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MOTOR RACING: Norton’s king of the Castle
1:07pm Thursday 11th October 2012 in Sport
BRATTON driver Ben Norton completed the ‘double double’ of Formula Ford 1600 Championship and Carnival titles as Castle Combe closed its 2012 season last weekend.
A dedicated Classic race meeting on Saturday was followed by Grand Finals race day on Sunday where Norton followed up the feat he also achieved in 2009.
The Wiltshire College Spectrum driver only had to finish eighth to be sure of winning the Formula Ford championship, but boldly challenged pole man Rob Hall, the 2011 title holder in the 15-lap race.
Hall led away, but Norton found a way through on lap four, leading until the penultimate tour, when Hall took his chance, believing Norton would not defend too hard to take the win by a mere quarter of a second.
Norton added: “It was a difficult position to be in. I went into the race with an open mind, with no plan, just to see what happened over Avon Rise.
“Rob was keeping me honest so I did shut the door, but not too much. In the end it was the sensible thing to do to win the championship.”
The man who theoretically could have denied him, Steven Jensen from Saltford, enjoyed a race-long dice with Nathan Ward, from Coventry, but had to be content with fourth. Yatton Keynell’s Luke Cooper overcame a qualifying off in his Swift to take Langport’s Roger Orgee for fifth.
Starting from pole in the Carnival, Norton took an immediate lead from Hall before a heavy accident involving 16-year-old Will Goodhew at the exit of Camp on lap 14 brought the race to a premature end.
Saturday’s John Gott Memorial race for ‘Big Healeys’ was full of local drivers and several international entries.
The Bristol-based crew of Eric Woolley and Dan Cox claimed pole in their Sebring, but fourth fastest qualifier Anders Schildt, from Sweden, took the lead on the opening lap and went on to win by more than a minute from Dutch visitor Jaap Sinke.
The Woolley/Cox car dropped back to ninth with a puncture, but the other Bristol-based team of David Smithies and Richard Knight moved up to third overall in their ‘DD 300’ replica.
Woolley made up for it by winning Sunday’s Gadget-Helpline.com Classic 60’s Sports and Saloons race.
The Marlborough-based team of Peter Grant and Andrew Yates retired their 3000 in the ‘Big Healey’ race, as did Bristolians Chris Clarkson and Ted Williams, who later finished second in the Intermarque Twilight challenge from Bristol’s Tim Pearce who took a dominant win with his Morgan Plus 8 from pole.
Clarkson had previously taken the Ford Falcon to ninth place in the Historic V8s race in ninth and went on to take 10th in Sunday’s V8 race, which kicked off Grand Finals Raceday.
In the Fifties Sports Car club’s inter-marque race, Bristol’s Mike Thorne brought his Healey 100M home third overall, with Salisbury’s David Reed 5th in his Aston Martin DB2.
Gary Prebble and Simon Tilling each had to win their respective classes to have a chance of taking the Vadabar Sports and GT championship title.
Prebble duly obliged in his Mitsubishi Evo, despite his car’s gear linkage breaking on lap three, jamming the car in fourth gear for the rest of the race.
“I was just waiting for everyone to come by,” he said.
Tilling was thwarted by Trowbridge’s Andrew Shanley who once again launched his Radical Prosport away from the line to build a commanding lead.
Consequently Prebble, from Southampton, became the first man in Combe’s history to win both the Saloon and Sports & GT championship, his last in 2002. Shanley was given the Driver of the Day award.
Corsham’s Will Di Clau- dio was already Combe’s Saloon Car champion, so didn’t need to enter the final round and might have wished he hadn’t when he spun his class B Peugeot 106 on the opening lap.
Able to continue, he fought back brilliantly to win his class and finish third overall, with a stirring drive.
Melksham’s Tony Hutchings only just made the grid after last-minute repairs, but took the outright win in his Audi TT. Trowbridge’s Mark Funnell in the Mini was fourth.
Warminster’s Geoff Fern was a dominant winner in the Monoposto race, taking a seven-second win in his motorcycle engined KKS TRF-9 single seater.
His teammate, Nigel Davers from Trowbridge, was fourth overall and second in class behind Fern, giving him his third consecutive championship title.
In the GT Academy saloon versus sports car race which rounded off the day, Steve Putt in the Mazda RX7 was a clear winner, but Di Claudio was running second before his engine gave way on the last lap.
Hutchings worked his way up from the back of the grid to third in the Audi, with a great drive.
CASTLE COMBE REACTION & PICTURES IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES