When you're in the back of the pack, you can gamble a little bit more.
Well Donington just wasn't meant to be. The day started with snow flurries followed by sunshine, this quickly turned to heavy snow showers. The 'beast from the East' defeated the race meeting. I managed to grab a few shots in the cold conditions. We now look forward to April. Castle Combe being the next meeting looked threatened with torrential rain! Thankfully mother nature didn't strike twice, see below for the full report..
I was hoping to bring you more news from the first race meeting of the year. However the snow put that plan out the window. I still managed to gather some news:
Chippy Wesemael impressed on his Mittell debut. In the testing conditions in the qualifying session at Donington, he produced a stunning lap to claim Pole in his first ever car race! Beating reigning champion Billy Albone by 4 tenths. He is definitely one to watch this year.
Ben Leach had a troubled run before the race meeting. Ben in his newly built Civic EP3 was testing at Brands on the Thursday. Things were going well until he hit trouble with the car. Hoping to fix things, Ben soon realised the race was unlikely to go ahead. The 4Ward boys soon made great use of one of their sponsors Stone Henge Ale
Oulton Park is next up on the 14th April, this will see a number of formulae take part. Once of which is the Clio 182 championship, this will see Patrick Fletcher try to defend his crown for a 3rd title. He will have tough competition with Andrew Tibbs coming back into the championship. The cars are certainly looking smart with a number of new liveries appearing this year. JJR racing have completely changed the colour of their cars..
Castle Combe Race Report:
A soggy bank holiday Monday was the setting for the Formula Vees, Locost and BMW car club at Castle Combe. With the weather thankfully being a lot better than predicted it still caused a delayed start to the days proceedings.
The BMW car club were first to venture out, unfortunately there qualifying session was held under the safety car due to the conditions, this led the grid being drawn from a hat. In what was their first race meeting it was a great turnout of cars. 22 competitors took part in 6 classes. 750 Motor Club regular Lee Deegan ran in a BMW E36 328 claiming two wins from the day. Great fun was had by all in the conditions, next up for them is Silverstone.
Locost had a huge grid as ever of 41 entrants. In tricky conditions it was hard to get a clear lap in qualifying. Reigning champion Ian Allee endured a tough session finishing 13th, in what was a mixed grid a superb pole by Mark Burton. The races were hugely entertaining. A very measured drive from Greg Smith gave him his first Locost win! Ben Powney came through the field to a fine 2nd. Oliver Batten in his newly built SRB racing Locost finished a fine 4th. In the second race a storming start from Tim Penstone-Smith saw him climb from 19th to eventually finishing 3rd! Mark Burton managed to hang on to 1st place even if back markers made it a challenge, this took him to his first win.
The Formula Vee races were incident packed. In a rather wet qualifying session who else but James Harridge claimed pole in the challenging conditions by nearly 2 seconds! Race one saw the top two change places between James Harridge and Ian Jordan.. eventually it was James who came out on top. Phil Waterhouse claimed a podium spot in the first race finishing 9th overall, however in race 2 Phil's race ended upside down at quarry corner, thankfully Phil is fine. The second race saw engine problems for the two front runners from race 1. This gave us a different race winner in Ian Buxton and Andrew Cooper claiming the class B honours.
Driver of the Month - Mark Burton
Congratulations to Mark Burton - Locost Championship. Mark has only recently started racing with the Locost championship having contested two rounds last year. Mark arrived at Combe in his SRB4 with hopes of a dry weekend having contested the last two rounds in the wet, however this wasn't to be! This didn't put Mark off, a fantastic qualifying saw him claim his first pole position and 2nd place for race 2, in what were some of the trickiest conditions and juggling a track with 40 other Locost drivers on isn't an easy feat. Race 1 the start didn't quite go to plan causing Mark to bog down and end up down the pack. Mark never gave up, he carried on lap after lap climbing back up to a creditable 6th place. Race 2 the weather had eased, Combe was no longer resembling a lake. A better start this time Mark was in the front pack, Louis Wall and Mark traded places but he regained 1st place on lap 7 and never looked back until the last lap when back markers caused a scare and the gap closed by 7 tenths! Mark was glad to see the checkered flag. Not bad for a driver who still has the novice cross on the back and only in his 5th Race! Well done again Mark..
