BRITISH HILLCLIMB REPORTS
Current Reports Report Archive
Event 15 at Loton Park on 24/09/2023
With the British Championship done and dusted and his Gould already in the throes of a rebuild, Wallace Menzies had opted not to attend Loton’s BHC finale weekend. But in his absence, and with Championship top ten positions still to be decided, the competition was as fierce as ever. And with this weekend scheduled to be his last in top level hillclimbing for the foreseeable future, Scott Moran was looking to bow out on a high. It would be a busy weekend for the six-time champion, as he was also driving his father Roger’s Skoda rally car which was a strong contender for the final two rounds of the BHC Tin Top Challenge, so there was a strong chance that Scott could be competing in four run-offs on the same day!
That’s exactly how it turned out, but in British Championship terms it was the dynamic Matt Ryder that would deny Scott a ninth win of the season by relegating him to second place by a quarter of a second in the opening run-off. Once again demonstrating huge potential for his 2024 season, Ryder was on top form at Loton, going on to win the second shoot-out as well, ahead of an inspired Will Hall. Scott was not destined to go out with a win, as a small mistake at Museum was enough to demote him to fourth place, so close was the competition.
After a few lean weekends, Trevor Willis hit his best form since finishing runner-up at Bouley Bay with a strong third place in the opening run-off. He slipped to sixth later on but still gained a place on the Championship table despite Sean Gould, one point ahead going into Loton, finishing a strong third behind Hall But the Gould constructor, running early on in the morning’s damp conditions, had missed the opening cut. With only one score on the day, he would concede his Championship top six placing to Willis.
Alex Summers, determined to get his self-built AFS P4t into the points for the first time following a few tweaks after Prescott, did it in style with two mid-field placings, demoting Willis to sixth place second time up. But in the opening run-off, Summers missed out on fifth place by four hundredths after a fine drive by David Warburton. ‘Little Warby’ was determined to keep his ‘Number 10’ for next year out of the clutches of Richard Spedding who, just two points behind and with his own Raptor still out of action, was sharing the similar car of Scot Simon Mackay. Despite Spedding getting the borrowed car into the run-off each time and finishing eighth behind Dave Uren in the opening shoot-out, Warburton’s spirited opening run-off charge would virtually assure him of the coveted ‘No.10’ for 2024, which was confirmed after the Yorkshireman later finished out of the points together with Eynon Price.
Seventh each time, David Uren was happy enough to stay ahead of Paul Haimes in eighth place on the table, bearing in mind he’d missed much of the season with engine problems. Haimes’ Gould turbo, together with Zach Zammitt’s Empire Wraith, had retired with problems after lunch. Jack Cottrill made the cut each time and although finishing out of the points in the morning, together with Adam Greenen, he finished ahead of Warburton in the afternoon and ended his season with the DJ Dallara-XD twelfth on the Championship table. Johnathen Varley mopped up the final point of the final round after an excellent year in the Predator-TKD in which he’d taken both the BH Cup and Midland Hillclimb titles.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the BHC Tin Top Challenge provided a nail-biting end to this highly successful new venture. Already with three out of four wins under his belt coming to Loton, Steve Darley looked an odds-on bet for the title ahead of his Subaru Legacy co-driver Damien Bradley. With no dropped points to complicate the scoring of this short series, Darley looked to have it sewn up after winning the first run-off as the pair performed their customary one/two. But they’d reckoned without the man knocking on the door, Simon Bainbridge in his Audi powered SBR Chrono. The driver of the big sports libre car, more used to the wide open sprint circuits than the tortuous hills, snatched a surprise afternoon run-off win from Bradley by thirteen hundredths to confirm his third place in the Challenge. Darley needed only a fourth place finish to clinch the title, but storming into Fallow in an all-out final shot he spun the Legacy spectacularly under braking and toured home eighth and last, handing the title to his co-driver.
Having tied with his son for third place in round 5, Roger Moran exercised his prerogative by edging Scott out to fourth by half a second in round 6 aboard their 4WD Skoda Fabia R5 rally car. At the wheel of one of his ‘spare’ Mitsubishi Evos, Stephen Moore chased them home at the end to consolidate fourth place in the series behind Bainbridge, ahead of Chris Berrisford’s Impreza and Moran Sr.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Loton Park
FTD: Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 43.09s
Championship run-off, round 29: 1 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 43.44s; 2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 43.70s; 3 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 43.95s; 4 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 44.74s; 5 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 44.82s; 6 Alex Summers (2.5 AFS P4t-Cosworth/Opel KF) 44.86s; 7 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 45.07s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 45.52s; 9 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 45.69s; 10 Zach Zammit (1.3t Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 46.42s; 11 Jack Cottrill (2.7 DJ Dallara-Cosworth XD) 47.50s; 12 Adam Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 48.64s.
Championship run-off, round 30: 1 Ryder 43.09s; 2 Hall 43.66s; 3 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 43.76s; 4 Moran 44.00s; 5 Summers 44.21s; 6 Willis 44.29s; 7 Uren 44.35s; 8 Cottrill 44.63s; 9 Warburton 45.16s; 10 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 45.99s; 11 Spedding 46.37s; 12 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 46.64s.
British Hillclimb Championship final positions: 1 Wallace Menzies 222pts; 2 Moran 211; 3 Ryder 198; 4 Summers 164; 5 Hall 154; 6 Willis 128; 7 Gould 124; 8 Uren 87; 9 Haimes 63; 10 Warburton 54; etc.
BHC Tin Top Challenge, round 5: 1 Steve Darley (2.4t Subaru Legacy GL) 52.82s; 2 Damien Bradley (2.4t Subaru Legacy GL) 54.19s; 3= Scott Moran and Roger Moran (1.6t Skoda Fabia R5) 54.50s; 5 Simon Bainbridge (4.2t SBR Chrono-Audi V8) 54.77s; 6 Stuart Reid (1.9 Peugeot 205) 56.12s; 7 Stephen Moore (2.3t Mitsubishi Evo 6) 56.44s; 8 Chris Berrisford (2.4t Subaru Impreza) 57.90s; 9 Robbie Birrell (2.5t Porsche Cayman GTS) 59.85s; 10 Robert Wilson (1.8 Peugeot 205) 60.99s.
BHC Tin Top Challenge, round 6: 1 Bainbridge 52.08s; 2 Bradley 52.21s; 3 Roger Moran 53.77s; 4 Scott Moran 54.27s; 5 Moore 54.97s; 6 Berrisford 56.94s; Darley 28.09s; 2 Bradley 28.29s; 3 Moore 29.41s; 4; 5 Berrisford 30.88s; 7 Birrell 57.41s; 8 Darley 66.31s; No other starters.
BHC Tin Top Challenge final positions: 1 Bradley 55pts; 2 Darley 52; 3 Bainbridge 46; 4 Moore 40; 5 Berrisford 30; 6 Roger Moran 28; 7 Birrell 21; 8= Reid and Scott Moran 15; 10 Gavin Neate; etc.
Third overall in the Championship, Matt Ryder ended his season with a double win (Stuart Wing)
Scott Moran made his last appearance in top-line British hillclimbing (Stuart Wing)
Johnathen Varley clinched both the BH Cup and Midland Championship titles (Stuart Wing)
Damien Bradley won the inaugural BHC Tin Top Challenge series (Stuart Wing)
FOUR IN A ROW!
Event 14 at Prescott on 03/09/2023
In a last ditch attempt to stay in the hunt for the British Championship, even two run-off wins by Scott Moran were not enough to halt the charge of Wallace Menzies. After four tyre-smoking burnouts coming to the line, a fourth place finish in Prescott’s opening run-off, albeit a second away from his hill record set two years ago, was enough for the Scot to take his fourth consecutive BHC title. This singular feat had been performed only once before in the history of the Championship –almost seventy years ago – by the late Ken Wharton.
