Josh Harvey (Honda Civic), on-paper at least, dominated the first Hot Hatch race of The Big Race Weekend, but results on paper rarely tell a full story. As it was, Harvey was challenged by a determined Craig Tomkinson early in this first race, and victory in truth looked to be headed the way of the Vauxhall Nova driver.
The pair traded the race-lead throughout the fifteen lap race, with Tomkinson leading the initial running after getting a better start. Indeed he lead into the last lap but a made an error approaching Tower corner and sailed in to the barriers. Although thankfully unharmed, it handed victory to a shocked Harvey within a handful of corners to the chequered flag.
Tomkinson’s drama would also shuffle the rest of the field, with Sam Stride climbing to second in his own Honda Civic making it a one-two for the iconic Japanese machines. Tony Cooper (Peugeot 106 GTi) rounded out the rostrum finishers as Class B winner.
Sam Tompkins (Honda Civic) finished second in Class B and Joe Dorrington (Peugeot 205) rounded out the top five despite being the only driver to be hit with a five-second track-limits penalty. This quintet the only classified finishers on the lead lap after seventeen tours had been completed. Erling Jensen (Mini Cooper S) took Class E with sixth position, with the Mini becoming an ever more potent force within the Hot Hatch Challenge. Dave Spiller (Mini Cooper S) was his nearest challenger, eighth overall.
In Class D it was Tom Burles whose dependable Rover Metro showed good pace to finish seventeenth.
Race two therefore promised another mighty dice for the Hot Hatch rostrum trophies, and so it proved to be. Harvey this time held on to his lead from the moment the lights extinguished, but Joe Dorrington’s slightly rocky weekend continued as he made a false start and fell from third to tenth. Stride, Cooper and Michael Bowle (Renault Clio) completed the top five, with the latter retiring after only six laps with mechanical dramas. The Clio however showed improving pace throughout the weekend and should be a force at the front of Hot Hatch at the end of 2019.
More early drama came at the Esses with contact between Ray Ferguson (MG ZR) and Chaz Ryles (Honda Civic) forcing both out of the race, Ryles on the spot and Ferguson slightly further round the opening tour before the MG expired at Tower.
Cooper and Tomkins provided most of the initial entertainment in their dispute for Class B honours, a fight that ultimately fell the way of Civic driver Tomkins. Dorrington’s fightback was beset by myriad issues including multiple lurid moments, the first of which came at the Esses on lap three. Lap eleven would prove to be the distance his Peugeot 205 was willing to run to before he was forced out, with Paul Dickinson (Mini Cooper S) leaving the race on the same lap. With the Mini stranded on the run through Avon Rise the race was concluded early after only fourteen laps.
Rob Channing (Peugeot 106 GTi) and Dave Spiller (Mini Cooper S) provided one of the race highlighting battles, with Channing ultimately victorious, seventh, and winning Class C. One position ahead was the ever-consistent Class E winner Erling Jensen.
Of the battle for the race victory, Harvey would be held up by back-markers at the Esses and Tomkinson was able to pull off a spectacular manoeuvre to claim the race lead. Finding greater momentum around the outside of Old Paddock he subsequently switched back to the inside on the run through Hammerdown to take the lead at Tower on lap three.
Harvey would reclaim the lead with greater pace through Avon Rise and steal the high-ground at Quarry on lap nine but three laps later and Tomkinson managed a faster exit from Camp and reclaimed the race-lead from Harvey on the pit-straight, this time decisively. Stride would round out the podium, over thirty seconds away from the squabble at the front. Class D again fell to Tom Burles.
The Castle Combe Racing Club Series/ Championships (CCRC) now continue next month with Combe Countdown Race Day on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26th.Posted on Thursday 11 July 2019