The opening round of the SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship at Castle Combe was run in bright spring weather. Despite the sunshine it was at times bitterly cold. On track Colin Calder finally laid to rest the demons that have meant zero points from two previous visits to the track. However there was a hiccup when the dashboard on the Gould stopped working leaving the Calders to drive ‘blind’.
After the solitary practice run proceedings got underway prior to the lunch break. By now the track was dry and records started to tumble. Martyn Davies fought back to claim the 1400 Roadgoing class after Phil Tucker (Suzuki) led after the first run. Hugh Trotman took his customary win in the 2 litre split and Anthony Wright led the 2600 split throughout. Stephen Moore was top dog in the over 2600 class before we moved to the kit Cars. Classes B1 and B2 were combined and Bob Bellerby took revenge on Mike Smith for the latter’s victory last October.
Into the Modified classes with C1 going to a dominant Gavin Neate. Alison Lock ended up a solo runner in C2 after both Tony Phillips (Nova) and Neville Breach (Avenger Tiger) both broke down on their first runs. In C3 and C4 combined Keith Murray just took the win despite a mechanical problem slowed the Audi on his second run with Ian Parr in a Sylva RIOT taking second. These two finished 14 seconds clear of the rest! In the single Sports Libre class Jim Belt just held off the rampaging Aussie Matt Carter.
Into the Racing Car classes and it was Bradley Hobday who took the win even though his second run was first baulked and on the re-run the Jedi cried enough. Richard Arrowsmith finished second with Nick and Chris Houston next up. In the 1600 class Simon Clemow took the class win and would have qualified for the run-off if he had bothered to register! Bill Gouldthorpe and co-driver Carole Torkington were second and third. The two litre class was a real battle. Mark Smith emerged victorious with Scott Pillinger second in the home-brewed DSP. Steve Broughton, Craig Sampson, Steve Miles and Matt Hillam followed them home in an SBD convoy. In the Over 2 litre class the Calders dominated. Colin led home Heather whilst Terry Holmes grabbed third after a first run fail. Graham Porrett was fourth ahead of Terry Graves and Peter Howgate. Mike Musson trailed home seventh due to a massive lock up entering Bobbies on his second run left him with nowhere to go but up the escape road.
TOP 12 Run-Off
Tony Jarvis led the way but there was a problem. A broken throttle cable meant that the Dallara failed to make the finish. Matt Hillam was next to the line and he put in a banker some 1.2 seconds shy of his Q-time. Steve Miles then seemed to struggle off the line but it was the trick launch system. As usual Inspector Gadget brought his A-game to the run-off. He hammered round nearly three seconds quicker than in qualifying. Terry Graves brought the Gould forward. Having been hampered by having to use those ‘hillclimb ratios’ he would take just the one run but it was an improvement of over a second and a half compared to his Q-time. Craig Sampson then brought Smitty’s Reynard forward. He was rapidly into his stride and through Camp he was so quick. All round the track the youngster pushed hard and as he crossed the line he had clipped nearly four seconds off his Q-time.
Heather Calder was next and there was an air of anticipation that this could be something special. Her start wasn’t the best but at the split she was easily the fastest so far. The flying lap was stunning and as she crossed the line the clocks indicated it was a new FTD. Following that was Graham Porrett, off the line the garagiste was electrifying posting a 2.48 – the fastest so far. However by the split he was down to second and despite clipping close to three seconds off his Q-time he was over 4 seconds behind Heather Calder.
Steve Broughton then brought Matt Hillam’s Dallara forward. I thought Graham Porrett had nailed the start but Broughton put him and everyone else in the shade with a stunning 2.24 first 64 foot. Then it all slipped away as by the end he was exactly one second slower than in qualifying. Next was another SBD engined racer, Scott Pillinger in the DSP. He like Hillam and Broughton was slower, was this a tactic to put in a banker run? Mark Smith was next and the top two litre man from 2013 didn’t disappoint. 2.28 launch and by the split he was he was snapping at Heather Calder’s heels. He was mighty through Camp and he braked late for quarry but his efforts still left him over two seconds adrift – just a lack of pure grunt was the problem.
Next should have been Terry Holmes but he was missing from the pit lane. After Graham’s run the pair noticed that there was a slight delamination of the rear wing elements from the end plate on the right hand side. As Graham was ‘hot gluing’ the wing Terry was rooting round in their trailer for some wing stays. The CoC duly gave them the two minute grace period and despite the best efforts of Terry, Graham and Peter Howgate the car couldn’t be readied in time so Holmes missed his first run. This just left Colin Calder to run. The Scot was calmness personified. A 2.31 launch set him on his way and the run to the split was stunning as he was 1.59 up on daughter Heather! Through Camp he was slow to get on the power but still sparked all the way from Folly to Quarry! As he blasted through the finish he had just set another FTD with just 1.36 seconds in hand.