As another memorable British hillclimb season drew towards its conclusion, the competition was as close as ever. In a result not seen in the BHC since he tied for the win at Gurston Down with co-driver Alex Summers in 2015, Scott tied for the opening run-off win again, this time with the man already assured of a best ever third overall in the Championship, Matt Ryder. The two drivers shared FTD with a time, although unofficially, inside the over 2-litre class record.
Towards the end of his first year in his new Gould GR59, Will Hall continues to get increasingly good results. In the opening run-off, he kept Menzies out of third place to run within half a second of the two leaders. Having set the pace in qualifying for round 27, Dave Uren closed to within six hundredths of Menzies but with the title in the bag, the champion elect upped his pace in the afternoon and both he and Uren moved up a place at the expense of Hall. Trevor Willis couldn’t quite match Uren’s pace in the morning run-off, although the 3-times British champion is well clear of his rival on the Championship table and after sixth place in the afternoon bout, he could still end the season in the Championship top half dozen as he currently lies a single point behind the sixth placed Sean Gould. Following his win at Loton the previous weekend, the ultra-successful constructor himself managed just ninth and seventh places at Prescott, but the performance in the same car of his protégé Matt Ryder this season must be a source of huge satisfaction – not to mention his Gould cars filling eight out of the top ten places in the Championship!
After a sixth place qualifier with a new class record, Paul Haimes had a difficult opening run-off with launch problems in the GR59-Suzuki turbo. He was marginally outrun by David Warburton, who took seventh place in his similar, but unblown chassis. Haimes dropped a place in the afternoon to run just clear of Jack Cottrill, making another of his increasingly frequent run-off appearances in the DJ modified Dallara-XD. But in his quest for another ‘number’ in 2023, Warburton clung on for the final point in the afternoon and regained his place in the Championship top ten.
For the second weekend in succession, Johnathen Varley got the Predator-TKD into the opening run-off with a new 2-litre class record. Unlike at Loton, he couldn’t manage another record in the afternoon but he still made the cut for the shoot-out, although finishing out of the points. However, his earlier record pace meant that he broke clear of a 3-way tie for the lead of the parallel, class based BHC Cup to take sole charge of the series. With his DJ Firestorm out of action, Alex Summers made a debut run-off appearance in his striking new AFS P4t, qualifying the car for a second time in the afternoon. After a seven year build programme, Alex admitted that there was still a lot of development to be done, nevertheless to qualify the car for the first time marked a great achievement for the car’s driver/constructor.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Prescott
FTD: Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) and Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4
Championship run-off, round 27: 1= Moran and Ryder 34.95s; 3 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 35.43s; 4 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.60s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 35.66s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 35.81s; 7 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 36.57s; 8 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 36.73s; 9 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 36.81s; 10 Jack Cottrill (2.7 DJ Dallara-Cosworth XD) 37.14s; 11 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 37.57s; 12 Alex Summers (2.5 AFS P4t-Cosworth/Opel KF) 37.69s.
Championship run-off, round 28: 1 Moran 35.01s; 2 Ryder 35.17s; 3 Menzies 35.51s; 4 Uren 35.60s; 5 Hall 35.75s; 6 Willis 35.76s; 7 Gould 36.16s; 8 Haimes 36.42s; 9 Cottrill 36.55s; 10 Warburton 36.74s; 11 Summers 37.35s; 12 Varley 38.29s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 28: 1 Menzies 222pts; 2 Moran 209; 3 Ryder 186; 4 Summers 163; 5 Hall 143; 6 Gould 117; 7 Willis 118; 8 Dave Uren 79; 9 Haimes 61; 10 Warburton 46; etc.
Wallace Menzies secured his fourth successive BHC title (Stuart Wing)
Two more wins by Scott Moran were not enough to challenge the Championship leader (Stuart Wing)
Matt Ryder tied for a run-off win and FTD (Stuard Wing)
Alex Summers gave his AFS P4t its British run-off debut (Stuart Wing)
MENZIES ON THE BRINK
Event 13 at Loton Park on 27/08/2023
At the first of this year’s two Loton Park BHC meetings and with the duel between Championship leader Wallace Menzies and Scott Moran moving towards its conclusion, Scott hung on to his slender title hopes by outpacing his rival in both run-offs. He took the opening win with a convincing 0.86 sec margin on a dry track, but as drizzle set in during the second shoot-out both protagonists finished mid-field and the gap closed to four tenths. Had those second run-off positions been reversed however, Wallace would have taken the title with four rounds in hand… With Scott now needing additional points for a hill record to stay in the hunt, the defending champion is on the brink of achieving his ambition of four-in-a-row.
Will Hall produced another fine performance in his GR59-Judd to finish third in the opening run-off, finishing just ahead of Matt Ryder. But Ryder had incurred a one second penalty when, like several others during the day, he uprooted a marker post on the inside of Keepers. But for that, he would have finished second and split the two leaders. Another all-out effort by Trevor Willis kept the OMS V8 ahead of Dave Uren’s GR55B while as the first non-V8 home, Paul Haimes managed to keep his bike engine Gould turbo ahead of the ever improving Jack Cottrill’s DJ modified Dallara-XD by six hundredths. Having shaved two hundredths off his own 2-litre record in qualifying, Johnathen Varley and the Predator-TKD confined David Warburton to the final point. That the GR59-Suzuki driver was another to incur a marker penalty at Keepers made no difference and he would still have finished tenth as in addition, problems beset the remaining two key runners.
First away as a double driver, Sean Gould had performed a lurid spin at Loggerheads in the Gould shared with Matt Ryder, while problems once again struck the unfortunate Alex Summers. His Firestorm coasted straight on at Fallow and into the holding paddock with electronic problems, which would keep the Firestorm out for the rest of the day.
Just as the second run-off was about to start, light drizzle began. Steadily worsening conditions would favour the early runners, which played right into the hands of Graham Wynn. First away in his Gould-Judd, he promptly set a time marginally quicker than his qualifier which would eventually leave him in second place, his best ever BHC run-off finish. Next up, Sean Gould made no mistakes this time and his mid-44, some two seconds away from Moran’s earlier winning time, looked to be good enough for the win in the deteriorating conditions, and so it would prove. As the two double-driven cars returned to the paddock, conditions worsened but there was still enough grip for Jack Cottrill to get a run that, despite being edged out of third place by following runner Eynon Price, the former rallyman revelling in the now slippery conditions, would leave him in a best ever fourth place BHC finish at the end.
All the runners remained on slicks, but as the track became ever more slippery, the top four in the opening run-off, Moran, Menzies, Hall and Ryder, followed each other home again although well down the field and some seven seconds off their earlier pace. But running last as top qualifier, so in the worst of the conditions, Moran had produced another superb run to head off Menzies and keep his slender championship hopes alive. Having reset his class record once again in qualifying, Varley brought the Predator home over a second and a half clear of the tenth placed Trevor Willis as the OMS got briefly out of shape into Keepers. Out of the points were Paul Haimes and Dave Uren, who had just managed to catch the big Gould after a big sideways moment out of Triangle in the slippery conditions.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Loton Park
FTD: Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 42.52s
Championship run-off, round 25: 1 Moran 42.52s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 43.38s; 3 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 43.51s; 4 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 43.75s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 43.81s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 44.05s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 44.90s; 8 Jack Cottrill (2.7 DJ Dallara Cosworth XD) 44.96s; 9 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 45.31s; 10 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 46.42s; Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) DNF; Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 26: 1 Gould 44.57s; 2 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 46.79s; 3 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 48.54s; 4 Cottrill 48.90s; 5 Moran 49.40s; 6 Menzies 49.79s; 7 Hall 50.40s; 8 Ryder 50.45s; 9 Varley 50.67s; 10 Willis 52.34s; 11 Haimes 53.49s; 12 Uren 54.77s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 26: 1 Menzies 218pts; 2 Moran 199; 3 Ryder 172; 4 Summers 163; 5 Hall 129; 6 Gould 111; 7 Willis 106; 8 Dave Uren 66; 9 Haimes 55; 10 Richard Spedding 44; etc.
