Tag Archives: Castle Combe

Double rescue at Castle Combe

The last time Caterham were at Castle Combe was in 2015 and I was racing in the Tracksport Championship. It coincided with the height of my car problems I suffered from at the time and I have some fairly poor memories of two races where all I could do was hang on to top 10 places.

Castle Combe is also a track where the event team run things their own way and very differently from all the other tracks we visit. Frankly, their communication on testing and track day organisation was downright poor this year, not helped by very difficult conditions out on track and drivers failing to keep away from the famously unforgiving Castle Doom barriers.

Thankfully, the race weekend organisation was faultless and all the frustrations of testing melted away once the real action got under way.

I got a good lap in early in qualification but never bettered it and it was only good enough for 4th on the grid. The correct end of the grid but the first time I’ve been off the front row since the opening round of the year. More frustratingly, looking back at the data, I gave up my first flying lap of th session and that could well have been good enough for a higher spot. My DPR Motorsport team mates, and championship rivals, were first and second on the grid so there was everything to play for.

Whilst the rain did threaten before the start of race 1, it never materialised fully. I got a brilliant initial start, but in the excitement of thinking I was going to come out of turn 1 in the lead, I managed to do the dreaded 2nd-5th gear change once more. It seems I can’t do a race weekend without at least one of these mistakes and it’s becoming increasingly irksome.

So, I ended in 4th through the first lap. I felt strong, like I could make up spaces. However, an over exuberant throttle application down at tower on lap two saw me slide wide and onto the damp grass. The dirt on the tyres then meant I locked up and wasn’t able to make the next corner.

A bouncy trip across the grass dropped me down to 12th in the queue. Memories of 2015 came flooding back! However, my DPR Motorsport car this year is top notch and I immediately got my head down and started to make up spaces.

The 30 minute race went by in a bit of a blur and I slowly clawed my way back up through the field. A small gap had appeared to get back to the top 6 and it took several laps to make up the distance. Was there enough time left to get back through the front of the field? JUST was the answer. Although Gordon Sawyer had a gap out in the lead, some exciting dicing with Christian Szaruta and Tom Grensinger eventually bagged me 2nd place in the race to the flag.

The fight for 2nd with Tom was extremely tight but ultimately very fair and all the more fun for that fact. Tom has jumped straight from Academy to 310R and he raced like someone with far more experience.

Whilst closing the gap to the lead group, I also set the fastest lap of the race, bagging the additional point and dropping the advantage of Gordon’s win to just a single point.

It was a great result from what could have been a championship changer after the mistake early on and it’s a result I am proud of.

Sunday was always forecast to be a wet race and it delivered on that promise. Initially, I felt strong in the soaking conditions and held onto 2nd place for a couple of laps. However, I was never able to maximise my braking and I lost a spaces, initially to Christian Szaruta and, after a mistake which dropped me back from the lead battle, I also lost out to Nathan Bell.

A safety car intervention brought everything back together but even that stroke of luck wasn’t able to move me forward. I was relatively safe from the attack from behind, so it looked like 4th would be the end result.

However, incidents with cars ending in the barrier caused yellow flags and eventually the chequered flag was thrown 5 minutes early, crucially, just after Christian had spun at the second chicane and fallen back behind.

A very sad / sore end to his race was a gift of a podium for me. A lucky result indeed but one that also means the championship battle is ridiculously close going into the final 2 events of the year.

Just two point separate the top 3 positions in the championship.

Next up is Thruxton, a track that is famously fast. It only has 2 braking points and will be the ultimate game of chess as the tow will play an incredible part in the racing.

The season is getting closer to its conclusion and it’s building very nicely to a climax. It really is anyone’s to win at the moment and you can be sure that it will be as hard fought as ever for the podium spots.

Castle Combe is Coming

It’s just over a week to go until the next Caterham Motorsport weekend. Taking place at Castle Combe, Wiltshire on 11th / 12th August.

  • Quali: Sat 11th Aug: 0925
  • Race 1: Sat 11th Aug: 1430
  • Race 2: Sun 12th Aug: 0940

Live Timing: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/183232

Castle Combe always has a great crowd and the circuit commentary is top notch if you fancy coming along. If you do, feel free to come and say hello in the DPR Motorsport awning.

Out of puff at Combe

I came into two days testing at Castle Combe really hopeful that my car problems were resolved by a engine timing correction made at the Caterham factory. Sadly though, by Friday evening, I pretty much knew the weekend was going to be an exercise in damage limitation.

Qualifying flattered to deceive, with a 5th place after a last ditch tow fest lap and I was happy enough with the effort.

In race 1, I made another poor start and an overly cautious Quarry saw me drop to around 8th. Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better from then on. I was a sitting duck on the straights with a lack of grunt coming from the engine, Without a full tow from the car in front, I wasn’t able to keep up in a straight line.

Some early defensive driving kept me on the tail of the front pack – and there I stayed for the rest of the 30 minute race. I did briefly pass a few cars but it wasn’t to last.

A bit of back-packer luck on the last lap saw me take 9th over the line.

I did do a rain dance over night but the weather was pristine come race time. So, it was going to be another long race attempting to keep up with the lead group and holding off the second pack.

One big moment going through Camp corner caught my attention late on in the race and I was gunning for Richard Ainscough at the end of the race until I had to drop back a little whilst overtaking some back markers.

Another 9th place finish.

I would say I got the most I could out of myself and the car. I feel that Castle Combe might suit my style so it’s a shame things weren’t fully resolved with the car. However, two top 10’s and there’s still just under half the season left to go.

A quick mention to the crowds at the circuit! It was brilliant to see so many people on the banks watching the races. I hope the Caterham brigade put on a good show for them all. The excellent circuit comms were also a real bonus and added so much to the atmosphere.

A HUGE shout out to the Caterham support team over the weekend. They had everything thrown at them and the managed to get everyone back out on track and competing.

Finally – thanks as ever to all my friends and family for turning up to support me. There were loads of you this weekend!! Sorry the results weren’t properly there. We’ll get it sorted in the end.

Caterham’s Return to Castle Combe

Next weekend, 18th / 19th July, sees rounds 7 and 8 of the Caterham Tracksport Championship at Castle Combe.

This will be the halfway point of the season, around a fast, old school circuit. It’s been a number of years since Caterham’s were last at Combe and everyone I speak to says that Combe promotes great, close races.

Schedule

Qualification – Sat, 18th July – 12:15 – 12:35
Race 1 – Sat, 18th July – 17:25 – 17:55
Race 2 – Sun, 19th July – 13:40 – 14:10

Live Timing

You’ll be able to follow Live Timing over the weekend here: http://www.tsl-timing.com/event/152931

I’ve got a lot of friends and family heading over for the fun and games. Fingers crossed for a good weekend!