Race Report – Castle Combe 5th May


Image used with kind permission of Lance Wittenberg

The Track Attack Race Club (TARC) Bank Holiday meeting at Castle Combe had combined Nippon Challenge and Tricolore Trophy grids. This meant the grid was going to be pretty packed and qualifying was going to be a bit of a lottery.

By getting to the Assembly Area early, Karen was at the front of the queue to go out for qualifying. This helped Karen give the engine a decent warm up and get the Federal tyres up to some kind of temperature before pushing on. Qualifying was still tricky but Karen managed to qualify 5th out the Nippon Challenge cars.

Race 1 saw Karen make a reasonable start and she'd made a couple of places by half way around the 1st lap, but the Tricolore cars were just too light and powerful. They were soon making a break for the distance. On the 2nd lap, Karen was annoyed to be overtaken by a Tricolore car under waved yellow flags. The car's pace was obvious, but the driver should have waited until the incident was clear. Karen was then left trying to fend off Jon Winter's rapid Clio which she did, as well as overhauling a Citroen Saxo. Jon was now being harried by a couple of MX5s and so the pressure on Karen was reduced a little. She made her best efforts to make an escape, hitting the rev-limiter in top gear along the stretch up to Avon Rise! That's how things remained until the end of the race. Karen finished 1st in GT300 class and 4th in the Nippon Challenge.

Image used with kind permission of InMotionImages

Race 2 saw Karen make another good start and she out accelerated one of the Clios off the line. However, the Super GT MR2 Mk1 had a storming start from the back of the gird and he was soon right behind Karen. The Clio nipped back in front at the Esses. Karen spotted the MR2 Mk1 making a lunge at Bobbies and she went offline to prevent contact. Another MR2 Mk1 followed him and so Karen was down another two places! 

She quickly dispatched the normal MR2 down the main straight and began hunting down the Super GT version. She blew past him at Hammerdown and was then left fending off the MX5 of Kevin Middleton. Soon, Kevin was joined by another MX5 and Karen was now keeping a decent distance ahead of them for a couple of laps. They then got pretty close, helped by having to allow the lapping lead car through. It was just after this that race was stopped due to an incident near the start line. Jon Lord had rolled his Toyota Celica coming out of Camp Corner. It was a nasty incident, but Jon quickly made his escape from the car and was virtually unscathed. Karen was classified 1st in GT300 class and 3rd in the Nippon Challenge!

That was Karen's best ever finishing position in the Nippon Challenge so far and her first podium finish. Unfortunately, due to the combined grids it wasn't a true overall podium and so Karen missed out on the glory of a ride around the circuit waving to the crowd in the special Castle Combe converted car.

Straight line pace in Karen's car is great, but the Federal tyres take a few laps to warm up and even then they just don't seem to have the grip levels of the Silverstone tyres used previously. It may be down to the compound of the tyres which are medium rather than soft. This was to help them last during longer Classic Sports Car Club races. Plans are now in place to fit a shift light in an effort to prevent hitting the rev-limiter. That had robbed Karen of the opportunity to overtake more cars at the start of each race. In addition it should help improve gear selection throughout the races.

About Karen Phillips

  • Karen races her Impreza WRX in the Classic and Sports Car Club (CSCC) Modern Classics series, with her husband Richard as a 2nd Driver. The races are mini-endurance events involving a driver-swap. Karen has previously raced in the Nippon Challenge, a race series for Japanese and Asian cars. Karen has been racing since 2006, having started in the MR2 Challenge.
  • Please check this site regularly for updates on Karen's progress through the season and developments with her race car.

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