Hot Hatch Challenge in association with Pro Alloys - Qualifying - The term hot hatch was coined in the early 1980s with manufacturers releasing their own interpretations ever since, many of which were represented in the very first qualifying session for the new series.
The Peugeot 205GTi was one of the originals, and in race trim an evidently addictive car indeed. Almost immediately after co-driving Mike Harris’ example in the Dave Allan Trophy endurance race last year, Gary Prebble was scouring through the classifieds for his own French pocket rocket; in which he became the series’ first pole sitter. The 205 addiction appears to also be highly contagious with Gary’s brother Adam also joining the owners club! Craig Tomkinson joined Prebble on the front row in his Vauxhall Nova – another early favourite hot hatch, especially among the 80s FastCar/MaxPower magazine generation. Having rectified his flywheel/timing problems which curtailed his earlier saloons qualifying session, Mark Wyatt placed his Astra on P3 alongside the Ford Focus of Mike Webb. The third row was occupied by Mike Harris in his 205 and the Peugeot 106 of saloons campaigner Craig Wright.
As the grid lined up for the inaugural Hot Hatch Challenge Race, the grid sported two empty spaces with Adam Prebble and Craig Wright’s cars not in a fit state to take part.
Miraculously, the Peugeot 205 of Mike Harris which was towed back to the pits ‘sans front wheels’ in the previous GT race, did take its place on the starting grid.
The eclectic mix of vehicles caused for a position swapping yet clean start in the middle of the pack while at the front Prebble maintained the lead ahead of Tomkinson and Wyatt. As the race settled, Wyatt’s trusty Astra built up its momentum sufficiently to take second from Tomkinson and then the lead from Prebble on the third tour of the circuit.
With a clear road up ahead, Mark Wyatt pulled away from Prebble for a comfortable lead – a refreshing role reversal to the usual pattern in the saloon championship. With nothing to contend with other than safe passage of the back markers, the yellow Astra took the chequered flag and class A win with 7 seconds of clear air between himself and Prebble’s Peugeot. With Prebble some 17 seconds ahead, Tomkinson was on the full defensive to hang on to 3rd, his Nova crossing the line just three tenths ahead of Mike Webb’s Ford Focus. The honours for class C was a closely fought affair between Andy Roberts and Izaak Channing, with the former taking the silverware by bringing his Honda home just one tenth of a second ahead of Channing’s Peugeot. Class B was also a two-horse race between two MG ZRs, with James Blake stealing the last place on the winner’s car from Clive Hawkes.
Although not strictly eligible for the series, the organisers permitted Andy Southcott (brother of Chris Southcott) to give his 1960s MG Midget based Lenham special a run out. Andy converted his lowly 16th place start into a 9thplace finish showing the ‘young whipper-snappers’ a thing or two, and also that sharp driving and fast MGs must be something of a family trait!
So a successful running of the first race of the new series, with some close and clean battles, no incidents and a low rate of attrition with just three DNFs (Harris, Dorrington and Atkinson).
Despite some gloomy periods, the clouds produced nothing more than a couple of spits of rain all day, a welcome bonus to the faithful spectators who witnessed an action packed day of Castle Combe’s unique brand of thrilling Motorsport Action.
Roll on the 1st May which has a retro theme as the home championships and Hot Hatch series will be joined by races from the MG Owners Club and the HSCC’s Classic Clubmans and Historic F3 Championships.Posted on Thursday 20 April 2017