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HRDC is Castle Combe Season Opener on 28th March

The Castle Combe Circuit's 2012 season gets under way by going back in time to the era of the late 1950's and early '60's, with 'Historica' race day on Easter Monday, April 9.

The Historic Racing Drivers Club with its highly professional approach and enviously regarded catalogue of well supported races, presents a marvellous array of machinery to delight the crowds in tribute to Alan Mann, who sadly passed away on 21 March.

Five HRDC races encompass some of the best historic racing cars and drivers imaginable, with the headline 'Touring Greats' for Pre-'60 touring cars just one of the highlights.

Many of the cars seem unlikely competition contenders, but the rules are specifically written to attract the likes of the Hillman Minx, Rover 105S, Borgward Isabella, Standard Vanguard and Daimler Conquest. A full grid bodes well for a superb race.

The slightly more modern 'TC63' for pre-'64 cars is equally diverse, with such gems as a Mercedes Benz 300SE, Studebaker Lark Daytone 500, Vauxhall VX4/90 and the MG Magnette of HRDC founder Julius Thurgood. The race is dedicated to the memory of the late Alan Mann.

Ted Williams from Nailsea, a veteran of Castle Combe and historic racing generally, swops from an AC Cobra shared with son Mark to his Austin Healey 3000 in the 45 minute 'GTS65' race for pre-'66 historic sports cars. Another Williams - Barry 'Whizzo'- is amongst the opposition. The legendary Whizzo will be sharing a Porsche 904/6 with Richard Frankel. The Morgan Plus 4SLR of Keith Ahlers should be interesting, but American muscle may rule if the day is dry.

The 'Grand Touring Greats' for sub 1500cc cars provides one of the most interesting races with a huge field of mainly 'Sprite' based specials including three wonderful WSM cars, one of which is driven by former FISC European champion, Ian Hulett. Barrie Williams gets another ride in an Ashley GT and there's even the Le Mans prototype car from 1966. The main opposition for the BMC based cars comes from the Alfas, including the Giulietta SS, with the Williams/Frankel partnership again behind the wheel.

In this the 50th anniversary year of the MGB, it's fitting to welcome the first 'MGB50' race to Castle Combe, with a number of stunning cars, including the fast 1963 'Roadster' of James Cottingham and a WSM GT.

Equally entertaining will be the usual trio of races from the circuit's own stable, with the Castle Combe Sports and GT championship receiving a welcome injection from Vadabar International. It's M.D., Doug Watson from Blagdon, is wheeling out his new BMW E63 M6, a 5 litre, V10 monster, in the modified road car class, his opposition including the husband and wife team of Brian & Ilsa Cox in their pair of SEAT Leons.

The' big banger' unlimited capacity sports racing cars are also back this year, none bigger than the 7 litre Chevrolet engined Aquila of Salisbury's Nigel Mustill. Making his debut in the less modified Class D is Swindon's Dan Ludlow, making a transition to a Caterham Superlight from being a front runner in various MGs. Back to defend his title, which he also carried off in 2009, is Simon Tilling from Vernham Dean in his Radical SR3, with the likes of Bath drivers, Guy Parr and Des Andrews in their respective Nemesis and Megahart and Wrington's Darcy Smith in his Radical SR4, looking to get a piece of the action.

Spectators have an opportunity to get close to the drivers and cars from the championship with a grid walkabout from mid-day.

Guy Parr will have a busy day as he has also entered the Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship supported by National Mobile Windscreens. A year later than planned, Parr will be out in the Fiesta which took Jason Cooper to the 2009 title. He will have his work cut out in Class B though as 2008 champion, Will Di Claudio from Chippenham, is back after a year off. His Peugeot 106 is likely to be super fast, making him one of the odds-on favourites for 2012. Bristol's Mark Wyatt will be looking to add to his collection of class titles with his Astra, his overall championship ambitions somewhat in the hands of his opponents such as reigning champion, Tony Dolley from Bridgwater, always a threat in his Peugeot 206. Trowbridge's Mark Funnell will be the man to beat if it rains, with his Mini Cooper S and Burton's Rob Ballard is back with his SEAT Cupra which brought him a win last year. Kevin Bird from Ditcheat brings out his unique BMW 130i M-Sport with a year's development behind it.

As if that level of competition was not enough, the championship also welcomes back Southampton's Adam Prebble in the elderly but super quick Rover 220 Turbo, whilst returning to the fray after some absence is Cirencester's Lloyd Allard in the Allard Motor Sport Golf TDi-R, the only diesel car competing that day. Also VW mounted is Bath's Angus Gorringe in his new Polo GTi. Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird from Shepton Mallet has his Fiesta in the under 1.4 litre class.

Saltford's Steven Jensen is back with his best ever chance of taking the Castle Combe Formula Ford 1600 championship, though Easter Monday will be his first outing in his Spectrum 011C after his spectacular accident in it last year. Nick Jones, from Chepstow, is in a similar car, whilst the young chargers Roger Orgee from Langport in the Van Diemen RF00 and Luke Cooper from Yatton Keynell in the Swift SC10, will be as eager as ever. Bob Higgins, the former quadruple FF1600 champion from Bath, makes it a family affair by entering a Van Diemen RF2012 in Class A with son Adam from Chippenham buoyed up from winning Class B last year in his RF94. Brother Richard, from Burnham on Sea, completes the Riadro trio of Van Diemens with his RF90. Making a return to the series is Tewkesbury's Paul Barnes in a Swift SC93, his best previous result being 3rd in the championship in 2005.

Monday's action starts at 8.35 am with qualifying, racing getting under way from 12.40 pm.

Admission prices are yet again held from last year at £15 for Adults, £7.50 for OAPs, £2.50 for Paddock Transfer, whilst accompanied children under 16 are admitted free. For further information, visit the Castle Combe Circuit online at www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk, Facebook or Twitter.

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