With another win and a double defeat of Wallace Menzies, Scott Moran kept his Championship hopes alive (Stuart Wing)
Sean Gould beat the rain to take his first run of the year (Stuart Wing)
Jack Cottrill produced his best ever BHC finish (Stuart Wing)
Johnathen Varley qualified the Predator with two class records (Stuart Wing)
RYDER WINS AS MENZIES FALTERS
Event 12 at Shelsley Walsh on 13/08/2023
After relatively lean year in his DJ Firestorm, Alex Summers’ season is at last proving competitive. On the back of his win at Wiscombe Park a fortnight earlier, he won the opening run-off in less than ideal conditions at Shelsley Walsh and followed it up with third place in the afternoon, to level with Matt Ryder in third spot on the Championship table. With hill conditions at their best, Ryder hit top form in the closing run-off to take his second win of the season and with it, a coveted Shelsley FTD in a time just two tenths shy of Sean Gould’s hill record set in the same car two years earlier. Still in a comfortable second place on the table, Scott Moran was runner-up each time, tied in the opening run-off with an inspired Will Hall, who had to settle for fourth place in the afternoon. Even Championship leader Wallace Menzies would have settled for that – instead it had been a day he’d rather forget.
After qualifying in only seventh place for the morning shoot-out, Menzies could only score a highly discardable six points for a fifth place finish – his worst result of the year apart from the failed run at Wiscombe on his previous outing. Then in the final shoot-out, having just witnessed that storming shot by Ryder, he was right on the pace and clocking 133mph on Ess approach when he lost it under braking at Bottom Ess. The Gould charged the left-hand bank, losing a complete front corner and damaging the rear wing as it rebounded into the barrier. Happily, Wallace was quite unhurt, and it was a measure of the defending champion’s character that before returning down the hill he walked round and thanked every one of the marshals that were recovering the car and clearing the track.
So with a time just two tenths behind Ryder’s FTD, Moran’s run for second place was particularly accomplished considering he’d had to endure a 20 minute wait to take what would be the last run of the day. After Shelsley, with the top four closing up on points any one of them could still theoretically take the title, But despite recent misfortunes, Wallace is still in the driving seat.
It was good to see Dave Uren back in the fray, playing himself back in with a new gearbox at last installed in the GR55B. Sean Gould was not quite so happy, visiting the grass outfield first before, and even more so after, Kennel Bend in successive run-offs. He trailed the sixth placed Uren by three hundredths in the morning but slipped to ninth in the afternoon. Trevor Willis just failed to get on terms with Sean in the morning but moved up behind Uren for sixth place later on, his OMS V8 holding off a hard charging Zach Zammit, over from Malta for the first time this year and going great guns in the works Empire Wraith-Suzuki turbocar ahead of Paul Haimes’ similarly powered GR59 each time. Haimes tied with Dave Warburton’s normally aspirated version for the final point in the opening run-off, at the expense of Johnathen Varley, but the Predator-TKD V8 driver was disappointed to narrowly miss the afternoon cut – particularly as he’d set a new 2-litre class record on his qualifying attempt. Warburton got in instead, but he was out of luck as Jack Cottrill’s DJ-Dallara V8 bagged the final point.
With one or two single seaters coming off worst against Shelsley’s unyielding banks during the day, fortunately without harm to their drivers, mention must be made of ‘Save of the Day’ by Terry Graves. With a nearside front wheel high in the air from Crossing to Bottom Ess, he managed to keep his wayward Gould-XD on the black stuff after an offside rear suspension breakage.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the BHC Tin Top Challenge, held before each BHC run-off, produced a similar result to the inaugural rounds at Harewood with the Subaru Legacy of joint series leaders Stephen Darley and Damien Bradley leading throughout. But this time it was Darley in charge each time. After breaking Bradley’s 2022 class record in qualifying he found even more time in the second run-off to complete a double win and take a 2-point lead ahead of his co-driver in this 6-round series. In a reversal of their Harewood placings, Steven Moore was next up each time in his Mitsubishi Evo6 with Simon Bainbridge chasing hard in the spectacular Audi V8 powered SBR Chrono, leaving them tied for third place in the Challenge series.
Stuart Reid’s rapid Peugeot 205 all but caught Chris Berrisford’s Impreza in the afternoon as they held the next two places. Having broken the big Series Production record in his Alfa 4C, Rodney Eyles relieved Cayman mounted Robbie Birrell of his earlier seventh place in the afternoon run-off, pushing Andrew Norris’s supercharged 911 down a place to ninth, while Peter Siddle’s effective Clio 182 Cup and Jonathan Williamson’s evergreen Porsche were eased out of the closing run-off by Richard Snow’s Cayman GT4.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Shelsley Walsh
FTD: Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 22.57s
Championship run-off, round 23: 1 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 23.10s; 2= Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 23.19s; 2= Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 23.19s; 4 Ryder 23.34s; 5 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 23.45s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 23.63s; 7 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 23.66s; 8 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 23.97s; 9 Zac Zammit (1.3t Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 24.81s; 10= Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 24.94s; 10= David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 24.94s; 12 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 25.44s.
Championship run-off, round 24: 1 Ryder 22.57s; 2 Moran 22.78s; 3 Summers 22.80s; 4 Hall 22.83s; 5 Uren 23.55s; 6 Willis 23.77s; 7 Zammit 24.22s; 8 Haimes 24.46s; 9 Gould 24.57s; 10 Jack Cottrill (2.7 DJ Dallara Cosworth XD) 24.62s; 11 Warburton 24.68s; Menzies DNF.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 24: 1 Menzies 204pts; 2 Moran 186; 3= Ryder and Summers 163; 5 Hall 117; 6 Gould 101; 7 Willis 99; 8 Dave Uren 61; 9 Haimes 51; 10 Richard Spedding 44; etc.
BHC Tin Top Challenge, round 3: 1 Steve Darley (2.4t Subaru Legacy GL) 28.71s; 2 Damien Bradley (2.4t Subaru Legacy GL) 22.88s; 3 Stephen Moore (2.3t Mitsubishi Evo 6 RS) 29.55s; 4 Simon Bainbridge (4.2t SBR Chrono-Audi V8) 30.57s; 5 Chris Berrisford (2.4t Subaru Impreza) 30.92s; 6 Stuart Reid (1.9 Peugeot 205) 32.15s; 7 Robbie Birrell (2.5t Porsche Cayman GTS) 32.57s; 8 Andrew Norris (3.3s Porsche 911) 32.63s; 9 Peter Siddle (2.0 Renault Clio 182 Cup) 33.34s; 10 Jonathan Williamson (3.2 Porsche 911 Carrera) 33.72s; etc.
BHC Tin Top Challenge, round 4: 1 Darley 28.09s; 2 Bradley 28.29s; 3 Moore 29.41s; 4 Bainbridge 29.55s; 5 Berrisford 30.88s; 6 Reid 31.85s; 7 Rodney Eyles (1.8t Alfa Romeo 4C) 31.93s; 8 Birrell 32.20s; 9 Norris 32.54s; 10 Richard Snow 3.8 Porsche Cayman GT4) 33.23s; etc.
BHC Tin Top Challenge positions after round 4: 1 Darley 39pts; 2 Bradley 37; 3= Bainbridge and Moore 30; 5 Berrisford 22; 6 Birrell 15; 7 Roger Moran 12; 8 Reid 10; 9 Gavin Neate 6; 10 Norris 5; etc.
Matt Ryder took his second win of the season (Stuart Wing)
Alex Summers levelled with Ryder for a Championship third place (Stuart Wing)
Scott Moran closed in on the Championship leader (Stuart Wing)
Record=breaker Steven Darley won both Tin Top run-offs and leads the series (Stuart Wing)
HERO TO ZERO!
Event 11 at Wiscombe Park on 30/07/2023
With each of Wiscombe Park’s two BHC run-offs held on consecutive days, the fortunes of Championship leader Wallace Menzies could hardly have been more different.
