This was the opening round in the 2015 SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship. The circuit had been resurfaced over much of its length over the winter, added to which a solar farm had been built in the centre (which made course control’s task of viewing the far side of the circuit more difficult than hitherto). This was to be rather different in the way that the event was organized. The primary differences would consist of the marshalling structure, by having “observers” stationed around the track and control of competitors would be achieved by the use of the circuit’s red lights, in the same way these are used in a race environment, rather than the red flags more customarily used in a Sprint context. This would be combined with a fast response vehicle containing all the necessary equipment usually housed on a marshal’s post. It is a system that can only be employed in certain environments, of which Castle Combe is a perfect example, and the new system seemed to work remarkably well, saving the number of marshals required to operate it compared with the usual structure. It might be possible to use this system at other race circuits.
Unusually there was only one unlimited class car entered, that of 2014’s top pair of Colin and Heather Calder. Terry Holmes and Graham Porrett had an as yet incomplete engine rebuild, Mike Musson had a variety of work still to be achieved and Peter Howgate had work still to accomplish with an on board starter motor. The 2 litre class had the usual contestants of Mark Smith, paired with Craig Sampson; Steve Broughton, paired with Matt Hillam; Tony Jarvis, paired with Martin Webb and Steve Miles, the only sole runner. Bill Gouldthorpe was again paired with Carole Torkington in the 1600s, joined on this occasion by “local” (he only lives just down the road) Chris Bennett, this time having an outing in his FF1600 Van Diemen. In the 1100s we had Richard Arrowsmith in his Force, newcomer Bradley Hobday moving on from winning the ASWMC Sprint Championship, replete with re-engined Jedi (now a K8 GSXR, rather than the K2 the car had in 2014) which had had its chassis set up by John Corbyn over the winter and these two were joined by another pair of Jedis, in the form of a returning Martin Pickles and Northern Irishman Nick Houston (now nestled in the Cotswolds). The Sports Libre fraternity was headed by Matt Carter, in one of his later outings in the Radical, before moving on to something else (!), and an opening outing for the brand new 2WD Audi R8 based “SBR” (which arrived in the biggest transporter in the whole paddock!) a car in carbon fibre throughout its chassis and bodywork, with brand new suspension (unlike the production based versions that its TT predecessor had) – the whole car built by John Hansell.
Over the course of the day there were the rather inevitable problems. The Calder family suffered with a rear rocker breakage which gave Heather a rather “interesting” journey, new parts have arrived from Gould and have been fitted in preparation for Round 2! This meant that the Smith/Sampson partnership finished one/two after the timed runs, with Steve Broughton on Craig Sampson’s tail, and Bradley Hobday not far adrift. Steve Miles and Matt Carter were very closely matched, after timed runs, with Tony Jarvis closely pursuing them after his single completed timed run (his second run was incomplete after struggling with handling issues, after shock absorber settings were changed over the winter) and Heather was close by, although that would be the last run of the Calder pairing. Broughton’s co-driver Matt Hillam was a couple of seconds further adrift (having failed on Timed Run One) with Pickles, Gouldthorpe and Martin Webb within a few seconds
So we were left with a Top 12 Run Off which contained 3 Jedis (it’s been nearly 10 years since there was last 3 1100s in the Top 12) plus Matt Carter, Bill Gouldthorpe and the other runners all 2000s. The Hillam/Broughton Dallara had left rear wheel problems. A spin for Matt on his first run caused by a loose wheel nut was thought to have bent a stub axle so the team withdrew only to find back at the factory that the problem was with the studs working loose. Nick Houston (puzzled that he was even able to make the Top 12) finished 10th, Bill Gouldthorpe was a few seconds ahead in 9th just shy of Martin Webb by a couple of tenths. Another second and a half ahead was Martin Pickles, with Tony Jarvis a further 2 and half seconds clear. But a comfortable 6 seconds clear again was Steve Miles, a second and a half adrift of Matt Carter. Then came perhaps the surprise of the day…..the podium finisher was Bradley Hobday over two and half seconds ahead and just two seconds shy of Craig Sampson (in a time just one tenth adrift of Tom Potter’s Jedi 1600 class record….with a “blown” GSXR)! His two runs both being sub-record times earning himself a pair of bonus points. Mark Smith was comfortably clear of his co-driver.
|1||Mark Smith||2.0 SBD Reynard DB Mk 1||117.44|
|2||Craig Sampson||2.0 SBD Reynard DB Mk 1||120.08|
|3||Bradley Hobday||1.0 Jedi Mk 4||122.08|
|4||Matt Carter||1.4 Radical PR6||124.62|
|5||Steve Miles||2.0 Van Diemen-SBD||126.02|
|6||Tony Jarvis||2.0 Dallara F399/00||132.27|
|7||Martin Pickles||1.0 Jedi Mk 1||134.86|
|8||Martin Webb||2.0 Dallara F399/00||136.09|
|9||Bill Gouldthorpe||1.6 OMS CF08||136.20|
|10||Nick Houston||1.0 Jedi Mk 2||140.56|
|DNF||Matt Hillam||2.0 SBD Dallara F3RB1|
|DNS||Steve Broughton||2.0 SBD Dallara F3RB1|