Lucas Romanek and Felix Fisher shared the victory spoils during two contrasting Castle Combe Formula Ford 1600 contests at the Combe Carnival.
Oldfield Motorsport’s Romanek dominated the damp opener, before reigning champion Fisher prevailed in much wetter conditions later in the day.
Since Ollie White won the penultimate race of 2021, every single race has been won by a member of the Cooper or Fisher families. Felix Fisher won the 2021 finale and 2022 season opener, then brother Josh won three in a row.
Following 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 coming into this weekend it had been 665 days since White’s win.
Fisher and Cooper were upstaged in qualifying by Romanek and B-M Racing’s Rory Smith, making his first Combe appearance in five years.
Romanek took race one pole with a 1m10.725s, and his second-best lap earned him race two pole. Smith ended his first FF1600 qualifying of the year 0.226 seconds shy of Romanek, taking a front-row spot for both races.
Cooper and Fisher were almost half a second shy of pole, with Cooper edging his rival to third for both races by a tiny margin.
Rain before the start of the opener made for some tricky set-up choices, with the circuit still predominantly dry. Smith made the better start to lead Romanek, but the race was almost immediately red-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 getaway second time around to lead Smith, and crucially broke the tow early on before pulling further clear and winning the shortened eight-lap race by 4.758s.
Smith started to fall into the clutches of Cooper and Fisher, and the trio ran nose-to-tail in the race’s second half until Smith’s resistance was broken on the final lap.
Cooper made the better exit from Quarry to draw alongside and then snatch second before the Esses, with Fisher moving into third before the chequered flag.
Race two was hit with heavy showers, with the field struggling with wheelspin off the line. One of those worst affected was Tom Nippers, who bogged down from the grid’s fourth row, with those behind managing to avoid him.
Smith led into Quarry from Fisher, who vaulted from fourth to second. Romanek slipped to fourth behind Cooper, with the top two pulling an early gap.
Fisher made a move up the inside for the lead at Quarry on lap four, but Smith was able to hold on. Cooper meanwhile broke clear of Romanek, who struggled in the race’s first half, and the Swift-Cooper driver soon closed in on the front two.
Smith suffered wheelspin on the kerb exiting Camp on lap six, allowing Fisher to draw alongside and then take the lead heading into Avon Rise.
Fisher was not able to break clear after that, with Smith applying pressure in the closing stages. However, the TM Racing driver was able to remain in front to win by 0.491s and extend his points lead over Cooper, who was close behind in third.
Romanek found more pace as conditions improved, but was not able to eradicate a two-second deficit and came home fourth to keep his own title hopes alive.
Mitchell beat Attwood to fifth by a couple of seconds, with Nathan Ward losing out the pair and eventually finishing eighth behind Sam Street.
Eponymous team owner Wayne Poole made a surprise return behind the wheel in a Van Diemen RF89. The 2000 Class B CCRC FF1600 champion climbed from 19th to 12th in race one, but retired with an issue in the sequel.
Race 1 (8 laps)
1 Lucas Romanek Oldfield Motorsport 9m35.731s
2 Luke Cooper Swift Cooper +4.758s
3 Felix Fisher TM Racing +5.681s
4 Rory Smith B-M Racing +5.982s
5 Ben Mitchell Wayne Poole Racing +11.830s
6 Kieran Attwood Souley Motorsport +13.683s
7 Sam Street Swift Cooper +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: Romanek, 1m10.725s
Fastest lap: Romanek, 1m10.877s
Race 2 (10 laps)
1 Fisher 13m49.620s
2 Smith +0.491s
3 Cooper +0.986s
4 Romanek +3.131s
5 Mitchell +21.452s
6 Attwood +23.461s
7 Street +24.425s
8 Ward +28.488s
9 Cobbold +30.395s
10 Tom Nippers +34.247s
P: Romanek, 1m10.793s
FL: Fisher, 1m21.241s
1 Fisher 176 2 Cooper 168 3 Mitchell 136 4 Romanek 115 5 Ward 102 6 Attwood 100 7 Street 88 8 Tom Hawkins 85 9 Cobbold 82 10 Adam Higgins 81