Saturday’s event started off wet, but the track dried throughout the day and from an unaccustomed eighth qualifying place a determined Menzies produced a typically scintillating run, storming the South Devon hill to take the run-off win with a new hill record. On Sunday the rain returned in earnest and set in for the day. On a now treacherous track, with average run-off times seven seconds slower than on the previous day, top qualifier and last runner Menzies charged up Castle Straight and braked a fraction too late into the tight Martini hairpin. On a snap decision by the driver the red GR59 shot up the escape road for a zero score, handing the win to Alex Summers. It was the Firestorm drivers third win of the year – some consolation, perhaps, for losing his year-old Wiscombe hill record to Menzies the previous day by a mere hundredth of a second.
Having finished a strong second behind Menzies in Saturday’s run-off, Summers repeated his season’s best form at Saturday’s Gurston double-header, closing to within a single point of Championship third placeman Matt Ryder. The Ryder/Gould duo’s fortunes were much better than in the Channel Islands a week or so earlier and on Saturday Ryder was back in the top three, just behind Summers. Things looked promising for Gould when he qualified the GR59 top for Saturday’s run-off. But it all went wrong in the shoot-out itself when, after looking to be on a flyer, he overdid things at Martini. He ran wide, stopped without hitting the bank, rolled back and powered over the line, but the time had ticked by and he finished out of the points. Earlier in Saturday’s run-off, the notorious top hairpin had claimed another victim when, in a foretaste of Menzies’ incident the following day, Darren Gumbley had taken to the escape road in his Force TA. The Gould team had better luck in Sunday’s run-off, with Sean following Matt home to grab fourth and fifth places. However Scott Moran, who had been edged out by Ryder by three hundredths on Saturday’s dry track, turned the tables in the wet the following day. His second place, just five hundredths behind Summers, kept him within arm’s length (just about!) of the Championship leader with eight rounds still to run.
Trevor Willis brought the OMS V8 home fifth on Saturday, although dropping a place the following day, allowing Will Hall to slip past by eight hundredths in his GR59. With both drivers clipping the marker posts on the inside of Martini in an effort not to run wide, Paul Haimes had edged out Hall for sixth on Saturday but had to settle for seventh behind Willis the following day. But with championship rivals Richard Spedding and Dave Warburton not taking part in either run-off (Warburton failed to qualify Alex Summers’ creation, the AFS P4T, while Spedding non-started), Haimes leapfrogged them both on the table to move back into the Championship top ten.
The Wiscombe weekend was notable for no less than four drivers making the cut for a British hillclimb run-off for the first time. Reigning BHC Cup champion Alex Coles has stepped up from a Formula Ford into his father Neal’s 1600cc OMS-Suzuki 28 this year and qualified and scored each day in the car. Eighth place on Saturday, ahead of experienced run-off campaigner Lee Griffiths’ similar, but bigger engined OMS-Suzuki, was followed by tenth place the next day. Ahead of Coles on that wet Sunday, two 1100cc class runners had done well to qualify amongst the ‘big guns’, Stuart Bickley and Tom Weaver finishing eighth and ninth in bike powered Force TA and Empire Evo respectively, while in a rare BHC appearance by a saloon car, Stephen Darley made the Sunday cut in the potent Subaru Legacy, the car that his co-driver Damien Bradley had qualified for a Harewood BHC run-off in similar conditions two years ago.
Darley and Bradley also jointly lead the BHC Tin Top Challenge, having swapped wins and second places in the first two rounds at Harewood in July. They will be anxious to consolidate their series advantage at the next two, when the BHC ‘circus’ returns to Shelsley Walsh in a fortnight.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Wiscombe Park
FTD (Saturday): Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 32.93s (outright hill record)
FTD (Sunday): Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 39.64s
Championship run-off, round 21: 1 Menzies 32.93s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 33.23s; 3 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 33.37s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 33.40s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 34.04s; 6 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 34.34s; 7 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 34.75s; 8 Alex Coles (1.6 OMS-Suzuki 28) 36.07s; 9 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 28) 36.12s; 10 Adam Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 37.10s; 12 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 39.18s; Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 22: 1 Summers 39.81s; 2 Moran 39.87s; 3 Ryder 40.11s; 4 Gould 40.27s; 5 Hall 40.67s; 6 Willis 40.75s; 7 Haimes 41.46s; 8 Stuart Bickley (1.1 Force-Suzuki TA) 42.10s; 9 Tom Weaver (1.0 Empire Evo-Suzuki) 42.88s; 10 Alex Coles (1.6 OMS-Suzuki 28) 43.34s; 11 Steve Darley (2.4t Subaru Legacy) 44.10s; Menzies DNF.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 22: 1 Menzies 198pts; 2 Moran 168; 3 Ryder 146; 4 Summers 145; 5 Hall 101; 6 Gould 95; 7 Willis 91; 8 Dave Uren 50; 9 Haimes 47; 10 Richard Spedding 44; etc.
After breaking the hill record on Saturday, Wallace Menzies failed to score on Sunday (Nigel Cole)
Alex Summers stepped in to take Sunday's run-off win (Nigel Cole)
Alex Coles scored twice on his British run-off debut (Nigel Cole)
Driving his 1100cc Force TA, Stuart Bickley chased the BHC big guns on his first run-off appearance (Nigel Cole)
WIN WITH A SPIN!
Event 10 at Le Val Des Terres on 22/07/2023
A spin over the line exiting Le Val Des Terres’ notorious final right-hander is nothing uncommon. But to spin and clout the bank while at the same time setting a new hill record most certainly is. That’s exactly what Wallace Menzies did on his way to what would be a double win at the Guernsey hill, which set him still further on the road to a fourth successive BHC title. It had taken until round 19 to set the first new hill record of the 2023 season, but it came at a price as this shunt in the opening run-off not only removed a rear tyre but caused rear suspension damage, which meant that Tom New and Team Tillicoultry Quarries faced a race against time to prepare the GR59 for the late afternoon qualifying runs. They got the job done in the nick of time and Wallace immediately set the fastest Q-time for the second run-off, which speaks volumes for his confidence in his team. They were well rewarded when their driver went on to take a second win and increase his Championship lead to 35 points.
The action had indeed been frantic in that opening shoot-out, Scott Moran crossing the line broadside in bringing his own GR59 home in second place, over half a second behind the new record-holder, while Will Hall had crossed the line before spinning his own version through 180⁰ as he brought it home third. Just two hundredths behind Hall in fourth place, local man Nick Saunders produced a fine effort in his Reynick-Suzuki with Dave Warburton just five hundredths adrift in the bike-engined GR59. Alex Summers managed to bring the Firestorm home in sixth place, but it was close, third to sixth being covered by just 0.14s with Warburton on his best ever form on the Guernsey hill.
With the second run-off again the property of Menzies, Moran chased him home again, closing to within just three hundredths, but this time it was Saunders who bagged third spot to equal his best ever BHC finish as he edged out Hall by seven hundredths. Competition was again intense, the Guernseyman relegating Hall to fourth place and just two hundredths clear of Alex Summers, who this time had slipped by Warburton into fifth and started to close in on Matt Ryder’s fourth place on the series table. Once again unable to get their GR59 on the pace, Ryder and Sean Gould had another disappointing day with Ryder just scraping into the points at the expense of his co-driver, while in the closing run-off they at least made the final two scoring positions as an under-the-weather Trevor Willis, who had led them both in the opening run-off in a tie for eighth place with Paul Haimes, slipped out of the points. He was joined by Darren Gumbley who had made the cut each time, but without adding to his score. Another local man, Tim Tulie, had twice made the cut after setting a new class record in his 1100cc Empire-Suzuki. He enjoyed a day-long duel with Haimes, heading home the supercharged GR59-Suzuki for seventh place each time.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Le Val des Terres
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 26.56s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 19: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 26.47s;
2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 27.05; 3 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 27.53s; 4 Nick Saunders (1.6 Reynick-Suzuki) 27.55s; 5 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 27.50s; 6 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 27.67s; 7 Tim Tulie (1.1 Empire Evo-Suzuki) 28.06s; 8= Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.30s; 8= Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 28.30s; 10 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 28.64s; 11 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 28.94s; 12 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 29.41s.
