Our penultimate race meeting of 2020 at Castle Combe proved a popular replacement for the CSCC’s postponed Le Mans event. Over 200 entries packed into the fast Wiltshire venue, on the last day of summertime, though the weather certainly had a distinctively autumnal feel.
The Mintex Classic K Series endured a damp qualifying, producing a front row of V8’s with the second taken by a brace of Mini Cooper’s, but it was from the third row that the race winner emerged. Paul Tooms in his Lotus Elan instantly scythed between the Mini’s on the row ahead of him as the red lights were extinguished, then past the V8 TVR of pole man Nathan Dodd and Mustang of Russell Humphrey as they struggled to put down all that grunt onto the soaking wet track.
Tooms was pressured throughout, first by the Humphrey/Jeremy Cooke Shelby Mustang GT350 until the pit stops, then Jamie Boot in his TVR Griffith took up the chase for the final 9 laps, but Tooms held on to take the win by 2.7 seconds. A great result having survived a 360 spin at Avon Rise in qualifying, earning a round of applause from the Marshals!
Paul Tooms svelte Lotus Elan overcame the V8's in Mintex Classic K. Two non-championship rounds for the JEC Jaguar Saloon & GT Championship, alongside the Verum Builders Open Series, brought together the usual eclectic mix, with the Jaguars starting first on the lights and the Open Series cars following ten seconds later on the drop of the flag. Tom Robinson (XJR) took the race first Jaguar race from Michael Holt (XJ6).
In worsening conditions, race two saw a lengthy safety car period after Derek Pearce (XK8) pitched sideways on standing water into Lawrence Coppock (XJS) as they raced down the pit straight at the end of the opening lap, the pair sliding to a halt by pit exit. At the re-start Tom Robinson lead the JEC pack with Michael Holt again in pursuit, but coming into Camp next time around Holt slid wide onto the grass and into the foam barriers, allowing Tom Robinson to take a second victory with Holt a delayed second.
Part one of the Open Series element was won by Alex Taylor in the Mazda RX-7, meaning he should have started the second part from pole. However, mechanical gremlins in the preceding Advantage Motorsport Future Classic race meant the pole position slot would be vacant, so all alone on the front row of the Open Series contingent for part 2 was Jamie Sturges in his Seat Leon TCR. On the drop of the soaking wet, bedraggled Union Flag, it was the BMW M3 GT4 of Kevin Bird from fourth that rocketed into the lead, Sturges giving chase into Quarry.
On lap two, Sturges dived down the inside of the BMW into The Esses, just before the Safety Car boards and yellow flags were displayed following the Pearce/Coppock accident on the start line. Once restarted, Bird got the jump on Sturges again through Avon Rise into Quarry, but Sturges repeated his earlier move down into The Esses next time around, going on to take the Open Series race ahead of Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird/Kevin Bird and Dominic Malone in the BMW M3 WTCC.
Jamie Sturges had to pass Kevin Bird twice to take Verum Builders Open Series victory. In between the Open Series encounters was the combined Advantage Motorsport Future Classics and Cartek Motorsport Modern Classic Series race. It produced an eclectic grid of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Sports, Saloon & GT cars, and in qualifying Alex Taylor in the RX-7 and Aston/Tony Blake in their TVR Tuscan exchanged fastest laps throughout. At the start of the wet race eyes were on Mark Chilton’s Nissan Skyline GTR, but the 4wd Godzilla unexpectedly bogged down, causing a chain reaction further down the pack.
Alex Taylor converted his pole into an early race lead, but the crowd at Quarry were denied the chance to see what the Mazda could do when Taylor’s car developed a diff issue, retiring on lap nine. Despite a change from their rapid Porsche 911, the Blakes’ showed they could win Modern Classics in their new-to-them Tuscan racer, with Future Classics 1980’s honours taken by Castle Combe stalwart Perry Waddams. In the 1970’s race there was a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus 1-2, with Martyn/Matthew Ellis ahead of Geoff Beale. You can read John Bakers account of the race here: https://www.classicsportscarclub.co.uk/post/modern-classics-future-classics-thrill-at-combe
The Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens race was sadly cut short after a red flag. Ben Simonds took an early lead, as Tim Davis bogged down from pole. It was only a temporary setback as by the end of lap 1 Tim Davis was back into second, chasing down Simonds. A great race was developing between the pair, nose-to-tail throughout the early laps.
