Castle Combe is nestled in the Cotswolds and is known as one of Britain’s prettiest villages….but for us it’s the race circuit that draws us to this area of Wiltshire.
This year’s Castle Combe Grand National had enough great racing, special guests and displays to keep everyone happy, with the focus for many the battle for the King of Combe title. It was billed as a head-to-head between Josh Day and Daniel Cooper. Both have lifted the title before….and both wanted it again, but with the arrival of Charlie Nesbitt, Jordan Weaving and TJ Toms life was not going to be easy. Race one saw Day, and Cooper set a storming pace but as the race went on it was evident that Cooper was struggling with his Impross BMW, whilst Day on the newly rebuilt (….after crashing out in flames at the recent Pembrey round) R1 started to pull away at pace setting a new lap record in the process. Nesbitt despite not getting the best of starts dealt with Toms, Weaving and Jim Walker to get into third closing in on Coops in the latter stages, and that’s the way it finished….first blood to Day.
Race two saw the top three at it again, but in familiar style Day on the Dayo Racing R1 dragged away mid race… setting a new outright circuit lap record as an added bonus.
Cooper, a former three time King of Combe was frustrated and struggling to calibrate the S1000RR electronics for Combe with the different tyres he was running to the usual BSB tyres and was passed by Nesbitt on his Rapidfullfilment R6 in the final laps. There was only one option left for Cooper’s Team…..turn the electronics off and do it old school with no rider aids, just the throttle and the seat-of your-pants. So, to race three, Josh set the pace, but Daniel stayed with him this time adapting his style. By mid-race Josh pushed hard and opened a full second gap lowering the lap record again! Cooper was having none of it and the former British 125 champ dug deep and stunned everyone with the bucking and weaving BM as he closed and caught Day. Cooper then built the pace, and at the first opportunity grabbed the lead… got his head down and set a stunning lap at 1min 08.45, that’s 98mph average, and the fastest ever two wheeled lap around Combe to take the third leg win. Day was second, but with the King of Combe over three legs his two wins earlier meant that second would be enough to be crowned King of Combe for the third consecutive term. Cooper was overall runner-up, with Jordan Weaving taking third in the final race and third overall as Charlie Nesbitt retired his R6 at Tower with two laps to go.
Three great races…. A well-deserved winner…. And a new outright lap record, what more could we ask for….. Well 27 other great races, interview and on track laps by Carl Fogarty, Graeme Crosby, Steve Parrish and Tommy Bridewell and a stunning display of ex-Barry Sheene machines worth millions as the circuit celebrated 50 years since Barry won his first race at Combe on a 125 Bultaco, that’s what !!
All the Castle Combe Action | Class by Class
Formula 125 | Backed by Steve Lynham Motorcycles
Championship leader Sean Able was a non-starter at this his local meeting due to an accident at the previous Anglesey round the way was open for someone to elevate themselves up the point’s table. It was Oliver Sweet on his F125 Aprila that took a couple of wins as Able sat on the side-lines, now safe in the knowledge that with just Oulton to go the championship is his.
Formula 400 | Backed by A and R Racing Spares
Tim Bradley was again in dominant form taking three more wins on the A and Z Taylor FZR400 Yamaha, making it 17 wins from the 21 rounds so far. Newcomer Martin Stutely impressed many with three fine runner-up spots on his ZXR. Jay Able, Christopher Swyer, Elwyn Fryer and Finlay Arscott battled it out all weekend for the final step on the podium. Dan Hanby dented his chances of getting into second place in the championship after a big-off on Saturday, he was ok but mathematically that championship attack is out of reach.
500cc Open | Backed EDP Photo News
Nick Sansome wheeled the Double Take RS250 out for one on his occasional outings and prove he has still-got-it by leading the first race and setting a new 500 class lap record. Cruel luck saw a broken piston force him out, leaving the way open for Nigel Palmer to take a win on his QRG TZ, with Elwyn Fryer second. Fryer proceeded to take both of Sundays finals to elevate himself to second in the championship behind the amazing Bradley Richman who built up such a lead early season that he has secured the title despite moving onto a 600 mid-season.