Championship run-off, round 20: 1 Menzies 26.91s; 2 Moran 26.94s; 3 Saunders 27.67s; 4 Hall
27.74s; 5 Summers 27.76s; 6 Warburton 28.01s; 7 Tulie 28.13s; 8 Haimes 28.51s; 9 Ryder
28.55s; 10 Gould 28.89s; 11 Willis 28.95s; 12 Gumbley 29.04s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 20: 1 Menzies 187pts; 2 Moran 152; 3 Ryder 130; 4 Summers 126; 5 Hall 91; 6 Gould 88; 7 Willis 80; 8 Dave Uren 50; 9 Richard Spedding 44; 10 Warburton 39; etc.
Wallace Menzies set a new hill record in spectacular fashion! (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Local driver Nick Saunders got his Reynick-Suzuki in amongst the big hitters each time (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Another local man, Tim Tulie, twice brought his 1-litre Empire home in seventh place (Andrew Le Poidevin)
David Warburton hit his best ever Guernsey form (Andrew Le Poidevin)
MENZIES v MORAN ON THE ISLAND
Event 9 at Bouley Bay on 19/07/2023
Despite a big lockup and a slide at the final bend, where he had to dip the clutch to prevent his GR59 from stalling, Wallace Menzies hung on to take FTD with an opening run-off win by a quarter of a second on the hairpin-strewn public road course at Bouley Bay. His closest Championship rival Scott Moran had suffered clutch issues in practice, but recovered to take fourth place. In the closing run-off, after gaining time on the tortuous climb’s middle reaches, it was the six-time champion’s turn to take a narrow seven hundredths win from the series leader, but as the Championship heads towards its latter stages, Menzies’ progress towards a fourth successive title seems unstoppable.
Hot on the winners’ heels in the first run-off was a delighted Trevor Willis. Much to his relief his 36.48s hill record, which has stood for seven years, remained intact throughout the day. More importantly, it was the OMS-RPE V8 driver’s best result of the season and his first podium finish since Prescott’s opening round back in April. A fourth place finish in the second run-off gave him his best combined result of the year. Alex Summers, who has been having a lean time of late in the Firestorm but is hanging on to fourth place on the table, was another to have a moment at the notorious top bend which left him just eight hundredths behind Willis in the first shoot-out, before edging out Trevor by exactly the same margin to take another third place at the end.
Chasing the top four hard each time was Richard Spedding. Seven hundredths behind Moran in round 17 and a mere one hundredth behind Willis in round 18, the driver of the diminutive Raptor-Suzuki was another driver having his best weekend of the season so far. Matt Ryder was the first to suffer at the hands of the hard charging Yorkshireman, lack of knowledge of the demanding hill plus a GR59 which neither he nor Sean Gould could get to handle to their satisfaction being contributory factors. After Matt’s recent win at Harewood, the Jersey result was particularly hard to take. Darren Gumbley, on the other hand, was delighted to finish round 17 within half a second of Ryder’s GR59 for his first British points since Craigantlet in April. Co-driver Dave Uren, still awaiting his Gould GR55’s gearbox rebuild, brought their Force TA home for the final point behind a disappointed Sean Gould, following a time-consuming sideways moment at the notorious Radio Hairpin and Will Hall, who spent most of his time looking out of the side of his own GR59!
The second run-off, however, saw Hall find another half second and improve to eighth place with a time five hundredths away from his Bouley PB in the Force. With a determined shot almost a second and a half inside his qualifier Dave Warburton, who had failed to make the cut for round 17, ran within a couple of tenths of Hall for seventh place, ahead of Ryder, Gumbley and final points scorer Gould. Guernseymen filled the two non-scoring places each time with Andy Bougourd, a veteran of this year’s Championship season, getting into round 17 and class winner Tim Tulie doing particularly well to qualify his 1100cc Empire-Suzuki in his first BHC qualification outside Guernsey. Ahead of them both was Nick Saunders in the much campaigned Reynick, but three days later, on home soil, it would be a different story …
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Bouley Bay
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 36.99s
Championship run-off, round 17: 1 Menzies 36.99s; 2 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 37.26s;
3 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 37.34; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 37.50s; 5 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 37.57s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 37.92s; 7 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 38.39s; 8 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 38.77s; 9 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 38.80s; 10 Dave Uren (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 39.36s; 11 Nick Saunders (1.6 Reynick-Suzuki) 39.89s; 12 Andy Bougourd (1.6 Force-Suzuki PT) 40.47s.
Championship run-off, round 18: 1 Moran 37.28s; 2 Menzies 37.35s; 3 Summers 37.84s; 4
Willis 37.92s; 5 Spedding 37.93s; 6 Hall 38.22s; 7 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59)
38.43s; 8 Ryder 38.48s; 9 Gumbley 38.49s; 10 Gould 38.84s; 11 Saunders 38.95s; 12 Tim Tulie
(1.1 Empire Evo-Suzuki) 40.26s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 18: 1 Menzies 166pts; 2 Moran 134; 3 Ryder 127; 4 Summers 115; 5 Gould 87; 6 Willis 77; 7 Hall 76; 8 Uren 50; 9 Spedding 44; 10 Paul Haimes 32; etc.
Despite a big moment at the final bend, Wallace Menzies took the opening run-off win with FTD (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Scott Moran took a narrow win from the series leader in round 18 (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Runner-up to Menzies in round 17, Trevor Willis enjoyed his best result of the season so far (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Alex Summers battled throughout with Trevor Willis for two third place finishes (Andrew Le Poidevin)
RYDER AGAIN AT HAREWOOD
Event 8 at Harewood on 02/07/2023
Exactly one year after his maiden BHC win with a new hill record at Harewood, Matt Ryder returned to the Yorkshire hill to set the outright pace once again. Having qualified top for the closing run-off just ahead of his co-driver, the Gould GR59’s constructor Sean Gould, the 26-year-old edged out Wallace Menzies to snatch the win, and FTD, from the Championship leader.
Menzies had already won the opening run-off from Ryder and now extended his series lead to a healthy 28 points, but his closest rival is now Ryder, who slipped past Scott Moran on the Championship table after uncharacteristically untidy third and fourth place finishes, which included a big lock-up and sideways entry into the final part of Quarry in the first shoot-out and skittling both sets of marker posts in the Esses on the second. This left the 6-times champion trailing Ryder by just two points on the series table.
Hanging on to fourth place on the table after another difficult weekend, Alex Summers sat out Saturday’s practice sessions with transmission problems. But the Firestorm was back in action on Sunday to open with a fourth place finish. In an all-out attempt to make up for lost time in the second shoot-out Alex was well on the pace into Quarry, only to become another to fall foul of the notorious, tightening right-hander before the finish. With two wheels on the grass he retrieved the situation, but not the time, which would only be good enough for fifth place at the end, a hundredth clear of the ever-spectacular Trevor Willis who finished sixth each time.
The OMS V8 driver had chased home Sean Gould in the opening shoot-out, while after that fine second place qualifier and third place finish in the closing run-off, Sean enjoyed his best combined result since Gurston Down back in May. Two seventh place finishes kept Will Hall comfortably in the Championship top six, his Gould V8 leading home Richard Spedding’s Raptor-Suzuki in the opening run-off, but the despite a two tenths improvement in round 16, the local driver found himself just out of the points as the overall pace stepped up,.
Split by two hundredths in round 15 were Paul Haimes and Dave Warburton in their GR59s, Haimes’ turbo version getting the edge for eighth place. But Jack Cottrill joined the fray for round 16, surging into eighth place in his DJ Dallara-XD ahead of Warburton who, with an improvement of almost a second, relegated Haimes to the final point.
Jason Tunnicliffe made the cut for the first time this year, although in round 15 the Empire Wraith turbo driver, together with Andy Greenan in his Evo 3 version from Bill Chaplin’s emporium, finished out of the points, as did Eynon Price’s Force TA in round 16.
