The Masters Series Top Hat Racing at Castle Combe - 13th June 2009 - the XK Challenge
The Racing goes from strength to strength!!
Castle Combe is truly a wonderful drivers’ circuit. It has everything, including a winding two mile circuit through the countryside and, with its fair share of lumps and bumps to test the driver’s ability to control the car under breaking and it always has a wonderful spectator following and, even more so, when the sun shines, which it duly did on Saturday.
Unlike Brands, it was a much more civilised time to start the proceedings with our Qualifying at 10:10 on a bright and sunny morning. So we didn’t have to resort to a wet weather set-up yet again. Thinking back, I have never raced Castle Combe in the wet. They say the sun shines on the righteous, YEAH RIGHT!!??
Having been to Castle Come the week before to introduce Read G to yet another new circuit, we practiced hard and Read achieved a Lap Time only 0.8 Secs off my best at Combe. It was quite an achievement and of course a lot to do with excellent ‘Instruction’. You judge that one!
However, we must realise what the objectives are for this season and that is to finish all the races, to gather enough ‘Race Completed’ signatures so that Read can upgrade his Race License from a National ‘B’ to a National ‘A’ so he/we can race at Spa in September.
So, Quali went well and so did the race. Apart from finishing the race which was our objective achieved, it was not without its incidents.
Read started the race in excellent style and picked off those in front in fine style and getting faster by the lap. By the time he came in for me to jump into the VERY hot seat (It was 21 Degrees!!) I just needed to maintain the momentum.
I was out of the blocks as fast as possible. I brought our lap times down to the 1 Min 29’s and started sawing through the pack. But, the circuit was very slippery, mainly because it was hot and old cars don’t lay down a lot of rubber just oil!!
Coming out of the Esses I put too much power down to soon and nearly lost the rear end, then the front end. Eventually I just lifted off the throttle, took both hands off the wheel and let the car right itself. It was perfect, she straightened up and I was busy once more applying the power, this time, in a straight line.
Andy Keith-Lucas whom I was catching in Claire Keith-Lucas’ XK150, lost his rear end at Quarry Corner and I saw him busily mowing the grass as I sailed past.
However, it was all rather short-lived, as Stephen Skipworth in his beautiful XK120 Roadster locked his front brakes at Tower Corner and hit the Tyre Wall at some speed and bent his chassis.
This meant that for almost the remainder of the race we were following the Safety Car. This allowed Andy K-L to catch me. When the SC finally cleared the circuit, I had two laps to fend off Andy’s onslaught.
As we approached Tower we were being lapped by a very fast TVR Griffith and, remembering Skipworth Junior’s foray into the tyre wall and Read’s need to finish the race, I handed Andy the chalice.
But it was a great day, but it obviously needed to be a sensible outcome of great day’s racing at Castle Combe. We also managed to haul ourselves up nine places and finished 5th in Class (Against 6th in Class at Brands Hatch) and more Championship points.
My next race will be at the Silverstone Classic on
Saturday 25th July 2009