600cc Open | Backed by IMS Ltd
Josh Day took one win on his faithful old R6, but once Charlie Nesbitt got his eye in the young former British Moto 3 champ was unstoppable setting lap record after lap record on his way to two emphatic wins. The third outing saw Max Symonds and Aaron Ridewood battle it out for the podium spots with finally Max grabbing second place to secure the 2019 title, adding it to his 2014 and 2017 titles.
Powerbike | Backed by Bluebell Lakes
Josh Day took two wins in the Powerbikes finals one over Daniel Cooper and one over Chris Pope. He could possibly have made it a hat trick but decided to sit out Sunday morning’s race as a short sharp shower hit Castle Combe, saving himself and valuable tyres for the King of Combe feature race. That left the way open for someone else to pick up the 25 points, and it was former British Moto 3 and 600 Superstock champion Jordan Weaving that picked up the baton on his new JDR Racing GSXR1000 Suzuki. Jordan took the win over Daniel Cooper and the returning Sam Thompson on his ZX10R.
Super Twins | Backed by Racebuykz.com
Defending champion William Holland was having a race 2019 outing but proved he has lost none of his pace and took a big lead in the Super Twins on his JHS SFV Gladius setting a new lap record before disaster struck at the Esses. He suffered a big high-side that was probably reported to the local air traffic control!. Joe Thomas took up the running on his family run SV to take the win. Newly crowned 2019 champ Edward Giles took the rain shower affected race two over Thomas on his Giles Motors SV, but for the third outing it was a dry track and sunny skies again. Thomas romped home 15 seconds clear proving that the young Welshman who was a former front runner in 125 British championships races has not lost the will to win. Holland, the talented outgoing two-time champion is considering his racing future despite still being under 21, as he only ever seems to have big crashes….and they hurt.
Mini Twins | Backed by Racebuykz.com
William Holland took race one on his JHS Racing 650 Suzuki over Olii Warren and Joe Thomas. However, Holland had a massive highside on another outing in the Super Twins as I explained earlier damaging his elbow and ruling him out of the rest of the meeting. That left the door open for Olii Warren on the Boutiqueolii SV and Joe Thomas on his SV. Two very different racing style meaning they passed each other time and time again on both races. Dan Harris suffered from an earlier high-speed crash but rode hard to grab points taking a fourth and a couple of thirds to protect his series lead.
Sound of Thunder | Backed by 100% Suspension
Scott Pitchers looked more like himself after taking two wins on his Saul Bros 959 Panigale and lowering the lap record numerous times (he also had an outing on his old RS250 Honda in the GP class). He headed home reigning champ and 2019 champion elect Dave Mackay both times. Dave was in no mood to be beaten in the final outing of the weekend and on the True Heroes Panigale forced to an early lead that he held for the 10 laps to finally get one over on Pitchers. Paul Willis had three podium finishes on his KTM, although he said he was struggling for some reason and not able to do the lap times he knows that he and the bike are capable of.
Streetstock | Backed by DTR Racing Spares and Metzeler
Simon Bastable took three wins, maximum points and a new class lap record in the 700cc category on his WSC/Wincanton R6 each time over title rival David Irons. The thing that Simon will be happiest with though is that he finally takes over at the top of the championship table with just Oulton left in four weeks’ time. The 1300 class had Combe wild-card Charles Hardisty grab two wins on his BMW S1000RR over series leader Chris Oliver. Oliver on The Garage of Trowbridge GSXR100 took the third over Jon Wright who was having a troubled weekend on his Streetstocker with a re-occurrence of intermittent electrical issues that have plagued him for a couple of meetings.
