fair. This will be the third outing for the MX5s this year, so the drivers and cars should be well into their season and fully accustomed to their machinery.
Monday's action starts at 8.30 am with qualifying, racing getting under way from 12.45 pm.
All Honda drivers or members of a Honda club can obtain a car pass for the next meeting for just £10. Head here https://castlecombecircuit.co.uk/race-days/whitsun-race-day/29/5/2017/ to make your advance booking. Normal aAdmission prices are £15 for Adults and £10 for OAPs, whilst accompanied children under 16 are admitted free. ‘Paddock Transfer’ is free if the tickets are purchased in advance.Posted by John Moon on Tuesday 16 May 2017