Harewood also saw the first two rounds of the new BHC Tin Top Challenge, a 3-event, 6-round series which will see further rounds at Shelsley and Loton. With both drivers inside Harewod’s 2-litre Modified Production record during the class runs, when honours finally fell to Damien Bradley, it looked a fair bet that both Bradley and his driving partner Steve Darley in their Subaru Legacy, with a reputed 700bhp on tap on full boost, would be hot favourites for top honours in the two 10-car run-offs, each held before those for the British Championship. And so it proved, with the pair swapping wins to end the day tied in the lead of the Challenge on a day when, apart from the two leaders, all the top eight finishers and their placings were identical.
Simon Bainbridge in his Audi powered sports libre SBR Chrono drew away, albeit only slightly, from rapid Mitsubishi Evo ace Stephen Moore, last year’s Midland Hillclimb champion at the wheel of his Evo 6. Roger Moran was well in touch with Moore, driving his rally spec. Skoda and competing in his first run-off at a British Championship event since 2014. The 1997 British champion finished ahead of Chris Berrisford and Robbie Birrell, class record-breakers both, in Impreza and Porsche Cayman respectively. Gavin Neate and his Peugeot 106 ran eighth each time ahead of, initially, Jonathan Williamson’s much campaigned Porsche Carrera, which led home Peter Siddle, but the Clio driver was eased out of round two by Phil Tucker is his rapid and immaculate Nova, which then relegated Williamson to the final place.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Harewood
FTD: Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 47.70s
Championship run-off, round 15: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 47.80s; 2 Ryder 48.02s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 48.52s; 4 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 49.07s; 5 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 49.22s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 49.41s; 7 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 49.44s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 50.86s; 9 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 50.96s; 10 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 50.98s; 11 Jason Tunnicliffe (1.3t Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 52.18s; 12 Andrew Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 52.28s.
Championship run-off, round 16: 1 Ryder 47.70s; 2 Menzies 48.04s; 3 Gould 48.71s; 4 Moran 48.74s; 5 Summers 48.75s; 6 Willis 48.76s; 7 Hall 49.22s; 8 Jack Cottrill (2.7 DJ Dallara-Cosworth XD) 49.80s; 9 Warburton 50.03s; 10 Haimes 50.34s; 11 Spedding 50.68s; 12 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 50.76s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 16: 1 Menzies 147pts; 2 Ryder 119; 3 Moran 117; 3; 4 Summers 99; 5 Gould 84; 6 Hall 68; 7 Trevor Willis 61; 8 Dave Uren 49; 9= Spedding and Haimes 32; etc.
BHC Tin Top Challenge, round 1: 1 Damien Bradley (2.4t Subaru Legacy GL) 56.30s; 2 Steve Darley (2.4t Subaru Legacy GL) 56.76s; 3 Simon Bainbridge (4.2t SBR Chrono-Audi V8) 58.74s; 4 Stephen Moore (2.3t Mitsubishi Evo 6 RS) 59.04s; 5 Roger Moran (1.6t Skoda Fabia R5) 59.35s; 6 Chris Berrisford (2.4t Subaru Impreza) 62.34s; 7 Robbie Birrell (2.5t Porsche Cayman GTS) 62.55s; 8 Gavin Neate (1.4 Peugeot 106) 63.14s; 9 Jonathan Williamson (3.2 Porsche 911 Carrera) 63.73s; 10 Peter Siddle (2.0 Renault Clio 182 Cup) 66.01s.
BHC Tin Top Challenge, round 2: 1 Darley 56.63s; 2 Bradley 56.99s; 3 Bainbridge 58.28s; 4 Moore 58.93s; 5 Moran 59.38s; 6 Berrisford 61.60s; 7 Birrell 62.71s; 8 Neate 62.30s; 9 Phil Tucker (1.4 Vauxhall Nova) 63.78s; 10 Williamson 64.11s.
BHC Tin Top Challenge positions after round 2: 1= Darley and Bradley 19pts; 3 Bainbridge 16; 4 Moore 14; 5 Moran 12; 6 Berrisford 10; 7 Birrell 8; 8 Neate 6; 9 Williamson 3; 10 Tucker 2; etc.
Matt Ryder set the outright pace on the last run of the day (Steve Wilkinson)
With a win and second place, Wallace Menzies extended his Championship lead (Steve Wilkinson)
Scott Moran conceded his Championship second place to Ryder (Steve Wilkinson)
Damien Bradley won the opening round of the BHC TinTop Challenge (Steve Wilkinson)
SUMMERS SETS THE PACE IN SCOTLAND
Event 7 at Doune on 18/06/2023
In a repeat of the format used at Wiscombe Park last year, there was one run-off on each day of the weekend at Doune. But halfway through Saturday’s run-off the rain arrived and by the time the top three qualifiers – Scott Moran, an inspired David Warburton and Alex Summers – came to the line their chance of a top finish had disappeared.
For Championship leader Wallace Menzies, a relatively poor Saturday qualifier, over a second behind Summers, would prove a blessing in disguise. Using his mastery of damp conditions he just beat his qualifier to take his seventh win of the season. As with Will Hall at Craigantlet, Sean Gould was the first to run and would benefit from a dry track. His time of 36.65 remained good enough for second place, just ahead of local hot-shoe Stuart Sugden in his Raptor, who managed the last truly dry run.
Matt Ryder, running just before Wallace, salvaged fourth ahead of 2004 Doune winner Paul Haimes while after a lurid, but non-damaging spin at Junction in practice, Will Hall qualified and took his Gould-Judd to sixth place. Richard Spedding had solved the issue that affected his Raptor at Shelsley Walsh and finished seventh. With the rain now taking effect, running third from last limited Scott Moran to eighth place while early runners Johnathen Varley and Dave Tatham – after qualifying a 1-litre car at Doune! – were the final points scorers.
And what of the two drivers running last? David Warburton had broken Sean Gould’s 2017 class record by two hundredths – in the same car, now methanol fuelled – for a fine second place qualifier. But as the rain came down he slipped out of the points. And the top qualifier, a very disappointed Alex Summers, could do no better that a mid-40 in the worst of the rain to finish out of the points.
Two top names missing from the run-off were Dave Uren and Trevor Willis who had suffered gearbox and engine problems respectively at Shelsley Walsh. The gearbox in Uren’s venerable GR55 had finally cried enough and Dave was sharing Darren Gumbley’s 1.6-litre Force, but was over a second away from qualifying. His regular co-driver Nicola Menzies was sharing father George Coghill’s classic Chevron B45 but its engine failed after practice. Trevor’s RPE engine had been rebuilt but on Saturday morning there was no oil pressure as the scavenge pump had failed. A quick reshuffle saw Trevor take Steve Owen’s place in Simon Andrews’ similar OMS 28, but he failed to qualify.
In contrast, conditions on Sunday were perfect. This played right into Alex Summers’ hands as he slotted in a class record breaking qualifier with the first sub-35 of the weekend. In the all-important run-off, penultimate runner Scott Moran went one better as he closed in on Alex’s outright hill record of 34.21s set last year. But then, with his Firestorm-XD finally working as well on the Avons as it had last year on the Pirellis, Summers stormed to the top just eight hundredths outside his hill record, taking his second win of the season to make up for the disappointment of the previous day.
After qualifying fifth, Menzies put together his first sub-36 of the weekend for third place, maintaining his season-long record of top three finishes and stretching his Championship lead over Moran to 26 points. A tenth or so behind Menzies, Matt Ryder hung on to the leading duo to end the weekend just two points behind Moran on the series table, while Will Hall went one better than the previous day to finish fifth. Having shaved a couple of hundredths off his class record for the 1600cc class on Saturday, David Warburton did a proper job on Sunday and took the record below 36 seconds to qualify third, but even with a time that was quicker still in the run-off he could only finish sixth, although ahead of Sean Gould and Stuart Sugden, despite the Scot taking his Raptor below Warburton’s class record set the previous day. Richard Spedding took ninth with his best time of the weekend but Paul Haimes, who had qualified well in sixth place with a new class record, could only finish tenth, such was the pace set by those ahead of him.
