Castle Combe – my first race in the wet, and as the photos show, the heavens opened!
The circuit was new to me therefore qualifying was the first time I had ever driven round it. I had done plenty of homework though, watching videos and reading circuit guides. Having said that nothing can replace actually being in the car and working up to race pace, consequently I only managed to qualify 25th out of 29, 5.5 seconds off pole; not great.
Race 1. The spray at the start was that thick I could literally only see the red high intensity rain light of the car in front! Survival was the order of the day; bring the car back in one piece! Mission accomplished albeit with a spin at Camp Corner (the curve that leads onto the home straight). However, I finished 21st so all was not lost.
Race 2. I started 23rd on the grid, but with some attrition following the first race, there were now only 27 starters. A big crash before the first bend brought out the red flag so we were brought back onto the grid for a second time. I have included a picture of Matt Rowe’s Roadster – or what was left of it! Fortunately he was ok but it was a big impact and brought home the risks involved with motorsport. On the second start I made good progress and managed to overtake a few cars. Several cars spun off in the first lap and so I was making my way up the field. Tim Heron had been knocked off on lap 1 but didn’t take long to come blasting past and disappear into the spray! Shane Mansbridge was another one of those who had come off the circuit at one of the chicanes and the last 3 laps were spent in a great battle fending him off to finally finish 16th. For the first time I was ‘in the points’ gaining 1 extra point over the token 2 that are awarded for finishing a race. Result.
In summary, Race 2 was thoroughly enjoyable and I came away feeling encouraged with the progress. However, Castle Combe is a circuit I do not intend to go back to in a rush. There is virtually no run off despite it being a fast track – the risks are just too high and the safety record is not good as Matt Rowe found out. In addition I realised it is pointless to try and race on a circuit I have never been to. I have therefore decided to withdraw from Rounds 12 & 13 at Thruxton in August but will go to a trackday at Snetterton instead to learn the circuit before the racing in September. In addition I have a trackday booked at Anglesey before the 3 races in July. I’m looking forward to it all!
My sincere gratitude to VR2U Racing teammate Dave Jacobs who, as ever, was a star. He had some last minute spannering to do, disconnecting the anti-roll bar drop links just prior to Race 1 once we realised the track definitely wasn’t going to dry out. (The forecast suggested the rain would stop – yeah, right!). It wasn’t a straight forward job due to the appalling weather and a pre-load on the rear links which made them a bit stubborn to come off. He did it though! He always ensures the car is fuelled up, everything tight and secure and is ready to race. Not to mention he is there should a technical problem occur; if anyone can fix it, Dave can! I greatly appreciate his friendship and support.