Lucas Romanek and Felix Fisher shared the spoils of victory in two contrasting Formula Ford 1600 contests from Castle Combe to Combe Carnival.
Oldfield Motorsport’s Romanek dominated the wet opener, before defending champion Fisher prevailed in much wetter conditions later in the day.
Since Ollie White won the penultimate race of 2021, every race has been won by a member of the Cooper or Fisher families. Felix Fisher won the 2021 final and the 2022 season opener, then his brother Josh won three in a row.
After that, Felix won five races and two-time champion Luke Cooper won two, and 2023 started with Felix winning four in a row. Cooper then did the double, and this weekend it was 665 days since White’s win.
Fisher and Cooper were upstaged in qualifying by BM Racing’s Romanek and Rory Smith, making his first appearance at Combe in five years.
Romanek took the first pole with a 1m10.725s, and his second fastest lap earned him the second pole. Smith finished his first FF1600 qualifying of the year 0.226 seconds behind Romanek, taking a top spot for both races.
Cooper and Fisher were nearly half a second off pole, with Cooper edging his third-place rival for both races by a tiny margin.
The rain before the start of the opening made configuration choices tricky, as the circuit was still mostly dry. Smith got off to the best start to lead Romanek, but the race was almost immediately flagged and restarted due to a minor three-car collision on the approach to Quarry involving Tom Hawkins, Kane Tilley and Vincent Jay.
Romanek made a better jaunt the second time around to lead Smith, and broke the tow early before pulling further and winning the race shortened by eight laps by 4.758 seconds.
Smith began to fall into the clutches of Cooper and Fisher, and the trio raced neck and neck through the second half of the race until Smith’s resistance was broken on the final lap.
Cooper made Quarry’s best outing to close in and then grab second place ahead of the Esses, with Fisher taking third before the checkered flag..
Race two was hit by heavy downpours, with the peloton struggling with wheelspin off the line. One of the hardest hit was Tom Nippers, who got bogged down from the fourth row of the grid, with those behind managing to avoid him.
Smith led Quarry de Fisher, who jumped from fourth to second. Romanek slipped to fourth behind Cooper, with the top two pulling an early gap.
Fisher made an inside move to take the lead from Quarry on lap four, but Smith was able to hold on. Meanwhile, Cooper broke away from Romanek, who struggled in the first half of the race, and the Swift-Cooper rider quickly closed in on the front two.
Smith suffered wheel spin on the pavement on the way out of Camp on lap six, allowing Fisher to close in and then take the lead toward Avon Rise.
Fisher was unable to clear after that, with Smith applying pressure in the closing stages. However, the TM Racing driver was able to stay ahead to win by 0.491 seconds and extend his points lead over Cooper, who was narrowly third.
Romanek found more pace as conditions improved, but was unable to clear a two-second deficit and came in fourth to keep his own title hopes alive.
Mitchell beat Attwood into fifth place by seconds, with Nathan Ward losing the pair and eventually finishing eighth behind Sam Street.
The owner of the eponymous team, Wayne Poole, made a surprise return at the wheel of a Van Diemen RF89. The 2000 Class B CCRC FF1600 champion went from 19th to 12th in the first race, but retired with a problem in the follow-up.
Overview of results
Race 1 (8 laps)
1 Lucas Romanek Oldfield Motorsport 9m35.731s
2 Luke Cooper Swift Cooper +4.758s
3 Felix FisherTM Racing +5.681s
4 Rory SmithBM Racing +5.982s
5 Ben Mitchell Wayne Poole Racing +11.830s
6 Kieran Attwood Souley Motorsport +13.683s
7 Sam Swift Cooper Street +14.885s
8 Nathan Ward Kevin Mills Racing +15.116s
9 Charlie Mann Mann Motorsport +17.014s
10 David Cobbold Souley Motorsport +22.517s
Pole vault: Romanek, 1m10.725s
Fastest lap: Romanek, 1m10.877s
Race 2 (10 laps)
1 Fisherman 13m49.620s
2 Blacksmith +0.491s
3 Cooper +0.986s
4 Romaneks +3.131s
5 Mitchell +21.452s
6 Attwood +23.461s
7 Street +24.425s
8 Quarter +28.488s
9 Cobbold +30.395s
10 Tom Clips +34.247s
P: Romanek, 1m10.793s
FL: Fisherman, 1m21.241s
1 Fisherman 176 2 Cooper 168 3 Michael 136 4 Romanek 115 5 Neighborhood 102 6 Attwood 100 7 Street 88 8 Tom Hawkin 85 9 Cobbold 82 ten Adam Higgin 81