Castle Combe Race Report

Double victory for Chandler at Combe

The third meeting (rounds five and six) for the 5 Club Racing MX5 Cup took place at Castle Combe where an incredible 29 cars turned out as the series quickly gets bigger and bigger at every round.

The Wiltshire venue also provided the biggest crowd of the season to date with at least a line of spectators all the way around the 1.85 mile circuit.

A mighty impressive lap time from Brian Chandler, who won both races last time out at Brands Hatch, put him on pole by almost a full second.

Ben Short was the best of the rest and was the only other driver to lap within a second of Chandler. Will Blackwell-Chambers, who was the convincing double victor at Donington Park, claimed the third position spot in qualifying just ahead of James Rogers.

Kris Greatrex beat his brother Jason in qualifying which put him fifth with just Marco Aghem between the pair of them. Jack Sycamore, Daniel Stewart and Kevin Dengate completed the top ten during the fifteen minute session.
Race 1
Chandler made use of his pole position to power off of the line and lead the way ahead of Short who slotted into second place. A flying start from Rogers gave him the chance to challenge Short on the second lap and he did just that with Blackwell-Chambers following him through on his way back up the order after a poor start which dropped him originally back to fifth.

The battle for second allowed Chandler to make a break and pull clear of the opposition, he would eventually take the victory by five seconds in the eleven lap race.

Rogers, to begin with, managed to gap Blackwell-Chambers but with him and Short working together they managed to quickly close in on Rogers, and Short could retake second on lap five with Blackwell-Chambers following him through to get back ahead of Rogers.

Jason Greatrex also followed Short and Blackwell-Chambers ahead of Rogers which promoted him to fourth in the four car battle for second. As Greatrex and Rogers battled for fourth place, it allowed Short and Blackwell-Chambers to break away and confirm their podium positions with Short ahead of Blackwell-Chambers. However, the battle for fourth was resolved less quickly as Greatrex and Rogers swapped positions frequently and it was finally determined on the ninth lap during lappery in favour of Rogers ahead of Greatrex.

Kris Greatrex made an awesome start which landed him in fourth place on the opening lap but fell back on the fifth lap of the race when he had a quick spin which dropped him back to seventh behind Matthew Short who also made a good started as he had gained five places during those opening five laps. The pair were quickly engulfed in a battle with Sycamore Jonathan Hughes – who had worked his way up from thirteenth.

Hughes slowly pulled out a gap which allowed him to come home in sixth place ahead of Greatrex and Short after Sycamore had a brief loss of concentration and ended up in the barriers on the final lap showing how quickly the Castle Combe Circuit can bite.

Aghem always held a big enough gap between himself and Chris Lovett in which was the battle for tenth but became ninth on the final lap when Sycamore found himself in the barriers.

Kevin Dengate was between Aghem and Lovett in the early stages but dropped back and a close battle with the leading female driver Amy Barker who won the BWRDC GoldStar club category award at the beginning of the year.

Dengate was able to beat Barker to the chequered flag to finish in eleventh. Ian Tomlinson, John Powell and Jamie Ingram completed the top fifteen.

Race 2
The second race saw the results of race one determining the starting positions but Short beat Chandler off of the line and stormed into an early advantage.

After challenging for a few laps, on lap four Chandler made the most of the slipstream and took the lead away from Short. Chandler and Short made a brief slip-up on the seventh lap which allowed Blackwell-Chambers to take a short-lived lead as Chandler and Short bundled back through on the following lap.

The pair then could break away from the remainder of the pack. Chandler held on to take a 1.8 second victory over Short in the second closest finish of the season so far. Although, it is unlikely that the 0.002 second victory margin from the Brands Hatch opener is going to be matched. Blackwell-Chambers held on to finish in third to make two identical podiums, with Rogers in fourth.

Kris Greatrex made another lightning start to catapult him up into fifth and held onto that position ahead of his brother Jason as the pair had an almighty scrap, although Kris was never behind Jason when the cars crossed the timing beam. Therefore, Kris finished in fifth ahead of Jason albeit by just half a second.

Hughes had a relatively lonely race to finish in seventh ahead of Matthew Short who had an equally uneventful race. Lovett worked his way ahead of Aghem on lap nine of the eleven lap encounter to finish in ninth place with Aghem coming home in the final place within the top ten.

Sycamore drove a stunning race to finish in eleventh after starting back in 28th after falling out of the first race. He claimed eleventh after passing Powell on lap nine. Powell held on to finish in twelfth ahead of Daniel Stewart who drew up behind him after following Sycamore around from the beginning of the race. Stewart started back in 20th so he was another driver with a strong race after passing lots of other competitors.

Ingram and Darren Shepsman completed the top fifteen. Barker had to work her way up the field after dropping to the back on lap three – she finished in nineteenth.

Therefore, heading away from Castle Combe after six rounds of the series Chandler has taken four wins and only competed in four races, so is the man to beat. Blackwell-Chambers is the only driver to have finished on the podium in every race with two of those podiums being race victories.

Jonathan Hughes was voted the driver of the day at Castle Combe after his impressive sixth and seventh place finishes. The series next will be in action at the end of July at Anglesey, but 5 Club Racing will be at Rockingham beforehand with the MX150R’s.

Words: Joshua Barrett
Pictures: Steve Jones – Motorsport Photographer, Tel: 01905 424944