Finishing just outside the points in her first run-off of the year, Olivia Cooper had set a new Ladies’ hill record of 38.23s in qualifying, over a second inside Nicola Menzies’ mark. Behind her was the second Scottish Raptor of Simon Mackay who had failed to qualify on the Saturday after he went mowing over Jock Ramsay’s lawn at the top of East Brae. On Sunday he did qualify, but then went one better at the notorious right-hander, attacking the grass on both sides of the track on his way to twelfth place!
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Doune
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 34.29s
Championship run-off, round 13: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 36.43s; 2 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 36.65s; 3 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor 1-Suzuki) 36.76s; 4 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 36.97s; 5 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.41s; 6 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 37.56s; 7 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 38.08s; 8 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 38.43s; 9 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 38.97s; 10 David Tatham (1.1 DJ Firehawk-Suzuki) 39.75s; 11 Summers 40.55s; 12 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 41.20s.
Championship run-off, round 14: 1 Summers 34.29s; 2 Moran 34.37s; 3 Menzies 34.99s; 4 Ryder 35.15s; 5 Hall 35.58s; 6 Warburton 35.71s; 7 Gould 35.99s; 8 Sugden 36.07s; 9 Spedding 36.64s; 10 Haimes 36.65s; 11 Olivia Cooper (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 38.64s; 12 Simon Mackay (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 39.23s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 14: 1 Menzies 128pts; 2 Moran 102; 3 Ryder 100; 3; 4 Summers 86; 5 Gould 70; 6 Hall 57; 7 Trevor Willis 51; 8 Dave Uren 49; 9= Spedding and Haimes 29; etc.
After the weather had scuppered his run on Saturday, Alex Summers bounced back for Sunday's win at almost record pace (David Baxter)
David Warburton scored a best ever second place qualifier on Saturday (David Baxter)
Despite winning only one of the two rounds, Wallace Menzies extended his Championship lead (David Baxter)
Stuart Sugden opened his 2023 account with a fine third place on Saturday (David Baxter)
TWO MORE FOR MENZIES
Event 6 at Shelsley Walsh on 04/06/2023
In another masterly performance by Wallace Menzies, the defending champion won both run-offs at a dry but dusty Shelsley Walsh, setting the day’s outright pace in the first of them. In terms of outright speed, the second win was the faster as with the late afternoon sun in the drivers’ eyes, his Gould-Judd GR59 clocked 144mph through the Ess approach speed trap and a searing 162 mph over the finish. But the time didn’t quite match his first run winner of 22.33s, the day’s only sub-23sec run. In a strong opening bout challenge by Scott Moran, his own GR59 ran even quicker into Bottom Ess, but clouted the bank with a nearside rear wheel exiting Top Ess leaving Scott to finish third. Nevertheless, he left Shelsley with the runner-up spot in the Championship, albeit 20 points shy of leader Menzies who continues to strengthen his grip on a fourth title bid.
Both run-offs told a tale of attrition. Coming to Shelsley in second spot on the table, Matt Ryder failed even to qualify for the opening run-off when the GR59-Judd’s engine momentarily cut out with an apparent electronic glitch during Q1. Then when Sean Gould, who had qualified the car earlier, approached the start for his first run-off shot, a driveshaft failure sidelined the car. Both drivers were back in action in the second shoot-out, but even a hard trying Ryder’s fine second place finish, just 13 hundredths behind Menzies’ winning time and with a mere half-second covering the first five cars, was not enough to retrieve the 26-year old’s Championship runner-up spot as Moran leaped into a four point advantage.
Skidblocks sparking furiously, Will Hall scored one of his best, and certainly most meritorious, results of the year in his new GR59 with second place in the opening run-off, just nine hundredths behind Menzies. But so hot was the pace in the second shoot-out that a time only half a second slower left him in fifth place. Having qualified top for the opening run-off, Alex Summers was in the mix throughout but with two fourth place finishes was still unable to rise above his series fourth place. He did, however, gain huge pleasure from seeing his own new car, the superb AFS P4t V6, performing in the hands of Trevor Willis. Having already had considerable technical input in the new car, Trevor was offered a last-minute drive after the engine in his own OMS-RPE suffered a suspected piston failure on Sunday morning. Alex’s father Richard promptly stood down and offered the seat and Trevor showed just why he was a 3-times champion, running within a second of qualifying pace despite never having driven the car before!
Richard Spedding was another to suffer problems, his Raptor stalling after the start in the opening run-off due to launch control problems. He got the car sorted for the closing bout to finish ninth. Having got to within a couple of tenths of her own Ladies’ hill record in first qualifying Nicola Menzies, having made the cut with exactly the same time as Jack Cottrill, went on to grab eighth place from Cottrill's DJ Dallara-Cosworth by three hundredths. Unlike Jack, Nicola qualified for the second run-off when unfortunately, the gearbox broke on the startline. This of course ruled out further participation by driving partner Dave Uren, the former Shelsley winner having earlier brought their venerable GR55-NME home in a competitive fifth place, just five hundredths behind Summers.
There were no such problems for Paul Haimes, his turbocharged GR59-Suzuki running perfectly to enable a first ever 23sec run up Shelsley in Q1, a feat he repeated in the second run-off as he harried the big V8s each time. Dave Warburton upheld the honour of the 1600cc racing class with seventh and eight places in the normally aspirated GR59-Suzuki. His delighted father Allan bagged his first points of the year for tenth place in the opening run-off, while it was Graham Wynn’s turn to take over the place in the closing bout.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Shelsley Walsh
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 22.93s
Championship run-off, round 11: 1 Wallace Menzies 22.93s; 2 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 23.02s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 23.05s; 4 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosorth XD) 23.20s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 23.25s; 6 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 24.34s; 7 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 24.47s; 8 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 24.91s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 24.94s; 10 Allan Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 25.49s; Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) DNF; Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) DNS.
Championship run-off, round 12: 1 Wallace Menzies 23.04s; 2 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 23.17s; 3 Moran 23.27s; 4 Summers 23.41s; 5 Hall 23.55s; 6 Gould 23.74s; 7 Haimes 23.99s; 8 David Warburton 24.66s; 9 Spedding 24.74s; 10 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 25.42s; Nicola Menzies DNS; Uren DNS.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 12: 1 Menzies 110pts; 2 Moran 90; 3 Ryder 86; 3; 4 Summers 76; 5 Gould 57; 6 Willis 51; 7= Uren and Hall 49; 9 Spedding 23; 10 Haimes 22; etc.
Wallace Menzies extended his Championship lead with a double run-off win (Stuart Wing)
Will Hall ran Menzies close in the opening run-off (Stuart Wing)
Matt Ryder missed the first run-off but bounced back strongly in the second (Stuart Wing)
Trevor Willis gave Alex Summers' new car its Shelsley debut (Stuart Wing)
MORAN'S GURSTON DOUBLE
Event 5 at Gurston Down on 28/05/2023
After missing a round the previous day due to a fuel leak, Scott Moran bounced back on the second day of Gurston Down’s BHC ‘double-header’ to become the first driver to score a double run-off win this year. Chased hard each time by series leader Wallace Menzies, who closed to within four hundredths of a second in the closing shoot-out, Moran’s wins were doubly satisfying after the hard work the team had put in the previous evening.
A damaged O-ring in the fuel injection system had caused the leak, but as it lay in the vee of the V8 engine, due to the ‘one-piece’ nature of the GR59 tub it was inaccessible without removing the engine. This was clearly not the work of a moment and with the complex reassembly job not finished until 10.00 pm on Saturday night, there were sighs of relief all round when the now fuel-tight Judd V8 was successfully fired up on Sunday morning.
Clocking mid-140s into Hollow and approaching 160mph over the finish line in each run-off, Moran’s rocket pace was all but matched by Menzies. While still holding third place in the Championship, Scott closed the gap to the series leader. In the process he closed to within three points of series second place man Matt Ryder. Having finished in fifth place in the opening run-off behind a resurgent Dave Uren, so hot was the pace in the closing shoot-out that even a run just three tenths shy of Moran’s winning time was only good enough for Ryder to bag fourth place.
