Race 5 '09 - Castle Combe
The penultimate race meeting of the year for the British Superkart Association took place at Castle Combe race circuit, near Chippenham this weekend (8th and 9th August). Motors TV coverage were on hand to cover the 125cc and MSA British 250cc Superkart Championship, thanks to the support of RG Racing and Pro Clean. With the points very close at the top of the table all the drivers were looking for a good outing to secure their championship positions at the 90mph average Castle Combe circuit.
Ben Willshire would be representing the RG Racing team in his 125cc Anderson SGM outfit and looking to protect his 4th place in the British Championship. After some engine and chassis refinements in the week prior to this race meeting, it was evident that the work had paid dividends as Willshire went 2nd quickest in free practice behind front runner Lee Morgan. Qualifying was not to be the same story however as the bumps of the Castle Combe circuit took its toll on Willshire's superkart, breaking the seat mounts and forcing him to retire from the session. However, the Basingstoke based driver managed to put in one flying lap and was good enough for 5th on the grid.
With the seat repaired, Willshire lined up 5th for race 1 and after lap one found himself up into 3rd position behind regular front runners Lee Morgan and Louise Colin. Morgan stretched his lead and broke the tow from Willshire and Colin to take the win, leaving the rest to fight for 2nd place. Willshire looked a threat to Colin for the first 4 laps but eventually had to settle for 3rd place as Colin slowly broke away; a good start to the day and a solid podium finish.
Race 2 saw Willshire line up 3rd on the grid. This seasons 125 ICC UK Cup winner, Chris Needham, was keen to get in on the action after a Race 1 retirement and got the jump on Willshire as the karts raced towards the 115mph Avon rise on Lap 1. Willshire tucked into 4th behind Morgan, Colin and Needham and settled into a fast race pace waiting for the 3 front runners to make an error. Morgan pulled away from the pack as in race 1, securing his lead and Needham and Colin began to stretch a 3 to 4 second gap from Willshire.
It began to look like Willshire would have to settle for 4th place but an outstanding last 2 laps and a good use of slipstreaming from some of the 250cc powered machines saw him pull back a 3 second gap and he was suddenly tailing the rear of Needham's kart and pushing for 3rd place. On the penultimate lap, Willshire made the move on Needham over Avon rise and took 3rd position comfortably. Colin was now insight with 1 lap remaining and 2nd place was imminent. As Willshire and Colin started their final lap Willshire tucked in behind Colin across the start line and took a tow into Avon rise and made a brave move to the inside of Quarry corner to take 2nd place. Morgan took the win with Willshire managing to hang on to 2nd across the line, whilst Needham jumped into 3rd and Colin took 4th.
The result at Castle Combe gave Willshire 2nd overall in the British Championship rounds on the day and appear to have consolidated his 4th place in the 2009 British Championship. Willshire also took part in the 125cc Club race on the Sunday, supporting a round of the 250cc British Championship. He took pole in qualifying by 5 seconds followed by two wins, lapping an average of 3 seconds per lap faster than his nearest rival on the day!
The last rounds of this year's Championship take place at Mallory Park in September where Willshire will look for two solid finishes to secure 4th overall this season. Footage of the action from Castle Combe can be seen on Motors TV shortly - dates to be announced.
A special thanks to Phil Featherstone of PFP and RG Racing in the hard work for preparing for Castle Combe.