Photography: Castle Combe Great & British

Lohen MINI | Castle Combe Dunlop Sport Maxx

This weekend I was at the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire shooting the Lohen team’s MINI. Lohen are this year competing in Class B of the Dunlop Sport Maxx Cup. Russian Driver Andrey Magiy is competing for the first year with only trackday experience, yet was leading the class coming into the Combe Weekend. Other categories racing include the Radical UK Cup, MINI Challenge UK, BMW CSL Cup, Autosport Young Guns, and others. My Gallery from the event is here. My views on the meeting are after the jump…..

Lohen’s Weekend

The Lohen team and their MINI had probably their most difficult weekend to date at Castle Combe. They picked up a 3rd place in class in race1, 2nd in race 2 (Thanks to Kevin George’s Corsa being taken out at the end of the race by an over eager Nissan 370z driver from Class A), and another 3rd in race 3. In all 3 races the Lohen MINI battled very hard with the Vauxhall Corsa of Kevin George (son of BTCC Independant Kevin), with frequent changes of position. They are competing in Class B of the Sport Maxx championship where cars are limited by a 160bhp/tonne limit, and performance equalisation is carried out as in the BTCC using ballast. They came into the meeting just leading the championship from Jordan Witt. Unfortunately Witt had written off his BMW 120D at the previous round in a freak spin at Pembrey (YouTube link). This was actually bad news for the other Class B competitors as Witt returned with a Renaultsport Megane that had completed the previous season in class A of the championship. Here power to weight is up at 210bhp/tonne. The championship gave Witt extra ballast to compensate, but it was clear from the times Witt set in qualifying (in a car he had never previously raced) that 3 class wins from the weekend could be a formality….. this proved to be the case! Hopefully the Megane will be heavily ballasted for the next round of the championship to give the others a chance.

The rest of the meeting

Although I was primarily shooting the Sport Maxx championship, the BARC Great & British meeting featured several other championships. The highlight of these was the Radical UK cup. These cars are extremely quick and the direction changes through Castle Combe’s two chicanes were pretty impressive. Overall though, the BARC package grid sizes were too small for club racing (the exceptions being the Radical races and MINI Challenge UK – premier class still small though). Times are tough but it is still a little disappointing. Castle Combe’s own Championships, namely the FFord 1600, Saloons and Special GT all had impressively large grids as usual. They are not as professional as the entrants in the Great & British races, but they still put on one heck of a show.

Something else worth mentioning as being sub-par was the organisation at Castle Combe for the meeting. There were a few large shunts during the weekend (fortunately nobody injured), but every one resulted in a safety car. I have quite literally never watched so many safety car laps in a weekend of motorsport. The problem, as I was told by many of the marshalls round the track, is the Castle Combe race director and recovery crews (tow trucks!). The excellent BARC marshalls, situated on Marshall posts around the circuit, are supposed to be responsible for requesting safety cars if one is needed because of a hazard near their post. It turned out many of the safety cars were in fact triggered by the Safety crew at Combes first corner (Quarry bend), and not the marshalls, who felt they could easily clear the incident under waved yellow flags. It seems Castle Combe do thing THEIR way, but it did ruin several good races.


More About Lohen

Lohen Logo

The Lohen team decided to go racing this year to promote their brand and to test the products that they sell in the tough world of racing. Their car is beautifully prepared and immaculately presented. They are the UK’s leading new MINI specialists, and have been voted as such for the past 3 years by the enthusiast readers of Modern MINI Magazine! They sell a huge range of performance aftermarket parts for both Gen.1 and Gen.2 variants of the new (BMW) MINI, and also offer excellent, proven packages of components, and have full workshop facilities. They are currently undergoing expansion and will soon also have a full Rolling Road facility. I use them for my car, and if you drive a MINI they are definitely worth a look! (and no I haven’t been paid or even asked to write this!!). Visit their website at www.lohen.co.uk

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