Well what a strange day this was? Thought by many, because of weather conditions, to be too early to start Championship outings. It was scorching! There was rain which held up the Malaysian GP and brought the NASCAR race in California to an early close. What did happen however, like the British Rally Championship and British Historic Rally Championship counting Bulldog Rally, the event did suffer from occurences which hindered the event running its full course. The Rescue & Recovery Units must have, between them, completed countless miles during the day leading to a host of hold-ups. Practice alone took perhaps and hour and a half longer than customary, although Timed Runs went more smoothly but certainly not incident free.
The event itself was 20% oversubscribed and the SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship runners amongst them were far more than in years gone by. Absences consisted of Mike Musson, whose trailer broke in Gloucestershire and he had a 5 hour wait before being shipped back home. One or two folk had not managed to get their entry in before closing! Jonathan Toulmin (in his "T" car Marengo after blowing up the Force's engine during testing - that had also lead to John Payne withdrawing his Combe entry) discovered a damaged drive and was out after practice.
The 1100s were more numerous than for some time. Grahame Harden was back and Combe race driver Martin Pickles acquired a Jedi at the back end of 2011 and came to join the happy throng. They were joined by Andrew Nicholls, a Combe virgin, at this event. Both the first two made mistakes on their second timed run so failed to improve. Nonetheless Harden murdered the existing 1100 Championship Record to celebrate his return, and Pickles too bettered that record with only a handful of outings under his belt in the car. Andrew Nicholls improved steadily during the day but was understandably somewhat adrift of the front two, being less accustomed to Combe's nuances than the other two.
The 1600s saw Bill Gouldthorpe finish fastest contender in the SBD 08 OMS. He was pursued by Simon Clemow who suffered with all sort of issues during the day. His trying day left him a second and three quarters adrift of Gouldthorpe. Their respective co-drivers were some way adrift of the top two, Carole Torkington having only driven the car before at a straight line Brighton and Simon's father Martin also suffering with the temperamental car.
In the 2000s the Pillingers suffered a suspension issue during practice which warranted them leaving the venue briefly to get some welding carried out. Suspension issues also hindered Steve Miles with a breakage during his second Timed Run. Top of the tree however were the SBD pairing, just tenths apart, with both consigning the 2000 mark to the Record Books Mark Smith finishing on top with SBD boss Steve Broughton less than two tenths back. Behind them was Scott Pillinger who, with their car now sporting a "blown" Busa for 2012, performed even better and had managed to head Steve Miles. His father Dave was just behind this pair. Tony Jarvis & Martin Webb were just tenths apart but a little way behind the leading bunch.
In the Unlimiteds Colin & Heather Calder were out in the ex-Algar (and many others) GR55 and this was their first outing in the car and also their first sight of Castle Combe. This was to be a trying day for the pair. Reigning Champion Stewart Robb seemed to be suffering from not his full compliment of cylinders. After inspection of all the plugs it was put down to an engine management issue. Despite that he still managed to better the existing record by nearly a tenth. Behind him the Chichester pairing were both going well. Terry Holmes putting in a storming attempt on his second Timed Run to be only a tad over a second adrift. His co-driver Graham Porrett might have been rather closer had he not conducted a very stylish 360 exiting Camp on his second run. He was closely pursued by Terry Graves who seemed to suffer from being rather undergeared (by perhaps 10mph) and his only other gear in the box was about 10mph more than appropriate. Then came the Calders, Heather heading dad Colin after first runs but missed the entrance to Bobbies second time around and lost her time. This enabled Colin on his second Timed Run to better his daughter's first run time to nab the place. Peter Howgate managed a PB as he slowly gets to grips with the RT37, so driver Brian Woffenden a little way adrift.
Sadly that was that, with the circuit curfew fast approaching, it was only possible to finish the Timed Runs. There was inadequate time left to allow a Top 12 Run Off. This meant that points had to be based upon Timed Run times. It's perhaps unfortunate that the fastest and longest event in the programme is first on the agenda, but that's matter quite beyond our control.
1. Stewart Robb (4.0 Pilbeam - Judd MP88) 112.88 2. Terry Holmes (3.5 Lola Tegra Judd) 114.08 3. Mark Smith (2.0 SBD Reynard - DB Mk01) 116.40 4. Steve Broughton (2.0 SBD Reynard DB Mk01) 116.57 5. Graham Porrett (3.5 Lola Tegra Judd) 119.86 6. Terry Graves (3.5 Gould GR55) 120.03 7. Colin Calder (3.5 Gould GR55) 122.28 8. Scott Pillinger (1.3T DSP SBD) 122.95 9. Heather Calder (3.5 Gould GR55) 123.24 10. Steve Miles (2.0 Van Diemen -SBD Duratec) 123.48 11. Dave Pillinger (1.3T DSP SBD) 124.99 12. Bill Gouldthorpe (1.6 SBD OMS 08) 130.48