The Cartek Motorsport Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport Future Classics Series combined at Castle Combe. The result, as Modern Classics Series drivers representative John Baker explains, was a great spectacle...
CSCC Cartek Motorsport Modern Classic competitors all anticipated a great race day at Castle Combe. Not only would they be returning to this fast, exhilarating venue for the first time since 2017, we would also be forming a combined grid with our friends in the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics Series, creating an eclectic grid of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s classics.
The long-range weather forecasts had rain scheduled for race day, getting heavier as the afternoon passed by and for once the meteorologists sadly proved to be right. The final day of British summertime certainly had the weather to mark the occasion; grey and dank with rain arriving in time for qualifying and staying put for the remainder of the day.
Despite the conditions, qualifying was a sight to behold, with the range of cars and speeds quite mind blowing at times. The 26 strong field was like watching a re-run of Top Gear, with cars of all shapes and sizes, from a Vauxhall Astra GTE and Lotus Elise’s, to Martin Reynolds mighty Mach 1 Ford Mustang muscle car and a good old Dolly Sprint, with plenty more besides. What a grid!
An eclectic mix of cars took to the track for a damp qualifying session.
Actually, the tricky conditions out on track made the session even more of a spectacle, the drivers right on the limit of adhesion at this unforgiving circuit. Alex Taylor in his Mazda RX-7 was on top form, heading the (virtual!) timesheets with a 1:19:385 lap time. Aston and Tony Blake in their first outing in the TVR Tuscan Challenge were .654 of a second behind, with Mark Chilton in third 5.6 seconds back.
As Future Classics Driver Representative Richard Thurbin remarked, it was one of the most nail biting qualifying sessions of the year, the Pentax Mazda nip and tuck with the TVR throughout the session. With Alex Taylor having strategically switched from Future to Modern Classics it meant Martyn and Matthew Ellis in their Talbot Sunbeam Lotus were 1st, with James and William Dingle in their Porsche 944 S2 2nd.
For the 1980's Future Classics race, Donington victor Mark Chilton in his Nissan Skyline GTR R32 qualified a comfortable first in class and third on the road, John Hammersley and Adam Brown's Vauxhall Astra GTE in second and James Hebditch, in his first outing in the Mk1 VW Golf GTI, a close third.
The race got underway in very greasy conditions. Both Taylor and Tony Blake made good starts from the front row. Mark Chilton seemed to be caught out by lights going out, reacting slower than those around him and bogging down, slowing a column of cars behind him, but he used the Skyline’s 4WD to maintain his position. Combe local Perry Waddams made the best start, but as everyone darted around a stationary Stuart Daburn, he got checked up and had to back off the throttle.
Tony Blake took up the chase of Alex Taylor, with Waddams behind fighting his way into third.
Unfortunately as the mid-field made their way into Folly there was a collision, which sadly caused the retirement of the VW Golf of Hebditch and left Rob Hardy with a crumpled but ‘driveable’ Porsche 944. The safety car was deployed, whilst the hard working marshals recovered the Golf. When it pulled in after three laps, the racing started in earnest, Alex Taylor again beginning to gap the rest of the field, with Tony Blake in pursuit. Behind, Waddams possibly made the overtake of the entire meeting into Quarry, outbraking both Matthew Ellis and Mark Chilton down the inside to take third.
Alex Taylor appeared to be floating over the tricky surface with graceful ease, pulling time on the Blake TVR in second, in conditions reminiscent of the 1981 Spa 24 Hours, when a TWR RX-7 put Mazda on the motorsport map for the very first time. Sadly for Taylor, his result would be different, as he retired from a 24 second lead on lap nine with a broken differential.
Alex Taylor was on course for a dominant victory, till mechanical gremlins intervened.
On the very same lap, Tony Blake came in for the compulsorily two-minute pit stop to hand over to Aston. This allowed our Australian Diet Coke guy Dave Griffin to take over the lead from the Ellis’ Talbot Sunbeam which was leading the Future Classics contingent. The recovering TVR of Daburn was now up to third with the Hammersley Astra in fourth.
The race settled reached the pit stop window and once all were completed the No.71 Blake Tuscan resumed the lead with Dave Griffin in second and Waddams completing the top three in his TVR. The Sunbeam was now holding 4th place, sliding around camp at every opportunity in the hands of Martyn Ellis.
Dave Griffin took second place in the Diet Coke BMW M3.
The race was as intense in the closing laps as it was at the start, as the leaders had back markers to contend with, along with the continuing heavy rain. But nothing apparently fazed the Blake’s. After 23 laps, they came home to take a dominant win by nearly a minute ahead of Griffin, followed by the Future Classics 1980’s race winner Waddams. A warm round of applause to you all for providing an entertaining and exciting spectacle. We now move on to Mallory Park for our final meeting of the year.
Photos courtesy of David Stallard: https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/
A compilation video of the meeting courtesy of Marc Peters: https://youtu.be/cBPuYQDu2OY
Full race results are available on the TSL website: https://www.tsl-timing.com/file/?f=CSCC/2020/204364cmc.pdf