St Cross Electronics
Monoposto Championship Round 9 Castle Combe. 3 August 2013
Castle Combe is definitely one of a kind. I can't think of anywhere else that is quite so protective of the paddock or which has such idiosyncratic parking. Yet they're always friendly, there's a loyal, enthusisastic and impressively large band of spectators and whilst the location of the assembly area is a bit challenging, the marshalls within it were absolutely brilliant at sorting the cars in order - even in the chaos of a rain storm during assembly. Thanks, CC, it's nice to be back.
The first 3 on the grid all had Oulton woes of different sorts. Robbie Watt's engine problem was apparently less severe than feared and was fixed. He was on pole with a 1.06. Malcolm Scott found some dirty filters in the fuel system and cleaned them out, his misfire was now gone and he was 0.7seconds behind. Tony Bishop's damaged 304 was fixed by pulling out the 398 (you have to have stock), and he was 0.2 behind Malcolm. Russ Giles in fourth was a little further behind, but it came as a surprise to me to find Oulton winner Kevan McLurg more than a second behind Russ. Then I learnt that he had last driven here in 1989, pre-chcianes, so was learning the track in practice.(1989? I didn't know they had junior karting on the full circuit.)
Mat Jordan led the Classics in the trusty TFR RF99, with Dave Gillett second and Jared Wood third. Within the Classics it was good to see Henry Fryer returning, his FR bearing allegiance to circuit-based Wiltshire College Motorsport. With Swansea College running their FR Tatuus, there was some Motorsport Course rivalry.
Before practice I spoke to Mark Smith who was concerned that the speed he'd shown at Donington seemed to have ebbed away. I was about to give him the name of the psychiatrist I'm seeing about my Dallara, but I'm glad I didn't when I watched the races.
Ray Rowan made his seasonal debut in a Dallara F300, qualifying 7th in class due to an engine which was stuttering. "I don't like stuttering" he told me. "In fact, I don't like any of those small Sussex coastal towns." The issue proved straightforward to resolve and the car was running properly for the race.
Nick Catanzaro had repaired his Oulton fire damage but a head gasket gave way and the car was withdrawn before practice.
We have to start as the race was first called. It was then dry. Then it started spattering, the race was immediately declared wet, and cars were heading to and from the assembly area with a mix of slicks and wets as the rain came and went.
As the grid assembled, Russ Giles lost his clutch. As a result, his start was a bit slower than normal which caused a bit of weaving and jockeying. Within this, poor Russ was tagged and the car damaged. Even worse, he ran over the debris which caused further problems. To complete the catstrophe he had a puncture, so pulled off. Another first lap victim was Mat Jordan who speared off into the field on Dean Straight where the corn was ripening nicely. Ripe enough to respond to the flame which came out of his stopped Zetec by catching light, which led to a bit of fire fighting by Mat.
Back in the race, Robbie Watts (on slicks) ended lap one with a 4 second lead ahead of Malcom Scott (wets) with Kevan McLurg (slicks) another couple of seconds behind, Ray Rowan (slicks) another 2 behind Kevan. The first of this four to break up the running order was Kevan who did a quick 360 on lap 3 at the first chicane. This allowed Ray to close up to within a second and a half and it looked as though a close race would ensue. But then he went straight on at the same chicane, which the circuit calls The Esses,, and dropped back; they would finish third and fourth.
The front looked to be tied up by Robbie, but on lap 6 with a 5 second lead he dropped it at the Esses. Malcolm took over and Robbie set off in pursuit. The gap hovered around a second, and it looked nopw as if Malcolm would take maximum points, but on lap 9 of 12 Malcolm changed down a bit early, got on the grass and lost time, allowing Robbie past for the win. "That was a wet and dry race", he said, "2 or 3 corners were nearly dry, 2 or 3 were wet. It was hard work."
Fifth man home was Alastair Bell, (slicks, I think) and an impressive run it was, with no mistakes, just pure consistency of driving, and a Classic win. Congratulations to Lee and Brian Bennett for engineering the car to be so, apparently, user friendly.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to ask Tony Bishop what went wrong on lap 1. His start looked fine, but he came round last and spent the race making up places, which was extremely brave with the spray. 3 places on lap3 was the biggest jump. Tony was the only driver besides Robbie and Malcolm to crack 1.20, so it looks as though he had a lot of work for the reward of fifth in class. Mark Smith was sixth in class, I believe on wets, and looked smooth.
Just ahead of Mark on the road was Henry Fryer. With similar cars,both wet shod, Henry and Tim Tudor inevitably had a good battle. Initially, Tim had the advantage but Henry got ahead on lap 3, and built the lead, helped by a delay Tim suffered on lap8 (a chicane diversion, perhaps?). Dave Gillett, Jared Wood and Lou Watts were next. They gave me their comments.
Dave: "That was hard. I switched the ignition off twice when I was going for the rain light"
Jared: "I finished!!!" . The joy of finishing for Jared was similar to when Vettel gets pole, first, and fastest lap. He had survived!
Lou: "That was slippy. I was on slicks as I thought it would dry, but the back was just greasy. I was chasing Jared, and it was a close race, no damage"
Charles Adrian came in after 4 laps.
Probably the hardest work race there's been this year so far. Though the second race was still to come......
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsoever. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.
Ray Rowan chasing Kevan
White nose made for easy recognition
Jared, Tim and Lou
Tim and Henry had a very close race
"Oh oive got a brand new comboine 'arvester....." (Popular music reference to show we're down with the kids here). Thanks to Dane and Nick Catanzaro for the picture