GOODING CONTINUES ASCENT TO THE THRONE AT CASTLE COMBE

The second half of the 2018 BRSCC Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres began in earnest at a damp and overcast Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire, with both individual class and overall titles still very much up for grabs. Castle Combe’s deceptively high speed nature usually has a tendency to catch drivers out, so all competitors entered were required to have their wits about them come qualifying.

Come the end of the session, Class C points leader Harry Gooding had stuck his Ford Fiesta ST on pole position for the first race of the weekend, with defending Class C champion and ex-BTCC racer David Nye lining up alongside him. Jamie Going and Myles Baker took up the second row ahead of Jake Dawson and Tom Hutchins, with the remaining places in the class taken up by Ryan Faulconbridge and Danny Harrison. Jamie White was on pole once again for Class D next to Zachary Lucas, followed by Tim Bennett and Luke Bannister and the Class A duo of Mark Court and Colin Newbold.

With rain in the air and a wet track to contend with for Race 1, Nye was able to beat Gooding to the lead on the opening lap and was able to complete it some 1.3 seconds ahead of the former Fiesta Junior champion followed by Going, Hutchins and Faulconbridge. By the midway point in the race, Nye had extended the lead further to almost 3 seconds and this increased further when a mishap from Gooding dropped him another 5 seconds back but retaining 2nd place. He immediately jumped back on the pace but was only able to match Nye’s lap times rather than beat them and thus the lead gap of just over 8 seconds remained the same until the end.

Nye made the most of the conditions to score his third win of the season with Gooding holding station in 2nd place as mentioned. Danny Harrison’s drive from the back of the Class C field to a podium finish with 3rd place was an impressive one at that, as he managed to beat Hutchins to the rostrum by just over 3 seconds. Jake Dawson completed the top 5 with Jamie Going forced to settle for 6th overall, while Class D winner Jamie White picked up 7th from rival Zachary Lucas. The rest of the top 10 was completed by Ryan Faulconbridge and Class A winner Mark Court.

The conditions improved for the second race of the weekend on Sunday, with overcast skies but a drying track nonetheless. While the front row pair was identical to that of Race 1, Nye would start on pole this time with Gooding alongside. Nye’s fortunes took a nosedive seconds into the start as an incident on the approach to Quarry sent him tumbling down to the back of the field and a lot of work ahead of him to recover. While he set about making up places, Gooding and Going looked to pick up where they’d left off from Snetterton and ran 1-2 throughout the first half of the race.

Danny Harrison kept Going under pressure as the pair slowly but surely reeled in Gooding over the next few laps until the trio plus Tom Hutchins were covered by just over half a second. Harrison eventually pounced on Lap 11 to pass Going for 2nd place before making a move on Gooding a lap later to take the lead. The three cars behind him stuck close to his rear bumper for the remainder of the race, but they could do nothing to overhaul the Mutation Motorsport driver as he took the chequered flag to win on the road. However, Harrison was hit post-race with a 5-second penalty for track limits, leaving him without the victory and off the podium entirely.

Gooding inherited the win as a result with Going making it the 4th Jam-Sport 1-2 finish in five races. Hutchins picked up the final podium spot in 3rd with Harrison’s penalty eventually pushing him down to 4th place. David Nye’s charge back through the field after his Lap 1 dramas was rewarded with a top 5 finish in 5th place, followed home by Jake Dawson, Myles Baker and Ryan Faulconbridge. Jamie White once again proved unbeatable in Class D with another win from pole, beating Lucas, Bannister and Bennett respectively, while Mark Court once again made up valuable points on Class A rival Colin Newbold with another win of his own.

Thankfully the track had dried completely come the beginning of the third and final race, although clouds still hung in the air to provide a loose threat to the weather. Gooding was again on pole for the second time and while he remained in the lead from the start, Nye was able to overhaul Going on the opening lap to slot into 2nd. Immediately he began to apply the pressure as he remained around half a second away from the lead and consistently hounded Gooding lap after, never letting the points leader escape for one moment.

All of this allowed Going to bring himself back into play eventually and soon the three cars were covered by 0.6 seconds, before Going picked his moment and made a move on Nye on Lap 14 to steal 2nd place. Nye then made a mistake on the final lap which cost him several seconds but still allowed him to retain 3rd place on the road. In the meantime, Gooding remained unchallenged to the end and picked up his second win of the weekend, followed by Going in 2nd place; Going was lucky to retain his position after he was handed a 5 second penalty for track limits, although thankfully the gap to Nye at the flag was large enough to allow him to keep his position.

Outside the top three, Hutchins picked up 4th place ahead of Harrison, Jake Dawson and Faulconbridge, the latter also copping a 5-second penalty for track limits like team boss Going. Baker rounded off the Class C finishers in 8th place, with Jamie White completing another Class D clean sweep with the win and 9th place overall, and Zachary Lucas completing the top 10 behind him. Once again, Mark Court took maximum points in Class A to make it three wins out of three against Newbold for the weekend.

The gap at the top of the table has closed up further between Gooding and White in the overall standings, but the next venue may well level the playing field for everyone. Just about every driver in attendance will be experiencing a brand new circuit for the first time, as the championship heads to the fastest circuit in the UK – Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire. With the infamous Church corner awaiting to catch drivers out, will it be business as usual for our class leaders, or will the form book go out of the window?

Scott Woodwiss

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