Meet the Driver - Nick Garner
This month we interview Nick Garner - (Garner Racing)Clio 182 Driver. The 2017 season saw Nick take his maiden win in the Clio 182 championship, here's what he had to say..
1. When did you start racing and where?
I started racing karts in 1995 in Junior TKM, which at the time was a huge class – I think Jenson Button won the Championship that year! I was pretty successful with a couple of Championships on the bounce in ’99 (Junior), ’00 (Senior) – sadly missed out on the hat-trick in 2001. Then I went to university and racing had to take a back seat – I did another season of Super One in 2007, but quickly realised I wasn’t earning enough money to fund my racing addiction. So racing took a forced break for a few years, until in 2015, on a complete spur of the moment, I bought a 182 and ordered the bits to convert it to a 750mc eligible car…the rest, as they say, is history.
2. Would you consider racing in another formula?
Of course, find me a racing driver that doesn’t have ambitions to develop and stretch themselves. I am however, and always have been, a massive proponent of one make formulas, especially as drivers develop – I think that they allow drivers to focus on getting the best from themselves and those around them. I will probably do a few races in other classes this year – I’ve got the option to drive a Porsche in the 750mc Club Enduro, in the C1 championship…maybe even a Caterham.
3. What’s your most memorable moment in 2017?
Hmmm…So many, I can narrow it down to two!! First was missing out on my first win at Snetterton – we put the car on my first pole position in the Clio’s, 2 tenths ahead of the field, and I led from the lights, fighting with Patch (Patrick Fletcher) and Don (Don De Graff). Don did slip past for one corner, but I wasn’t letting him take this away from me…but three laps after I regained the lead fate intervened…the guys had made a mistake fuelling the car – and coming out of the infield onto the back straight I started to get fuel starvation. First Don and Patch came past, we’d built a big lead so I stayed third until the car starved again at Corrams and the field came through…I limped home in 15th – I was inconsolable – but I knew we were quick. Next round I threw away another win at Croft when I out-braked myself. So third time lucky it was…Brands Hatch I started 7th, and in what has to be one of my best ever starts, I’d managed to get into 2nd by the entry to Druids, the car was rapid in the first 5 laps, I wound in Charlie Turner who led, and in a pass into Paddock that I will always remember, I took the lead, which despite pressure from Charlie (…and plenty from myself) I got myself on the top spot – unforgettable!
4. Sum up your 2017 season in 5 words?
Exciting, frustrating, emotional, competitive, rewarding….and my wife has added a sixth, yes you’ve guessed it…expensive!
5. What are your hopes for 2018?
2018 is a bit of a regroup year – 2017 had massive highs and lows, and we spent more money than we intended! 2018 is about loving racing, trying new things and being a better driver
For the full interview click on the link below. Many thanks for Nick and Garner Racing
Next months Driver of the month is Formula Vee driver Alex Jones.. If you would like to feature get in touch!
Tim Penstone - Smith - Produced a great slipstreaming display at Combe in race 2, he climbed from 19th place to eventually finishing 3rd! In total in the two races Tim made an incredible 28 places.. No wonder he was so chuffed with his 3rd place. Next up for the Locost racer is Brands Hatch in two weeks time.
Ben Rushworth - has been working hard on his car. The car will look completely different to last year and the car has been on a diet losing 12kg of wiring. He will have his work cut out again this season as Alistair Camp is returning to Brands, these two fought out the championship to the last round last year, what will happen this year?
MACAW News - The MACAW boys have been busy since Donington got snowed off. Paul Kaynes entered the Tricolour trophy race at Brands Hatch last weekend. Paul make a great start to the weekend by claiming pole position in his class. In the dull but dry conditions Paul converted pole into two race wins! Congratulations Paul. Can he repeat it at Brands in a couple of weeks time in the Hot Hatch class C?
Photo credit: Joshua Barrett Photography (background), MACAW motorsport (below)