Castle Coombe - 19th June 2010


Picture re-produced with kind permission of VF Racing

Pre Race

Darren was looking forward to Castle Coombe as it is one of his favourite circuits to spectate at. The crowds are always large and the racing full of excitement. He also completed his ARDS test here.

On the car front little work needed completing between Snetterton and Castle Coombe with some basic maintenance taking place (fluids, brakes etc.). The only major alteration was the fitment of a standard Subaru exhaust as the noise monitoring is very strict there and the car was showing 105db at Snetterton so it was thought better to err on the side of caution.


Picture re-produced with kind permission of VF Racing

The track conditions were dry and the weather warm and sunny for the qualifying session. With the size of field there were numerous Mazda MX5’s and Toyota MR2’s to contend with.

There was not much space for a clear lap and Darren suffered from traffic on every fast lap attempt. The session was curtailed with a red flag when an MR2 dumped a load of oil on the track at Tower corner.

A disappointing and frustrating session saw a lowly grid position of 14th place. Darren had some work to do in the race as the other Subaru Cup cars of Martin White and a flying Adrian Howells were in front of him.

Race 1

Darren had a reasonable start getting the better of Luke Bennett in the Integra. However there were no further opportunities on the run up to Quarry as Martin White had been blocked by slower starting cars in front which in turn blocked Darren

Darren was on the tail of Martin White and Rob Jefferies, in his mk1 MR2 Turbo. Martin soon dispatch Rob with a lunge into the Esses on lap 3. However Darren could not find a way past until lap 7 into Quarry with a bold move the led to a fine drift being held!

With Martin White long gone Darren only had to contend with Luke Bennett in his Integra who was pressing for most of the race but failed to find a way past even with some brave braking into Bobbies.

Results –

Overall – 8th
Subaru Cup – 3rd

Race 2

A better starting position for Darren after some competitors fell by the wayside in race one. Martin White’s bad luck struck again with a puncture on the way to the grid meaning he could not take the start. This left a nice gap beside Darren and only people ahead to contend with.

From the start Darren managed to get alongside the Nissan of Steve Burke but his monster AP brakes saw him take Quarry ahead. Rob Jefferies had a couple of nibbles on the first lap but did not manage to take the position.

Darren was now in 6th position and a large gap developed to Rob Jefferies and Stuart Hutchinson’s Integra behind. However after 5 laps the gearbox oil started to overheat leading to difficulties changing gear and some missed gear changes ensued.

Hutchinson’s Integra gradually reeled in the Impreza and on lap 7 Hutchinson gained the place into Quarry, but was not handed it on a plate with Darren pressing him on the outside to the Esses.

The rest of the race was a mixture of Mazda and MR2 lapping which ended with Darren taking 6th position.


Overall – 6th
Subaru Cup – 2nd


A disappointing weekend for Darren who expected some better results than he obtained. There appears to be more work to do in getting the car on Adrian Howell’s 2010 pace. Darren misses the next round at Lydden due to holiday commitments and will be working hard to get the car faster at Cadwell in August.

Snetterton May 30th 2010


Since Mallory there has been a concentration of effort on the handling front. The suspension bushes have been up-rated by Paul at Arden Bridge Subaru and the geometry tweaked and corner weighting performed courtesy of PowerStation in Tewkesbury. This has given a base line to work from for the rest of the season.

The weather on arrival at the circuit on Saturday and Sunday can only be described as wet. However thanks to the late start it dried up on Sunday to reveal glorious sunshine for the qualifying. The late start presented the opportunity to get the car scrutineered early. All that can be said is that the car will need something a little quieter on the exhaust front for Castle Coombe!


With the alterations to Sear and the curbing at various places Darren took the first few laps cautiously to re-learn the circuit and test the lines required for the alterations. After a few laps the times came down as did the fuel load and with the tyres warming up nicely started to push a little more. However in the middle of the qualifying allowing Vaughan Fletcher past in his flying Subaru and catching the MR2 Nick Jones meant that a few slow laps were required to gain some space. With the clock ticking it was time for a final push and Darren clocked a fastest time of 1:23.602 to gain him 5th position for the race a mere 27 hundredths behind Steve Burkes Nissan.

Race 1

Darren was confident that he could gain some positions off the start utilising his four wheel drive launch. This turned out to be true and launched past the Nissan of Burke and the Integra of Paul Hughes to 3rd position. The leading duo of Subaru’s in the GT300 Class of Vaughan and Froggatt were involved in a great battle between themselves for several laps which meant that Darren did not loose sight of them. More worryingly was the Nissan and the Integra of Burke and Hughes behind looming big in the mirrors. on Lap 5 after a poor exit at Sear Burke managed to get a nose in front down the straight. Darren, unfortunately, slight missed his braking point under the bridge and to avoid hitting Burke on the racing line took to the escape road. The engine momentarily died and meant that upon regaining the circuit left him in 7th position some distance behind Stewart Hutchinson and with Martin White not far behind in the second position Subaru Cup car. However Darren held this position and finished 1st in class for the first time.

Result -

Subaru Cup - 1st Position
Overall - 7th Position

Race 2

A race of two halves! Whilst sat in the assembly area the rain started to fall. This turned into a steady stream by the time we formed up for the start. With Martin White along side me it was looking like the Honda's and Nissan in front were due a four wheel drive onslaught from the start. From the start Martin managed a clear run up the outside to the first corner but the Integra’s left no room for Darren this time round. The rain became heavier and the Silverstone tyres were starting to loose substantial amounts of grip on the wet, but not sodden surface. The little civic of Richard Johnson was flying and squeezed past on lap 4. The conditions worsened and unfortunately a red flag after a coming together of White and Hughes ended the race, for now! We returned to the grid to wait to see what was happening. the heavens opened and the track became a lake. the grid were told that there was to be two green flag laps and then a 6 minute race. When the grid was re-formed Darren was surprised to be placed 4th behind Fletcher, Hutchinson and Burke with Johnson 5th. I can only presume the positions were taken at the lap before the accident or based on the original starting positions of the remaining field. On the second restart the wet conditions lead to excessive wheelspin from the start for Darren and only managed to get past Burke. During the 6 minutes Burke in his Nissan and Lee Bennet-Neal in his Integra all appeared in the mirrors but dropped back after what appeared to be slippery moments. Darren posted 2nd fastest time in the wet but once again Johnson in the civic loomed large in the mirrors on what turned out to be the final lap. Darren achieved another 1st position in the Subaru Cup but a magnificent 3rd overall, the second time this car has achieved this but a first for Darren.


Subaru cup - 1st Position
Overall - 3rd Position

Darren was very pleased his and the car's performance. The car now seems to be pretty much on the money for a standard specification that the Subaru Cup requires and for the Nippon Challenge appears to be very competitive. Darren is hoping that, noise permitting, Castle Coombe, his favourite circuit to watch at and where he took his ARDS test, will yield good performance and results.

About Darren Hughes

  • Darren has previously helped prepare racing cars for his friend Karen for the MR2 Challenge and Nippon Challenge series. This will be his forth season in racing having successfully completed three years with excellent results in 2010 and narrowly missing out on the title. In 2012 Darren was forced to take a break from racing due to budget constraints but this year he will be competing again in the same race series, sponsored by Arden Bridge Subaru and will be looking to take the top step of the podium regularly.
  • Please check this site regularly for updates on Darren's preparations and his progress throughout the season.

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