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Round 3 – CCRC Castle Combe – 25 May 2009

The start

The start

Chris Acklam does it again – 3 in a row.

ZERO EXHAUSTS THOROUGHBRED SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Race Report- 25 May 2009 – CCRC Castle Combe – Round 3

Round 3 of the Zero Exhausts MGCC Thoroughbred Sportscar Championship saw an unusually thin grid for the Bank Holiday Monday meeting at Castle Combe circuit. A few regulars were missing for a variety of reasons, including competition from an all-Triumph race at Mallory Park. Just sixteen signed up for the meeting and all took to the track for an early qualifying session.

Scrutineering was at an ungodly hour for a holiday Monday but was passed by all, despite what could be described politely as some over-officious work by the noise testers.

No surprise at such a quick circuit to see the Morgans leading the way. Chris Acklam followed up his two opening victories by qualifying his plus 8 on pole, nearly a second clear of the field with a 1:17.015. Not far behind were Tony Lees and Andy Green, both keeping him honest with sub-1:20 times. In fourth overall, Simon Orebi Gann captured class C pole with a 1:21.351 in his lightweight Morgan. With no class A competitors, the remaining class B pole went to Max Cawthorn in his smartly turned out MGB roadster, 7th overall with a 1:23.281

Post-qualifying the race looked like the front of the grid would be relatively predictable, although the middle promised a bit more interest.

With a number of competitors less familiar with Castle Combe than other circuits and some qualifying carefully on new engines and other components there was plenty of scope for changes in the order as the race progressed.

Later qualifying sessions saw enough rain hit the tarmac to make things interesting and it looked uncertain for a good portion of the day but by the time the grid was formed for the race it was warm and sunny.

On the start, Tony Lees jumped the gun and leapt forward but realising his mistake, stopped the car before they were eventually let go. He sportingly made a slow getaway in order to ensure he didn’t gain any advantage but this backed up the field behind him and a number of cars had to make sudden moves to avoid an incident.

At the front, it initially appeared as though Chris Acklam was going to run away with it but after the first two laps, Lees got the bit between his teeth and the pair were never separated by more than a few car lengths the rest of the way round. It was close at the flag but in the end Acklam took the chequered for a well deserved overall and class D win.

This close pairing was repeated through the rest of the field, and despite the small grid it proved a very entertaining race. Early in the race, Andy Green looked to be catching Peter Henry in 3rd place, but a mistake set him back by several seconds. By the closing laps he had clawed back to within a few car lengths but over cooked it coming out of Camp corner, collecting it nicely but raising both hands in frustration as their order would remain the same to the finish.

Jerry Knight ahead of Simon Orebi Gann

Jerry Knight ahead of Simon Orebi Gann

Behind them, Jerry Knight appeared to have a lonely race on his hands in 5th position and was cruising to a Class C win but Simon Orebi Gann’s lightweight Morgan made up steady ground throughout the race and was pushing for position through the closing laps, finishing less than half a second behind in 6th position.

Circulating a few seconds behind them was another D-type/lightweight Morgan battle, with Tim Falce similarly reeled in over the course of the race by Andrew Potter, who made it even closer than the first two at the finish.

Tim Falce ahead (just) of Andrew Potter

Tim Falce ahead (just) of Andrew Potter

A protective line through Camp by Falce defended the position on the final lap, but allowed Potter to run wide around the outside, carrying more momentum towards the line and nearly pipping Falce for 7th. The gap at the line was 2 tenths, and looked about half a car lengths.

The Class B battle was no less intense. Roy Chamberlain took advantage of a poor start by Max Cawthorn and was leading from Colin Jones and Max, both of whom had passed Kevin Swann in the early going. Jones tried once down the inside into Camp corner but wasn’t successful in passing Chamberlain until the following lap.

Roy Chamberlain's TR

Roy Chamberlain

Chamberlain was forced to back off through the corner and Cawthorn then passed him down the pit straight, having carried more momentum through the corner. Chamberlain retired soon after with electrical problems but Cawthorn chased Jones for the remainder of the race, pressing hard and often looking like he was about to make a move. In the end, Jones held him off for the Class B win but a gap of just 0.365 separated them at the finish.

Another entertaining round of racing from the Thoroughbreds in spite of the small grid, which hopefully will return to its usual standards by the next round.

Stuart Dickinson

Photos courtesy of Jonathon Baines, www.pbase.com/speedmog

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