Castle Combe Autumn Classic JEC Pre 66 Norman Dewis Trophy Jaguar Race

JEC Jaguar XK Race Series 2020

Saturday 3rd October saw the return of our Pre-1966 Jaguars again at Castle Combe for the annual JEC Pre 66 Norman Dewis Trophy Jaguar Race.

Report by Chris Robinson, Photos by Chris & Nick Gage


It was a very different annual Castle Combe Classic race meeting for 2020, the normally packed spectator banks were empty and all the car club displays that normally fill the outer field areas of the circuit were sparce even the paddock area was not as full as previous years, the normally buzzing café itself was a conveyor like line becoming a take away, Covid has certainly impacted racing like so many other events. Nevertheless, the racing was set in place and qualifying started early on the Saturday morning.

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Qualifying

As predicted the weather was rain and more rain and with already depleted field the remaining seventeen cars took to a very wet track and outfield for a twenty-minute qualifying session. With the exciting mix of cars in ranging from four XKs, six Mk1s, two Mk2s, four E Types and a single C Type it promised to be a session of differing performances.

With visibility poor for spectating one can only imagine what conditions were like for the drivers. In addition, the Covid restrictions resulted in the best spectating areas were not available and only viewing from the paddock area was allowed for competitors and club officials.

All competitors were very tentative for the first few laps with the more experienced

drivers eventually picking up the pace to complete the session that was held up while recovery of the Mk1 of Benjit Dhesi that had come to a halt at Quarry with fuel supply problems.

The very experienced and quick Alex Buncombe in an E Type FHC took pole in a time of 1:25.638 from an equally experienced John Young in Nigel Webb’s IVA 400 Mk1 with a time of 1:33.116 and a very impressive third on the grid for Geoff Ottley in his XK120 DHC, at the other end of the field the new drivers of Simon Aldridge, Benjit Dhesi and Roger Woodbridge all performed well in the tricky conditions.

Philip Wrigley And Nigel Webb Cg
Barcley Leads Pearson
Nigel Webb
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The Race

With slightly improved conditions on track but not for spectating the race start was as expected dominated by Alex Buncombe with John Young in pursuit and both the E Type of Mark Russell and the XK150S of Andrew Keith-Lucas getting the jump on Geoff Ottley in the XK120 on lap one.

Benjit Dhesi was straight into the pits at the end of lap one with what was learned later was just to be his wiper blade had fallen off, a frantic crew rectifying the problem he returned to the track all be it a couple of laps down.

While Alex Buncombe and John Young went off into the distance, Buncombe lapping seven to eight seconds faster they were pursued by the XK of Andrew Keith-Lucas, and Mark Russell and Michael Wrigley both in E Types, Geoff Ottley the XK120 was putting in an impressive drive by staying well in touch with the chasing pack.

The next tier was an intriguing Mk1 saloon battle, headed by Nigel Webb in the Lister Mk1 closely followed by Tom Barclay and Glen Pearson, positions changing several until Nigel Webb headed for the pits on lap eight and sadly into retirement also suffering from loss of windscreen wipers, Michael Wrigley also retiring his E Type on lap eight, allowing Derek Pearce in his MK2 to join the three car saloon battle with another racing group of Mark Hews (XK), Micheal O’Shea (E Type) Paul Pochciol (C Type) and David Hall (MK2) not far behind him.

Unfortunately, Pochciol clipped one of the Tyre stacks damaging the C Type and forcing him into retirement on lap fourteen, thankfully the damage was not too serious.

Towards the rear our newcomers were doing a tremendous job of learning the car craft required to race in the wet. Both in MK1 saloons and both having only done one race prior and joined in the novice ranks by the XK120 of Roger Woodbridge. All three ran the full race distance, the only near moment being Dhesi in the lovely bright red MK1 getting too close to the grass and spinning round a number of times in the sodded infield before coming to a standstill, the next issue being getting traction to get back onto the tarmac, this he eventually did and managing to run to the finish.

With thirty minutes elapsed Alex Buncombe came home in the white E Type having completed nineteen laps and lapping the entire field, John Young in the Mk1 followed him home and with Andrew Keith-Lucas completing the podium places, all three being class winners, Geoff Ottley and Derek Pearce winning the two remaining classes.

A difficult race to watch and to report on due to the rain and spray, and not least due to the current restriction’s race result sheets were not being issued, however an impromptu presentation was made to as you would expect all class winners.

The Best Presented Car award went to Glen Pearson with his white Mk1.

The Driver of The Day award went to the second-place man John Young.

The Norman Dewis Trophy for 2020 was awarded to Geoff Ottley. Geoff has raced the same car from his very first race at Silverstone in 1984, living in Dorset Geoff still drives the car to the circuit for the race and then home from the circuit after the race, which is very rare these days.

Chris Robinson

JEC Competitions Secretary

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