After a season of unstoppable Prebble domination, The Big Race Weekend provided one of the most dramatic days of Castle Combe Saloons Championship action in recent memory. Adam Prebble (Vauxhall Astra) would capitalise on brother Gary (Seat Leon Cupra) failing to qualify in the top twenty after qualifying dramas, but then would be beset by his own, ultimately day-ending, issues.
Ahead of the start of the first race, a broken crankshaft would end Prebble A’s day and enable Gary the opportunity to assert himself at the top of the points table. However, further Prebble malaise was to follow at the start of the opening race when an electric start for the sole remaining Prebble led to spectacular contact with Rob Ballard (VW Scirocco) on the run through Avon Rise. The dramatic incident would take Ballard out of the race and leave Gary with a ten second penalty for causing the incident. All of this stymied his progress to eleventh in the final classification.
So what of the fight for victory? With all the Prebble drama, Simon Thornton-Norris (Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart) provided a demonstration of why he is a two-time series champion with a confident three-second lights-to-flag victory. Alex Kite (Audi TT) was attacked successfully by Robert Ellick (VW Golf) on the opening tour, but a brave lunge into Camp to reclaim second position was successful at the end of the lap. However, Ellick then retook the position on the run to Camp a mere lap later. After further dicing Kite and Ellick would settle into the second/third order they finished in.
Neil Greenland (Mitsubishi Colt) ran in the top five early on, but his race would end with a spectacular grassy excursion on the Dean Straight which would destroy a barrier and end the race after just eight laps.
With Thornton-Norris and Kite respectively tying up Class B and Class A, Matthew Parr (Peugeot 106 GTi) and Adrian Slade (Peugeot 106 GTi) flew the flag for Class C in their diminutive Peugeot 106 GTis. Mere seconds separated the flying French hot-hatches when the red flags curtailed the race early. Mark Wyatt (Vauxhall Astra) followed closely behind.
Michael Good (Vauxhall Corsa) was a clear Class D winner, with Nick Mizen (Ford Fiesta) a not-inconsiderable distance further behind. Ray Ferguson (MG ZR) was sandwiched between this dice in eighteenth.
Gary Prebble would start from thirtieth and last for the second Saloons race, but provided one of the best drives of his long and illustrious Combe career to emerge as a delighted victor of the final Saloons race on The Big Race Weekend. At one-third race distance he had climbed through to fifth and sat within seven-point-three-seconds of the race-leading Simon Thornton-Norris. He would be second by lap ten.
In-part this performance was the result of freshly-bedded-in brakes on the front of Prebble’s Seat Leon, and further radical changes after his qualifying difficulties. Whether Thornton-Norris could have maintained his race-lead in normal circumstances is an interesting question to ponder, but as events transpired his own drive-by-wire issues would delay him and the charging Prebble needed no second-invitation to sweep into the race-lead within three laps of the chequered flag. Thornton-Norris was still a safe Class B winner in the runner’s up spot.
Ellick scored his second podium after one of his strongest race-weekend performances in 2019. Parr and Slade once again topped Class C in fourth and fifth. Another notable top ten performance came from Tony Dolley (Seat Leon) who managed to finish seventh as his own Seat Leon showed signs of improved pace and reliability throughout the incredibly hot event. James Keepin (MG ZR), Martin Chivers (Rover MGZR) and James Blake (MG ZR) ran twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth and provided some good intra-MG dicing for the crowded spectator banks. Kite finished just behind this triplet after a difficult second race, and Michael Good once again scored the gold medal in Class D.
The Castle Combe Racing Club Championships (CCRC) now continue next month with Combe Countdown Race Day on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26th.Posted on Thursday 11 July 2019