As can tend to happen early round events, particularly this early in the year, can have a tendency to not going according to plan for some competitors. However despite all the winter hiatus concerning ROPS no competitors were faced with any difficulties, on that front, at the event. One competitor, who has battled with the subject for the past year, in a bid to have his passport released, for a car it must be emphasised that has been built totally from scratch, has decided to follow the route of certification involving MIRA (hoping thereby to be able to open his season, MUCH closer to home for him at Croft at Easter). It would seem that the Scrutineers only became troubled with one issue and that was a car that possessed a banned steering wheel (look at Drawing 5.7 on page 155 of your Blue Book, the one with the big cross across it!) An issue ultimately solved by the loan of his spare by a fellow competitor.
Fortunately it was a sunny day throughout, albeit with a biting wind. The whole SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship field were pleased to see the return of Bill Gouldthorpe. Unfortunately car problems in practice lead to a short day for him and co-driver Carole Torkington. Another returnee, also in the 1600cc Racing Car class was Scott Pillinger. However the car never performed properly throughout the day because of an electronic shortcoming. Matt Carter's Radical was making noises from its transmission it was never intended to, meaning that it managed practice and a timed run, but that was it. Also misbehaving at various stages through the day were the electronics of the Chichester pairing of Terry Holmes and Graham Porrett. They stuck with it, and indeed they were out the following day at Rockingham. Perhaps the most worrying incidents impacted upon John Graham. As he approached Avon Rise on his first timed run the upper elements of his rear wing made a bid for freedom. This lead to a big spin as he cross Avon Rise and approached Quarry. Very fortunately he conducted this exercise without touching anything solid. He attempted to undertake his second timed run armed with only the lower element of his rear wing. As he passed the pits at the end of his first lap the right hand half of that element was at an angle of 90 degrees to the left hand element, and for his safety, the organisers decided to switch on the red lights to halt any further progress.
A great deal of time was lost when Jeff Wiltshire's car attempted to perform the impression of a steam railway engine. It appeared that the engine let go approaching the finish line, and an oil slick became laid from Bobbies all the way into the pit lane supplemented by a great deal of smoke. The car continued its path under the Avon Bridge and then set fire to itself. The clean up operation rather put paid to the second Top 12 Run Off Run, although of course the damage to Jeff's car was of far greater concern.
When it came to the second timed runs the SBD Motorsport British Sprint Championship contenders found themselves in something of a quandary. Would their points be based only upon the timed runs, because the amount of time loss would mean no Top 12 Run Off. Would there maybe enough time left at the end toi cater fo maybe just a singular Top 12 Run Off run. Because, as with many race circuits, Castle Combe has a fixed curfew matters really depended on how the remainder of the timed runs took place.
Ultimately the organisers decided that sufficient timed remained for a singular Top 12 Run Off. Matt Carter had qualified, but sadly was unable to run. Terry Holmes time was denied when all four wheels were reported to have departed the black stuff in favour of the green at Bobbies. Steve Broughton, uncharacteristically had an off at Quarry, although it was difficult to identify damage by eye when the car had returned to the paddock under its own steam. Dave Cutcliffe too was unable to post a time. Grahame Harden set a time with which he must have been disappointed, as it was many seconds shy of his best timed run, but at least his first 2017 points were posted. Simon Boulter posted a sensible time on his first ever British Sprint Championship Top 12 Run Off within a few hundredths of his best timed run. Likewise Martin Webb also followed suit with a time just hundredths away from his best timed run. Scott Pillinger improved his timed noticeably from the timed runs to the best 1600 single seater time of the day, but nonetheless the car was not right. Beating him by a few tenths and also improving his time from those of the timed runs was Tony Jarvis to just miss out on a podium place. Graham Porrett battled manfully with a car which had an engine operating on a questionable number of cylinders, albeit certainly not eight as intended, his time almost mirroring that of his best timed run. Also within a few tenths of his best timed run was runner up Matt Hillam concluding the day with an eleven points haul. Finally with his third ever event win was Steve Miles who was ever so slightly pleased with his day's outcome!