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Chris Southcott

Southcott first to repeat in pacy Pug

With his Peugeot 205’s engine rejuvenated in the four weeks since its Mayday woes, Chris Southcott hurtled back to the front in Whit Monday’s Hot Hatch Challenge race, becoming the first competitor to win for the second time this season. Tim Adams, victorious last time out, pressed Southcott hard, indeed a tad too closely since an inadvertent tap removed the rear bumper from Chris’ car and dislodged the front valance from Tim’s Honda Civic, which subsequently fell off. Adams was black-flagged for contact,  although both protagonists agreed it was a ‘racing incident.’

Class B victor Tony Cooper (Citroen Saxo) was thus promoted to second and Darren Duffield (BMW Mini Cooper S) to a E-winning third, the latter vaulting outstanding newcomer Owen Hillman who was penalised for overtaking under yellows in the Pro-Alloys Cooper S. Shaun Deacon (Peugeot 106 GTi) landed a narrow C win with Rob Channing’s similar car filling his mirrors at the chequer. Antony Weeks (1400cc Saxo) had an easier run in the D set.

Thirty two competitors, the Castle Combe Challenge event’s largest grid, turned out for qualifying. Southcott claimed pole with a 1m13.373s (90.76mph) shot, but Adams was but 0.120s adrift in the Argent Insurance Honda. Class B leader Shaun Goverd (106 GTi) cut 1:14.405 for P3, sharing row two with Joe Dorrington (Civic), with Dave Spiller quickest of the Mini men on 1:16.07 and Cooper next up. Duffield, Hillman - Saloon racer Neil Greenland’s stepson - Channing and Deacon completed the top 10.

The Renault Clio section (within multi-marque F) saw John Barnard on top on 1:18.838s, 11th overall, with rivals Bradley Thurston and Jamie Bigwood within 0.202s!

James Dyer-Bufton (Civic Type R) was the last driver inside 1m20s, but the sextet in the 80 second bracket included Lee Waterman (MG ZR) and Weeks. Further down, Combe Saloon stalwart Julian Ellison was in the mix with his colourful Ford Fiesta 1600S.

There was drama at the starting lights when Goverd’s car failed to get away but everybody missed the stricken Pug which marshals pushed to safety. Adams led initially, harassed by Southcott who found a way past on lap 5 having set fastest lap of 1:13.497. Fast starter Cooper was caught by Dorrington, while Hillman - from eighth - worked his way past Spiller, taking Duffield with him as the three Mini pilots jostled for position.

Up front Adams touched Southcott at Quarry on lap 7, and while both went off Chris maintained the lead as Tim slipped to fourth, behind Cooper - who improved on his Q-time with a fine 1:15.725 - and Dorrington. Adams closed Cooper’s silver Saxo down before he saw the black flag and dutifully pitted. Hillman thus moved into third place  and kept Duffield behind to the chequer, whereupon the promising Owen’s five second penalty reversed their order.

Deacon and Channing finished fifth and sixth, their class tussle going to the wire. Thurston climbed five places to seventh, chased by Watson who made even more ground, advancing from 17th. Hughes, Weeks - who lapped in the 19s - Dyer-Bufton and Clio duo Cory Woolfrey and Jonathan Fish also covered the full 15-lap distance. Barnard set the best Clio time before retiring, as did Quarry spinner Spiller, Bird  - who gyrated through TSLs timing beacon’s protective tyres onto the infield - Bigwood, Julian Fisher (Fiesta) and Dorrington.

Posted on Monday 14 June 2021

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