FJHRA / HSCC SILVERLINE Championships Round 1 Castle Combe – Saturday 16th April

The 1.8 mile Wiltshire circuit of Castle Combe, was not only the venue for the start of the FJ Silverline championships but the beginning of the 50th anniversary celebration year for the HSCC. It was 50 years ago at this very circuit that the Griffiths Formula race took place and saw the birth of the HSCC.

With snow on the nearby Cotswold Hills, temperatures just above freezing 17 front engine cars and 22 rear engine cars made it for a very wet practice. A good turn out for the start of the season. Elva driver David Bishop having to miss the weekend after falling off a ladder! (He is fine!).

Front engine.

Qualifying very wet track greeted the cautious drivers with a spin or two helping keep the adrenalin level up. Mark Woodhouse in the Elva 100 had to pull out after four laps with a broken diff, as did Ian Philips in the BMC Mk1 with a damaged rad after a lost wheel resulted in a little excursion.

Stuart Roach in the Stanguellini of Tom De Gres put up the best time of 1.39.89. A very impressive performance considering it was the first time Stuart had raced the car and in the wet. Depressing for those of us going to Monaco.

Andrew Tart in the Bond taking up the other front row spot on 1.41.15. The first ten cars being separated by 18 seconds.

The track had dried out for the race with some spring sunshine thrown in.

The start gave Graham Barron in his Gemini his five seconds of fame (or was it four) as from the third row he took the lead off the start. He must have been watching the start marshal’s finger.

A fight for the lead was quickly set up with Roach / Mallock / Tart. Andrew Tart setting the fastest lap of 1.20.45. At the finish the order had changed to Mallock / Tart / Roach. The Stanguellini suffering from a mild miss fire. Mike Walker in the second Bond crossing the line in fourth, just 1/100th second behind third place.

Further back there was some close racing with Ian Phillips, Graham Barron and John Arnold. All finishing on the same second. The only retirement being Ralf Emmerling in the Gemini with a bent valve. A good season opener with no less than nine separate marques being represented.

Rear engine.

Like for the front engines, practice was in wet and cold conditions but again very close at the front.  Cameron Jackson took pole with a 1.24.15 with Stuart Roach (this time in his regular Alexis Mk4) on a 1.24.22. So close!

Second row was Greg Thornton and Steve Jones.

Interesting to note that the fastest rear engine car was some 15 seconds quicker than the front engine.  The time keepers were pretty strict disallowing times for four cars with incorrect numbers and transponder issues –  take note!

Alex Morton in his Lightning Envoyette, more usually driven by son, Pete, sharing third row with Andrew Wilkinson in the Lynx T3.

The race was drama from start to finish. Pole man Cameron Jackson failed to make the grid due to clutch problems and started from the pit lane. Greg Thornton picked up the baton to chase the Alexis, but on lap three Steve Jones in his Cooper T67 visited the Armco bringing out the red flag for a restart.  This reducing the contest to a 12min race. Steve caused some damage to the Cooper but he was absolutely fine. Robin Longdon pushed off the reformed grid with a broken driveshaft bringing the re-start number to 18 cars.

After the restart Cameron went on a mission and was soon up to fifth. Two laps from the end the Lotus of Greg Thornton was leading with his mirrors full of the Brabham. Stuart Roach then stopped out on track with a flat battery leaving Jackson / Thornton to fight to the end. So Cameron came from last to finish first 1 second ahead of the Lotus. Amazing. The final podium place going to Nick Fennell in the Lotus 27 just half a second in front of fourth place man Andrew Wilkinson in the Lynx.

The leading C2 car was Crispian Besley finishing in 7th spot in the Cooper ahead of Peter Mullen in the Kieft. Good to see two of six Kieft cars out – nearly 50% of the total production. C1 honours went to Simon Durling in the Lotus 18.

A good day had by all at a great venue. All very efficiently run. 37 FJ s out for the season opener.

Richard Pugh
17th April 2016.