MOTOR RACING: Hunt adds star quality to race day
CASTLE Combe’s Summer Race Day proved unfortunately titled after rain played havoc with many of the races.
While the Formula Ford 1600 race was run in dry conditions, it was an epic race.
Freddie Hunt, son of the late 1976 F1 world champion James Hunt, was guesting in the class B Swift SC92 of the Yatton Keynell-based Swift Cooper team.
It was Hunt junior’s first visit to Combe, his father having contributed to the circuit’s survival when appearing as an expert witness at the 1981 public enquiry which secured its future.
Hunt claimed class pole and seventh overall in the wet qualifying session, but made a slow start, dropping down to 11th and retiring on the fifth lap after spinning on oil at the Esses.
Hunt’s spin prompted a safety car, to the chagrin of Melksham’s Ed Moore who had shot from eighth on the grid to take a dominant lead in his Van Diemen.
Hunt nevertheless impressed Swift Cooper team boss Alan Cooper, who said: “He is a lovely guy, with a great attitude.
“I’ve been really surprised at him over the last few days.
“The awning has been full of media and people wanting to see him all day and he’s been really great with them and very professional.
“He was brilliant in qualifying and if his last lap hadn’t been cut short, he would have done a time which could have put him fourth overall.
“It’s a shame about the race, because he would have won the class, but he thanked me for everything afterwards and we hope he will come and race with us again.”
The two laps under the safety car allowed Chippenham’s Adam Higgins to close the gap on Moore, who, two laps later, spun on the same oil as Hunt, later retiring with broken rear suspension.
This left Higgins to take a brilliant win and the championship lead.
He said: “We found the engine had three bent valves in the first four races, but we got on top of that just before the last meeting and suddenly it all came together.
“There was all sorts going on in that race, with oil down, which Ed spun on at the Esses, cars off in the middle of the track – absolutely mad.
“As soon as Ed lost it, it was just a case of staying ahead, as those Spectrums are so fast in a straight line.”
The cars he was referring to were those of teammates, Nathan Ward, from Coventry, and Ashley Crossey, from Flax Bourton, who took each other out on the last lap at Tower while competing for second place. That allowed Langford’s Roger Orgee to inherit second despite his Ridgemill Van Diemen performing below par.
Higgins’ brother, Richard, from Burnham on Sea, was third, even though his Van Diemen was stuck in fourth gear after the safety car period.
The Saloon Car championship race was run in three parts.
A wet qualifying and a treacherous track saw it red flagged after four laps following an accident involving new driver Richard Hart, from Westbury on Trym.
After the restart it was red-flagged again on lap seven after the demise of Russ Akers and Bath’s Angus Gorringe at Quarry, in unconnected incidents.
Pole man Tony Hutchings from Calne, had been out dragged by Shepton Mallet’s Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird at the first start, but made amends on the second restart, leading until the incident.
Part three, at the end of the day, saw Hutchings fend off both Hyde-Andrews-Bird and an inspired Julian Ellison, from Swindon, who had worked his way up from 23rd on the grid in his Astra Turbo.
Keynsham’s John Barnard in a similar Astra, was fourth. Akers was fifth in his repaired Astra, with Kevin Bird sixth in his BMW.
Bristol’s David Rose extended his championship lead with another class D win in his VW Lupo, while Kieran Simmons, from Weston Super Mare, took a fine class B win in his Fiesta.
Cricklade’s Nick Holden took his Aeriel Atom to a class win and a somewhat hollow third overall in the circuit’s GT race, which had a disappointing four entries and which saw Gary Prebble take a record 40th win at the circuit.
PICTURES FROM CASTLE COMBE'S SUMMER RACE DAY IN THIS WEEK'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND WILTSHIRE TIMES