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Castle Combe Great Western Sprint

Steve & Matt will be competing in the SBD 2.0L XE Dallara

Carole will be competing in her Hayabusa powered SBD OMS CF08

Steve: 12th in BSC R29: Fail, spun at Camp, 4th in BSC R30: 116.29s
Matt: FTD – 112.96s 2nd in BSC R29: 115.31s, 2nd in BSC R30: 114.49s
Carole: 8th in BSC R29: 129.29s, 10th in BSC R30: 131.16s

We left early for Castle Combe because for us it is only a 2 hour journey, the car was set up with all the changes and ready to go expecting warmer weather than what we had last year so hoping for a good day. I was surprised to see Terry and Graham there after the issues they had at Anglesey, their engine is due for a re-build and was only running 7 cylinders, so Graham had elected not to drive. As usual Matt went out first in practice, the track was damp in a couple of places and as normal he took it quite gently. He said the car felt nicely balanced and pointed out where the wet patches were on the circuit. Steve went out with tyres that had a tiny bit of heat but not a lot and the car felt pretty well balanced in the cooler temperature but took it quite gentle round Tower where Matt had said it was wet. Busy concentrating on where the wet spot was and thinking about it and that it wasn’t as bad as Matt had described as he came out the second chicane, there was a slight technical issue causing him to come into the pit lane (forgot he was doing a lap and three quarters!). Even coming down the pit lane to the clock, Steve was wondering why his time hadn’t come up, John Hughes said ‘that was quick, didn’t even see you come down the pit straight!’ at which point the penny dropped. Steve had done one lap less that everybody else and one of the trickiest corners, Camp, is normally only used for sprints at the British rounds.

Come the 1st timed run, Steve was now first on the cold tyres but they still felt warmer than what they had been after practice, so Steve thought the car was going to be really good especially with the run up to Quarry being a long way and would give the tyres more time to heat up. Unfortunately as Steve reached Quarry, the tyres were still cold and the car understeered on exit and he had to back out of the throttle. The car then wouldn’t turn in at the first chicane and something was happening on every corner, when he got to Camp, he thought there would be enough heat in them by then but missed the apex as it wouldn’t turn in and had to back out the throttle on the exit so as to not run out of track. By the time he had got over Avon Rise and coming up to Quarry for the second time, the tyres were beginning to come in but still a slight amount of understeer. He came and swapped over to Matt and said the car was getting better as the lap was finishing, which should be good for his run. The time was reasonable and was pretty close, however Matt went out and posted a time that was about 3 seconds inside Steve’s record, said there was still a bit of understeer and that he had made a few mistakes and there was still time to come. So the decision was made to reset the front ride height to what we had used at Castle Combe earlier in the year, to see if this would get the balance perfect. The 1st Top12, Steve went out first and it turned in much sharper to the corners, maybe a little too sharp but on the colder tyres that first part of the lap was pretty good, unfortunately when it came to Camp corner, he was a bit more cautious because of the understeer on his previous run, but as he turned after a hard tap on the brakes, it turned in so sharp that it headed in towards the kerb on the inside, opened the steering to get a straighter run at the inside kerb, unfortunately there is a bump on the kerb that spat the rear of the car out so ruined his Top12 run, the car was fine with no issues and drove back to hand over to Matt. He warned Matt of the handling change but there wasn’t time to do anything about it and he was quite nervous during his run and agreed that it was difficult to carry speed where he wanted, so he went quite a bit slower than his qualifying time and ended 2nd in the run off behind Terry.

We knew we only had one run left, which was the qualifier and run off in one go, so wherever you finished would determine what points you got. It was decided to change the front setting back to almost where is was in the morning, it was Matt’s turn to go first, he said the car was better but the temperatures had dropped slightly. Matt finished 2nd in this run off and Steve who had the hotter tyres was making lots of mistakes and hadn’t settled into the car all day. Steve finished 4th. After the runs, we had learnt a lot from the day and Matt had experienced the issues that Steve had had all year so we know where to go to significantly step up the performance which should just be some simple set up changes and testing to help with the colder conditions. It is a shame we don’t run the car in hotter countries!

It was at this point we realised that although Terry won both run offs, he hadn’t scored sufficient points and Matt was only adding to his scores and had won the British Sprint Championship with a 3 point margin. Congratulations to Matt, commiserations to Terry, it is a shame he had to run with an underpowered car for the day, but did everything he could so congratulations to Terry for 2nd Overall, which is also an SBD supported car. Steve didn’t add to his score, but still finished 4th.