VISITING drivers made a big impact on the regular runners in the Castle Combe Circuit’s Formula Ford 1600 race at Retro Race Weekend.
Bratton’s Ben Norton, a former double champion, went into the weekend with a view to treating it as a useful test, but ended up with a dream result in the first race on Saturday.
Starting from pole in his Wiltshire College Spectrum 10B, run by the students based at the circuit, Norton got an immediate break and went on to win by more than seven seconds.
His task was made easier by another visiting driver, who slotted into second place early on.
Timsbury’s Oliver White made himself less than popular with the regular contenders, who accused him of weaving and blocking, highlighted by the train of cars queued behind him, most of whom posted faster lap times.
Only reigning champion, Chippenham’s Adam Higgins, was able to find a way through, with White completing the third step of the podium.
Regular drivers Roger Orgee, from Langford, Richard Higgins from Burnham on Sea, Coventry’s Nathan Ward and Ashley Crossey, from Flax Bourton filled the next few places.
The second race on Sunday saw another non-regular driver make an impact.
Rob Hall, the 2011 champion, who has not raced for a couple of years, had gone off on the third lap the previous day but, starting from pole for race two, drove off into the distance until a safety car period bunched the field on lap ten.
With Higgins close behind, Hall slid off at Quarry following the end of the safety car period, ending his race.
Norton meanwhile, had worked his way up from the back of the grid, his car apparently stuck in second gear on the warm-up lap.
Norton was up to fifth prior to the safety car, subsequently taking Ward for fourth and then Melksham’s Ed Moore for third.
By the last corner, Moore had fought back and was in turn challenging Orgee for second Norton touched Moore, whose Van Diemen speared off in the Camp corner barriers.
Higgins led home Orgee and Norton, followed by Ward, Richard Higgins and an off-form Crossey.
Plymouth’s David Cobbold took his 1989 Van Diemen to two dominant class C wins and top ten finishes.
Calne’s Tony Hutchings powered into the lead of the first Castle Combe Saloon Car championship race, only for the boost hose to split after a few hundred yards, giving the lead and the win to Reading’s Russ Akers in the Astra.
With his Audi TT easily repaired, Hutchings repeated his flying start on Sunday, powering ahead of Akers, who was demoted to sixth on the grid after his engine died in qualifying.
Another safety car allowed Akers to jump Hutchings on the restart, the Audi losing boost pressure as they crossed the line, then reappearing a lap later to give Hutchings a new class lap record and secure second place.
Keynsham’s John Barnard took fifth on Saturday but was overjoyed with his third on Sunday, fending off arch-rival Swindon’s Julian Ellison in his almost identical Astra VXR Turbo.
Bath’s Dave Scaramanga posted his best result to date on Saturday with a fourth overall in his borrowed VW Scirocco, his own identical car still not ready.
The class victories for the weekend were shared between Stroud’s Rodney Apperly on Saturday in his ex-championship winning Peugeot 106 Gti and Chard’s Carl Loader on Sunday in his Saxo VTS.
Charles Hyde-Andrews–Bird, from Shepton Mallet, brought his Renault Megane home to third in Saturday’s race, but retired from that place on Sunday with mechanical issues.
Race sponsor Russell Poynter-Brown, from Compton Martin, took the class D win in the first race in his Vauxhall Corsa, with championship leader David Rose from Bristol taking valuable points back with his win on Sunday.
The Sports & GT championship races saw a win for Gary Prebble in his Mitsubishi Evo, which lost boost on Sunday but still took third, Perry Waddams inheriting the win and also taking victory in the 40 minute ‘Future Classics’ race, which also saw Henry Williams from Horton, near Chipping Sodbury, place the ‘Williams Morgan’ ‘Plus 8’ in 13th.
The Classic Sports Car Club’s ‘Swinging 60’s’ 40 minute race was a cracker, with the Mini of father and son Richard and Martin Wager beating all the bigger cars.
Cirencester’s Charles Marriott took a fine fifth overall in his unique Turner, while Radstock’s Ross Whittock retired with a mechanical problem to his Mini from his first ever race, after running strongly to what would have been sixth place.
CASTLE COMBE REPORT & PICTURES IN THIS WEEK'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND WILTSHIRE TIMES