We headed off to Castle Combe not knowing how our little 1.6l would perform against a massive grid of 2.0l and 1.8l cars. We were hoping that our many years of sprinting at the circuit would help us a little bit, so tried to focus on our lines and get some good qually times in. I went out first and was running P2 on the timing screens for about 4-5 laps whilst everyone else got to grips with the circuit. I was used to driving it with cold tyres from sprinting, so I think that helped me get focused early on and the car also felt great.
We were lying around 8th when I handed over to Toby and as more powerful cars came up the timesheets. The track was evolving, so people were starting to go quicker and we dropped a couple of places down the timing screen, but then we also started to go quicker as well! Toby managed to pop in a good time and secure 8th on the grid for the race out of 29 cars. We were really pleased with that! There were only 2 cars in our class, so we decided to go for overall position amongst all the big boys.
I lined up on the grid for the race with the sun out – it was dry for a change – on the left hand side at the start. The lights went out and I got a great launch and found myself next to Joe Gatt in his Integra Type R in no time; I kept the throttle down around the outside of Folly and Avon Rise and was up to 5th by the entrance of Quarry. Mark Livens in his Civic Type R had the inside line and we had a run down to the Essess side by side. He just managed to inch in front and take the Esses chicane ahead of me, so I dropped back to 6th and had Jerry Hampshire in his Peugeot 306 and Danny Cassar in his MGZR close behind me. I focused on my lines and tried to pull out a bit of a gap. I managed to fend them both off for a couple of laps until Jerry had a good run on me through Camp and managed to get past by the time we reached Avon Rise, which left the door open for Danny to follow him through. I took a wide line into Quarry and managed to re-take him on the exit. I was back in front of Danny and fought hard to hold 7th position until I came in for the driver change.
I handed over to Toby and we had a smooth change to get back out on track in 4th position. Gatt and Livens had been putting in some fast times behind Toby as they got to grips with the track, so they managed to get past within a few laps, along with Mike Jordan in his Integra Type R who had ended up behind us after taking his previous wins time penalty during his pit stop. We were no match for him as he was 6.5 seconds a lap quicker than us! Our tyres had started to go off as it was so hot and they had been worked hard from the very start of the race, so Toby’s final lap times were about a second down on mine, but we had a bit of breathing space to the car behind so just needed to get to the end of the race.
The chequered flag finally came out and we had finished 1st in Class and 7th Overall. As Toby was a class winner he got to go on the famous winners car at Combe waving to the large crowds around the circuit.
We were chuffed that the car had performed so well, and at our home race too. We had loads of friends and family watching, so hopefully it made the race great for them as well. To top it off I also managed to get fastest lap in class and my race time was quicker than Toby for the third time this year (he is blaming the tyres on this one though!)..
The next round we’ll be at is Donington in September, so a bit of time off to do a few more tweaks to the car.
Thanks for reading,