Castle Comble – DNS… bugger!
We arrived at around tea time on Sunday evening and there was already a few cars there, infact we’d already seen Dave Thompson in the motorway services and he had promised to try and save us some paddock space to set up camp as the paddock in Combe tends to get very crowded.
We parked, set up the gazebo and got the charcoal fires burning in preparation for the evening and sure enough people started to trickle in. Firstly the golfers returned from a hard day thwacking balls around Andy Vowell’s inlaws’ golf pitch and then a couple of the TRs. The evenings most amusing appearance was made by Mik in his newly acquired vehicle carrier, it’s certainly ‘in period’ and looks just the sort of thing that enterprising gypsys might acquire to start up their block paving business with. However, it did get him and his car there (and back) in one piece which is the point after all (although you’d be forgiven for thinking that you need an eight hundred foot motorhome if you glanced around most peoples tow vehicles these days) and at least his exhaust was attached, unlike mine 🙁
A brief bicycle tour of the circuit lead by local boy Andy Vowell did nothing to settle our nerves or quench our thirst so we set about the usual business of drinking beer and talking absolute nonsense regarding car setup, braking points and how we were all going to beat each other and so on. And then to bed…
An early start on Monday was entirely unecessary but I awoke to the sound of someone shouting ‘D’y want a cup of tea Nige?’ and various clatterings so I thought I’d get up and wander around for a while generally trying to busy myself by washing the car and checking the tyre pressures.
One point of note was that the drivers briefing at this race was excellent. I haven’t been to one for a while, but like quite a few others had never raced at Castle Combe. I actually walked away feeling that I knew a little bit more about the circuit and which the best way round was (other than clockwise).
Practise started off uneventfully enough, although I missed a chicane on the first lap AND YOU WOULD BE AMAZED AT HOW MANY CARS FOLLOWED ME DOWN THE SLIP ROAD…
But in general the car seemed ok, not too hot, good oil pressure, vroom, vroom – sort of thing. The only problem was I had a Johnny Yarnell right behind me and I was just getting round to thinking ‘hmm, while he’s there I’m not setting any better times than him and thats, er…’ And that was when the power dropped off dramatically, the big red light came on, the oil gauge stopped gauging oil and a noise like bricks in a twin-tub started penetrating my helmet. All of these things pointed towards a problem with the car (you pick these things up after a couple of years racing) so I pootled around at about 10 miles per hour, or so it felt and pulled off into the pit lane of shame. My day over.
Turns out it was quite a car wrecker. Jon Wolfe had a similar engine problem and his slowing car apparently forced Paul Lucas to take a dive into the armco just after quarry. Dave Thompson did a fancy pirouette into a marshal’s post and bashed up his front suspenson and steering deely. I ‘m not sure what happend to all the other cars as paying attention isn’t one of my strong points but, I believe, a grid of 26 was reduced to 20-21 cars for the race according to paddock rumours.
Mark Hadfield had the class pole, then me and then everyone else (no, sorry I don’t know the actual order, I misplaced my timesheet and besides I know what order they finished the race in, which is the important bit).
I had a few people turning up to watch the race, presumably that’s why the car blew up, so after a quick lunch with them and a bit of comiserating we walked up to quarry to spectate on what was a fantastic afternoons racing. Porsches, Formula Ford, MG’s and Saloons (or as my friend named them – ‘the chav car challenge’) and finally Triumphs.
From a class A point of view Mark and Stacky were barging around like a pair of angry flies, with Mark for the most part having the advantage. On every lap Stacky (by his own admission) took a ‘crap’ line into Quarry which put him alongside Mark, but Mark’s better line saw him pull away with a faster exit speed. In fact, I thought it would finish like that but unfortunately for Mark he managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory through a spin on the last lap and let Stacky take the flag. I’ve done exactly the same thing myself and it’s a gutting feeling, but still he’s proven that Stacky is not unbeatable and there is hope for us all. In third place was John Yarnell who spent most of the race battling with class C newcomer Dave Styles, who was suffering from an unattached exhaust and behind him was Mik. In class C Andy Vowell lost his lead early in the race to Jon Thomasson but regained it when Jon span towards the end of the race and so Andy took a win at his home circuit which he was obviously very pleased about. Dave Thompson managed to repair his steering deely by ‘borrowing’ the one off of my car (well, I wasn’t going to be using it) and seemed to be putting in some respectable laps, as was Steve Adams. Notably, Kev Hadfield had improved on his pace (again) and was literally flying over Avon Rise and generally putting the sporty Triumphs to shame in his Herald Saloon finishing 3rd in class C. And in the invitation class John Davies was providing us all with entertainment by spinning about in his Vitesse estate, but once pointed in a straight line he showed an alarming turn of speed.
I’m now going to stop typing and start worrying about how I’m going to get my car back up and running in time for Rockingham…