Professional race preparation and management

Reports > CCRC Howards Day Castle Combe 18th April 2022

Fisher wins to start 2022 strongly and class wins for Ben Mitchell

The start of the 2022 Castle Combe season took place on Easter Monday in warm and sunny conditions. The Wayne Poole racing team had four Formula Fords running in three different classes. After a sabbatical (apart for an outing at the Walter Hayes) in 2021, former Combe champion, Josh Fisher, was back in the Richard Hudson-Evans owned and Classic Auction Review backed Van Diemen Jl14. Josh was joined by James Colborn in another Class A Van Diemen (an RF07) who was moving up from the Class C Van Diemen RF88 that he had used for the previous couple of seasons. Steve Bracegirdle was back in his familiar Van Diemen RF89 and was joined by Ben Mitchell, having an occasional outing in Richard Hudson-Evans' historic, but fast, Merlyn MK20.

With two races scheduled, the fastest and second fastest times in practice would determine the grids for the two races. Far from being rusty, Josh was quickly on the pace and secured pole for both races with times in the low 1m 10s after only 4 and 5 laps running. Ben was also quickly up to speed and qualified the Merlyn in the top 10 with James a little further back and finding that the Class A car was quite a different proposition to his previous mount and he was at the start of a steep learning curve. Steve qualified second in Class C for both races.

At the start of Race 1 Josh was beaten off the line by brother, Felix but took the lead on Lap 3 and was holding a small but comfortable lead until Lap 7 when an uncharacteristic spin dropped him to sixth, not being able to get back running as quickly as he would have liked. He quickly caught the group battling for third but ran out of laps, finishing fifth. Ben made a strong start and ran for most of the race in ninth where he finished, easily winning Class D with fastest lap. James was not making the best of starts in his new car, but following some advice from Josh, improved his lap times from practice by over a second and was happy to come home in 13th. Steve had a quiet race to finish 16th and take second in Class C.

Race 2 saw Josh make no mistakes and with the Van Diemen JL14 running faultlessly, he took the lead on Lap 2 and, despite losing it briefly on Lap 6, he re-took it to finish more than half a second clear of his brother at the end. Ben repeated his Race 1 performance with a seventh place finish, class win and fastest lap. Although lacking the outright pace of the Class A cars (in which he scored a notable podium in the 2021 Walter Hayes) Ben was throughly enjoying the old Merlyn which was a joy to drive. James had another difficult start and ran the early laps in company with Steve before pulling ahead with the pair finishing 12th and Steve taking another second in class. Steve had also been out with his Mini Cooper in the Hot Hatch races and was wondering if he should concentrate on one car but reported that he had scored 'the result of his career' by holding off a fast closing Simon Hadfield by 0.2s!

Thanks to Mike Stokes for his excellent set of images.