The deciding moment occurred on lap 7 when Simonds ran too deep into The Esses, Davis seizing the opportunity to go round the outside on the exit. Two laps latter Tim Bishop slid off into the barriers at Tower following an armful of opposite lock on entry. Time ran out for barrier repairs, so Tim Davis (Caterham C400) took the overall and Group 2 race, with Nick Powell (Caterham Supersport) heading Group 1, once pit lane infringements had shuffled the order.
Nick Powell was the eventual victor of Group 1 in Magnificent Sevens.
A combined Group 1 and Group 2 Adams & Page Swinging Sixties Series race saw a full grid of 1960’s classics, and barely saw a yellow flag, let alone a safety car; remarkable given the worsening conditions and the fading light. There was an all-Mini front row, with a pair of menacing V8’s behind on the second, the latter representing Group 2.
It was from row 2 that our overall and Group 2 victor emerged, Oliver Reuben (TVR Griffith) putting in consistently fast laps to break away, unhampered by the thick spray that enveloped the chasing pack. Although the Joshua Brooks/Matthew Howell Mini picked up a time penalty for a short stop, the pair had enough of a cushion to take third on the road and 1st overall in Group 1. Jamie Keevil (Lotus Elan) finished third, fighting his way back from a disappointing 19th after qualifying. You can read Vicki Cairn's in depth Swinging Sixties report here: https://www.classicsportscarclub.co.uk/post/swinging-sixties-castle-combe
Mini's initially were at the forefront in Swinging Sixties, but the V8's would prevail.
In what nearly became a night race, the Co-ordSport Tin Tops/Motorsports School Turbo Tin Tops duel was spectacular, with another full grid of 42 cars. Jonathan Dee (Honda Integra DC2) took pole for the normally aspirated Tin Tops, with Toby Harris/Lisa Selby the fastest Turbo Series runner in their Ford Fiesta ST in only the second outing for the car.
The chequered flag fell as darkness descended with drama, as first across the line Tom Mensley in his Renault Clio had short-stopped by just 6/10ths of a second during his two-minute compulsory pit stop. This earned him a 30 second penalty and therefore the win by just 0.7 seconds, ahead of 2nd placed Tin Topper Eric Boulton in his new Honda Civic Type R. Thomas Horton (Fiesta ST) gained his first class win (5th overall), whilst John Baker brought his Renault Clio 172 home 3rd in class B, breaking a record breaking run of mechanical DNF’s!
A deserved first Motorsports School Turbo Tin Top Series win went to Robert Hosier in his Seat Leon, chasing down and passing the Peugeot 208 GTi of Carl Chambers in the closing stages. A stalwart of the series since it's inception, Hosier passed Chambers with just 3 laps to go Matthew Pimlott rounded of the Turbo Tin Top podium in third in the Seat Leon Cupra R, While in the RX-8 Trophy, the win went to Simon Evans.
Tom Mensley and Simon Evans took Tin Tops and RX-8 Trophy honours as darkness descended.
The event was live streamed by Castle Combe, you can catch up on the action on the Castle Combe YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FtmeVgamRQ&t=15476s
This arty video compilation captures the atmosphere superbly, thanks to Marc Peters: https://youtu.be/cBPuYQDu2OY
Full results are available on the TSL website: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/204364
As a hint, when you find your series, click on 'PDF book' for a detailed analysis, including the all important pit stop times.
Professional, high resolution photos from the best angles are as always courtesy of CSCC legend, David Stallard, please view and buy his photos now: https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/ClassicSportsCarClubCSCC/CSCC-2020/CSCC-Castle-Combe-24-Oct-20/