Tony Jarvis and Martin Webb had replaced the throttle cable which enabled Tony to take his second run. Conscious of needing to get a time to get at least a point he took it easy and slotted into 11th. Matt Hillam picked up the pace and improved his time but would remain in 10th. Mr Mole was back on the start line and again the gruff sounding Duratec hauled him away. However as the temperature started to fall he couldn’t match his earlier pace but sixth was good considering he only qualified 10th. With no Terry Graves it was Craig Sampson next up. Once again the youngster performed even better than before clipping another two seconds plus of his time and moved up to fourth.
Heather Calder now moved to the line, could she move into the lead? Off the line and she was 0.17 quicker to 64 foot. Down to Quarry and all the way to the exit of Bobbies the engine was singing. Through the split and she was over a second faster than her first run but just behind Colin’s time. The flying lap was another stunner falling just short of the Outright Circuit record! As she crossed the line Heather went into the lead by a full second. The now repaired Lola-Judd was next with Graham Porrett at the wheel. However with the repair ever in his mind it was more a test run to make sure everything held together. It did but with no improvement he had to wait to see what others did. Steve Broughton then clipped over two seconds off his first run time to move up the order before Scott Pillinger took to the track. Pillinger’s run to the split was three tenths quicker but he slowed on the flying lap and dropped back down the order as a result. Mark Smith was again on fine form and clipped a few more tenths off his Run 1 time.
Penultimate runner Terry Holmes was then called forward. Having missed the first run it was all or nothing now. Off the line he posted a 2.30, the fastest launch for an over two litre. Down to Quarry and round to Bobbies he was two seconds up on his Q-time split. Through Camp he was mighty but as he headed out of Old Paddock Bend the car staggered and started to misfire. He ground to a halt midway through Bobbies. As he climbed out of the car smoke was seen coming from the cockpit. The battery had shorted out and the car was now in the middle of the track stuck in gear. With no time Holmes was out of the points. After a short delay whilst the Lola and Holmes were brought back to the Paddock Colin Calder was called forward for the last run of the day. The long wait and the falling temperatures were reflected in a slower launch (2.43) and at the split he was over a second quicker than on his first Top 12 run. Out of Camp he was sparking well before Folly, all the way up Avon Rise and into Quarry! As he charged through Bobbies and headed for the line it looked close. The time to beat was 112.75 and Colin stopped the clocks at 112.61 – now that was too close!
Rd 1 SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship
1. Colin Calder (3.3 Gould-NME GR55 V8) 112.61s – Outright Course Record
2. Heather Calder (3.3 Gould-NME GR55 V8) 112.75s – New Ladies Record
3. Mark Smith (2.0 Reynard-Duratec/SBD 903) 116.27s
4. Craig Sampson (2.0 Reynard-Duratec/SBD 903) 117.90s
5. Graham Porrett (3.5 Lola-Judd ERH) 119.37s
6. Steve Miles (2.0 Van Diemen-Duratec/SBD RF96/MM13) 122.47s
7. Steve Broughton (2.0 Dallara-Vauxhall/SBD F3RB01) 122.78s
8. Terry Graves (3.5 Gould-Cosworth HB GR55B) 123.27s
9. Scott Pillinger (1.3t DSP-Suzuki/SBD) 123.28s
10. Matt Hillam (2.0 Dallara-Vauxhall/SBD F3RB01) 127.70s
11. Tony Jarvis (2.0 Dallara-Vauxhall/Connaught F399/00) 134.98s
12. Terry Holmes (3.5 Lola-Judd ERH) Failed Run
Last minute non-starter Mike Manning had problems with the Ford Puma when he came to re-install the engine. The work done over the winter to the unit meant it needed new engine mounts and he didn’t have the time to manufacture these so had to withdraw.
Andy Potter, Martin Pickles and Fyrth Crosse were all in attendance and helped various competitors during the early part of the day.
Having a busman’s holiday at Combe were hillclimb commentators Eddie Walder and Lee Corbett. Lee was impressed with the track, this being his first visit, and was threatening to bring his Westfield over for a trackday!
Warm hats were the order of the day plus copious mugs of hot beverages. Several drivers were suffering first thing after a celebratory evening with the phrase ‘Never again’ oft heard over the sound of engines warming up.
New car syndrome was on show. Graeme Harden now has the ex-Platt/Graham Dallara; Chris Houston was sharing his brother Nick’s Jedi for the first time; Terry Graves was competing for the first time with the ex-Turnbull Gould; and Matt Hillam and Steve Broughton were now in the former’s ‘lightweight’ Dallara, the car having shed approximately nine coats of paint!