Pre-Injections | Backed by Love Life and Ride
Jon Wright on his Controls and Safety R1 took two wins to Daniel Boucher’s one in the 1300 class to close the gap on Boucher’s championship lead to 11 points. Daniel on his LBW / D Boucher R1 took the other race though to keep damage to a minimum going into the last round. In the 700cc class season long rivals Daniel Jones and Daniel Nelmes again shared the wins with two going to Jones on his Emlyn Garages bike and Nelmes one on his R6. Nelmes though has taken nine wins over the season allied to the three crashes that Jones suffered over the season proved a decisive factor in the championship.
Bandits and Formula Prostocks | Backed by Motul Oils
As ever the Bandits gave us action with the top two of James McHardy and Harley Prebble once more pulling no punches. Race one saw the usual nip and tuck with passes aplenty….but two Bandits will not easily go through Old Paddock on full chat and the two clashed with McHardy getting Prebble’s handlebars in the ribs sending him careering across the grass…..an embarrassed Prebble took the win. Race two McHardy and the Vacuum Drainage Suzuki stole an early lead, Prebble on the Redneck racing bike chased hard and set a new lap record, but the race was McHardy’s. Both of Sundays races had the top two cross the line less than a tenth of a second apart…both times with Prebble ahead. McHardy still has the upper hand in the championship though and will be in defensive mode to take the title at Oulton (……if he knows how to ride that way…..LOL) Also part of the Formula Prostock series are the FP1's (pre '81 Classic F1) where John Tatham took a clean sweep FP2's (pre '87 Production) with Phil Webber and Mark Carels-Watson sharing honours and FP3's (pre '95 Classic Superbikes) where Nigel Manning-Morton took three but Tony Hart prevented him taking a clean sweep with a convincing outing on Saturday afternoon.
Ducati Desmo | Backed by The Ducati Sporting Club
Andy Blomfield with his BB Racing Ducati, Dan James on his Notohashi/Jim Roger bike and Duncan Baillie on the Saddletramps 620SS shared a win each in the Desmo Due Ducati A series. Blomfield, the defending champion could have made it two but had a huge off coming out of Camp Corner, luckily escaping injury but damaging his usually immaculate all black machine. The B class had two wins for Peter Cooper and one for James Topliss who has secured runner up spot in the series behind Austin Lachlan.
125/250GP ACU National Championship | Backed by ACU, Dunlop and Hartsmere Logistics
Bruce Dunn came to Combe needing to get three wins to go to the top of the championship with one round left knowing that current series leader James Hind was still on the Isle of Man. Dunn, took three podiums including a win on his Bilstien/ SFT/HGV TZ 250 but Thomas Lawlor and Charlie Nesbitt also took wins in a series of races that saw also saw Rhys Hardisty in impressive form but crashing out of a race winning position….as did Charlie Nesbitt !. Dunn is 14 points off the top spot, so James Hind needs a top three at Oulton to take the 2019 National 250GP title. Travis Vince is starting to click with his TZ taking his maiden National podium after race long battles with Simon Hunt. Wins are like buses for John Hiorns on his Mr D Hiorns RS125 Honda as he took all three here after not troubling the top step previously.
ACU/FSRA F2 British Sidecar Championship.
This meeting saw NG host rounds of the prestigious national sidecar series. This weekend saw both wins going to Peter Founds with stand in passenger Jake Lowther on the platform after an injury to his regular partner Jevan Walmsley who was out with a broken heel. For the full story of this round check out : www.fsra.org.uk
Wiz Sliders Performance of the Meeting.
At every NG round one lucky rider is selected for the Wiz Sliders Performance award. The chosen one gets a special set of one-off sliders made by the Wiz guy's in Somerset. For this meeting it was young Welshman Joe Thomas for his sterling efforts on his SV650 Suzuki in the Mini Twins and Super Twins.
Clive and Pam Flood Performance Awards.
At Combe each year former NG competitor and class sponsor puts up a couple of special awards. The decision as to whom gets the nod is down to the commentary team…. after all they are the ones who see every lap of every race. On Saturday Nick Sansome got the nod whilst on Sunday F400 newcomer Martin Stutely was the chosen one.