Bruce Winfield steals race one victory at Castle Combe

Bruce Winfield secured victory in the opening TCR UK Championship race of the weekend at Castle Combe after heartache for Adam Shepherd at the final corner.

There was drama at the start when pole sitter Chris Smiley failed to get away when the lights went out, with Shepherd instead storming into the lead aheas of Winfield and a fast-starting Brad Hutchison, with everyone managing to avoid Smiley’s Honda as he dropped back down towards the rear of the field.

Bradley Kent was also slow away from the second row of the grid to plummet down the order in his Hyundai, with Jac Constable also running into issues off the line.

As the field streamed up towards Quarry for the first time, Shepherd had a handy lead at the front but that was quickly eradicated when the safety car was deployed as a result of Jamie Tonks going off at speed into the tyres on the outside of the circuit.

Tonks was able to climb from his Cupra as the field circulated under caution before the action resumed, with Shepherd leading the way from Winfield and Hutchison, with Isaac Smith having moved up to fourth and Jess Hawkins having avoided the drama ahead to run fifth.

Hawkins would be overhauled by Max Hart shortly after the restart as he looked to recover from his issues in qualifying, and the JamSport driver then set about trying to find a way ahead of Smith’s Volkswagen, with Hutchison just ahead as the leading duo started to break away in front.

However, as Hart tried to find a way through, he ran wide onto the grass on the twelfth lap before the Hyundai slowed and heading into the pits – leaving Smith free to focus on Hutchison in the fight for third.

At the front, Shepherd was able to edge away from Winfield and looked to be cruising to victory until the final corner when a front left failure saw his car slow and run wide across the grass – enabling Winfield to nip through and grab an unexpected victory.

“You want to win because you’ve earned it and that’s not ideal for my team-mate but it’s a victory,” Winfield said. “I came into the final corner and he was on the grass so fair play to him for getting second.”

Shepherd would have enough in hand over the fight for third spot to cross the line in second spot, with Hutchison taking third spot for his maiden podium finish at the wheel of the Audi.

“I had such a gap I was managing the pace and avoiding the kerbs,” Shepherd said. “I was just managing it home and into the final corner, I hit the brakes and it just went.”

Smith followed Hutchison home in fourth, with Smiley benefitting from the safety car to catch up with the field before storming through the pack to fifth; the former BTCC racer making the most of his experience with a series of impressive overtakes in the Honda.

Smiley would also set the fastest lap as he finished just six tenths of a second behind Smith, with Hawkins, Callum Newsham and Alex Ley rounding out the top ten.

Constable recovered well from his early issue to take the flag in ninth, with Scott Sumpton securing tenth place to grab the reverse grid pole.

Aside from Tonks and Hart, both Kent brothers were forced to pull into the pits to retire, with the Subaru of Ant Whorton-Eales and Darelle Wilson’s Vauxhall also unable to make the finish.