Castle Combe Race 5

 

I liked the Castle Combe Circuit as soon as I first drove round it. Like Donington it flows and is fantastic fun to drive. Having practiced there I felt confident and quite excited as we drove down to the circuit, which is lucky as it was a thousand mile trip. Before you get worried and think I went there via France I'll explain...I left Louth and went up to Teesside on the Saturday leaving us all day Sunday to travel down. We left at lunch time and as spare days seem very rare at the moment we went to pick up some bits I'd bought on eBay. The first stop was Lutterworth to pick up a Drivers seat, good plan, we fitted it there and then and the rest of the trip was a lot comfier! Then we headed back across the country to pick up some sides for the awning before a quick stop on the Welsh border to buy a heater. By the time we got to Wales it was 10:30pm and raining hard!

 

Qualifying

 

Overnight the rain didn’t stop! For a prefect lap scuba gear would have probably helped most but for some reason I decided my dry tyres would be the best choice! I must have been hoping for divine intervention - it didn't arrive. I slid slowly round the circuit, lots of cars passed me, most spun straight off. I didn’t find this very inspiring! I wanted to push harder but when I tried I just slid straight on towards tyre walls, concrete walls and other hard looking stuff. I continued to drive like a Learner in a thirty watching chaos unfold around me. Finally Paul Bryant flew past looking like he was on rails and the usual leaders were behind me - brilliant I thought I'll follow them and then be able to gauge optimum speed! We rounded the last corner and I was feeling positive and as we did the chequered flag came in to view! I expected to be last of those who'd managed three laps! I wasn't but I was in thirtieth!

 

 

The race (started 30th finished 23rd)

 

The Race itself was dry and for once I made a good start. For some reason I seemed to catch cars spend a couple of laps behind them and then pass two in one corner. I think it was probably testament to how closely we were racing as I also seemed to loose places in two’s! The racing was frantic but great fun. At one point I found myself heading into the Essess two abreast having almost out braked someone on the way in only to find we were both too stubborn to give way, we did however leave room for each other and as we squeezed through a gap really only one car wide were shocked to discover another Locost mid spin. Somehow all three of us made it out the other side without touching and all heading in the right direction and I even got the place, but I think my life may now be ten mins shorter! :-)

 

By the final lap I was running 23rd. I’d gained seven places most of them two or three times before I could make them stick! For example I’d overtaken Glenn twice and twice he’d returned the favour and overtaken me! Now he was ahead of me in 22nd and I was trying to work out if there was a way I could make a move which would slingshot me past him and the car just ahead netting me two places. I had a decent exit out of the Esses and got on his bumper for Hammerdown I tried a move under breaking for tower but couldn’t make it stick, however I was back an inch from his rear panel as we exited the corner. Normally this would have been a good thing, I could have slip streamed him and maybe got him in to Bobies. Unfortunately it was at this moment that Glenn missed a gear. His car twitched violently and he caught it immediately unfortunately an inch from his bumper and accelerating hard I had no chance of missing him. Instead of overtaking him I attempted to drive over him.

If you are planning on adopting this approach in a race I wouldn’t recommend it.

 

Luckily my ascent stopped half way up his back bumper. Unfortunately his rear towing eye remodelled my radiator and my front wheels adopted a new set up pattern. Amazingly all the pipes in the radiator (which was now imitating a ‘L’ , bent round the towing eye and none broke or leaked) with no warning lights flashing I decided I’d keep going. At this point I assumed I’d still got four wheels on the car and guessed that if I hadn’t I’d find out pretty quickly. As I braked for Bobies the car decelerated (check 1) when I turned the steering wheel the car turned into the corner (check 2) nothing fell off and no weird smoke appeared (it must be ok) although things smelt very odd and the car handled very bizarrely!

 

The whole incident although seemly dramatic at the time only lost us a couple of seconds and neither of us lost any places finishing 22nd and 23rd. All in all it was a great race although I was a bit concerned about the car.

 

In parc ferme my car looked a little sad but a closer inspection (with a lot of help – cheers guys) showed a new radiator, nose cone and bottom ball joint would return it to it’s former glory.