As ever, competition between the British Championship contenders was not only high speed but close as Alex Summers, although not on winning pace this time, was only a tenth or so away from it and grabbed two third places, both a mere couple of hundredths behind perennial rival Menzies. In contrast to the previous day, Sean Gould now had to give best to a man less than half his age as he followed co-driver Ryder home in each run-off. With two more seventh place finishes, Trevor Willis had Paul Haimes snapping at his heels each time, the bike-engined GR59 turbocar closing to within a tenth of the 3-times champion in the late afternoon sunshine.
Jack Cottrill again made two run-off appearances in the DJ Dallara XD, edging out Graham Wynn’s GR59 for ninth place each time and ending the weekend just ourside the Championship top ten. Although finishing out of the points, Adam Greenen did a fine job to qualify his 1600cc Empire Evo3-Suzuki Evo 3 twice at Gurston. He withdrew from the second shoot-out after his brother Andy had also qualified the car. Unfortunately for their classmate, regular points score Dave Warburton who had twice qualified the 1600cc Gould-GR59 on Saturday, the car snapped into a 90⁰ spin out of Karousel with suspected gearbox problems and failed to appear again, losing his tenth place on the Championship table to Haimes in his smaller, turbocharged version.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down
FTD: Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 25.51s;
Championship run-off, round 9: 1 Moran 25.51s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 25.60s; 3 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.62s; 4 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 26.22s; 5 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 26.24s; 6 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 26.25s; 7 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 26.28s; 8 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 26.79s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 27.23s; 10 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 27.70s; 11 Adam Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 28.59s; David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 10: 1 Moran 25.55s; 2 Menzies 25.59s; 3 Summers 25.62s; 4 Ryder 25.87s; 5 Gould 26.36s; 6 Uren 26.49s; 7 Willis 26.77s; 8 Haimes 26.86s; 9 Cottrill 27.96s; 10 Wynn 28.06s; 11 Andrew Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 28.55s; Adam Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) DNS.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 10: 1 Menzies 90pts; 2 Ryder 77; 3 Moran 74; 4 Summers 62; 5 Gould 52; 6 Willis 51; 7 Uren 43; 8 Hall 34; 9 Richard Spedding 21; 10 Haimes 13; etc.
Scott Moran took the first double run-off win of the season (Ian Beard)
Dave Uren scored his best result of the year with a fourth place finish (Ian Beard)
Paul Haimes moved into the Championship top ten (Steve Lister)
Jack Cottrill scored in the DJ Dallara throughout the weekend, ending it just outside the Championship top ten (Ian Beard)
SUMMERS BACK ON SONG
Event 4 at Gurston Down on 27/05/2023
After a dire weekend at Harewood where he’d failed to get into either run-off, Alex Summers and the DJ Firehawk were back on top form at Gurston Down. Electrical problems had blunted the 2015 champion’s challenge for much of this season, but with the fault traced to the car’s master switch, modifications proved effective and after finishing in second place in the opening run-off, just twelve hundredths behind perennial adversary Wallace Menzies, a delighted and relieved Summers took his first win of the year in the second shoot-out.
Menzies had to settle for third place in the second bout. Boosted by an earlier fifth place, an on-form Sean Gould blasted the GR59 past the defending champion for his best finish of the year so far in his own GR59, but at the end of the first day of the Championship’s only ‘double-header’ weekend of the 2023 season, Menzies still enjoyed an 8-point series lead over Matt Ryder’s GR59 shared with constructor Gould. After five runner-up placings this year Ryder’s Gurston performance was somewhat more subdued, despite running a mere second off the pace each time, in sixth and fourth places respectively.
It was the third placed man on the Championship table, Scott Moran, that chased home the two leaders early on. But a fuel leak, discovered after co-driver Graham Wynn had taken his second qualifying run, prevented the 6-time champion from coming out for his own qualifier and both drivers were unable to take any further part in proceedings.
Will Hall was flying in the opening run-off, his new GR59 clocking a day’s best 148mph down the hill into Hollow Bend. Fourth place was encouraging for the Midlander, but his hopes were to be dashed later when the car stuttered to the finish on his second qualifier with an initially untraceable problem, after which he loaded up the car and withdrew from Sunday’s event.
As expected, Trevor Willis was a trifle outgunned in the power stakes at Gurston, his flamboyant style in the OMS-RPE netting seventh place each time. He managed to eke out a slender three hundredths over Dave Uren in the opening bout, but the driver of the venerable ex.Groves Gould GR55B swept past into fifth place later on, as did Paul Haimes, with a season’s best sixth place in the turbocharged, bike-engined GR59, the car’s early season differential housing problems now solved.
Heading Haimes early on, Jack Cottrill scored his first points of the year with ninth place, improving to eighth later in his DJ developed Dallara-Cosworth XD as he ran a tenth clear of Johnathen Varley’s svelte 2-litre Predator-TKD SV8. Dave Warburton finished just out of the points in the opening run-off, as did Graham Wynn, but he salvaged a point in the final bout ahead of Nicola Menzies in the GR55, who had closed to within twelve hundredths of Sue Young’s 6-year old Ladies’ record in qualifying.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 25.46s
Championship run-off, round 7: 1 Menzies 25.46s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.58s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 26.08s; 4 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 26.16s; 5 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 26.39s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 26.58s; 7 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 27.04s; 8 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 27.07s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 27.27s; 10 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 27.37s; 11 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.03s; 12 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 28.53s.
Championship run-off, round 8: 1 Summers 25.67s; 2 Gould 26.24s; 3 Wallace Menzies 26.33s;
4 Ryder 26.76s; 5 Uren 26.84s; 6 Haimes 27.14s; 7 Willis 27.37s; 8 Cottrill 28.17s; 9 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 28.28s; 10 Warburton 28.31s; 11 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 28.81s; 12 Wynn DNS.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 8: 1 Menzies 72pts; 2 Ryder 64; 3 Moran 54; 4 Summers 46; 5 Willis 43; 6 Gould 41; 7 Hall 34; 8 Uren 31; 9 Richard Spedding 21; 10 Warburton 9; etc.
A relieved Alex Summers collected his first BHC run-off win of the season (Ian Beard)
Still well in charge of this year's Championship, Wallace Menzies won the opening run-off (Steve Lister)
Sean Gould scored his best result of the year so far with a second place finish (Steve Lister)
Trevor Willis struggled to match the front runners on Gurston's power slopes (Steve Lister)
ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR MORAN
Event 3 at Harewood on 07/05/2023
In clocking up his 167th British Championship round win at Harewood, the venue where he not only scored his very first BHC round win 20 years ago but also where, ten years later, he first exceeded the 104 round win record of closest rival Martin Groves, another ten years further on Scott Moran set another personal milestone. With a win in the opening run-off at the Stockton Farm venue’s May meeting he became the first driver in the history of the 76-year-old series to score over 4000 British Championship points.
He did it in style with a 47.71sec FTD, over a quarter of a second clear of young charger Matt Ryder, the pair confining Wallace Menzies to third place to complete a 1/2/3 finish for the Gould company’s GR59s. The defending triple champion fought back in the closing run-off, snatching the win from Ryder by just three hundredths of a second. Into third place came Will Hall, rapidly dialling in his new Gould despite finishing seventh in the opening shoot-out, following a big lock-up into the second part of Harewood’s notorious sting in the tail, the ever-tightening Quarry Corner before the finish line. After qualifying top, Moran had to be content with fourth place, a second behind the leader, but ensuring that this time it was now a quartet of the latest Goulds that led the way. Unfortunately for Alex Summers, he was unable to mount his usual challenge, ongoing electrical issues sidelining the Firestorm-XD after the car had ground to a halt during the opening qualifying runs. A zero points score for the day meant that he dropped back to fifth place on the Championship table and now faces a long haul if he is to challenge Menzies’ bid for a fourth successive title. That challenge now looks set to come from Ryder, who remains within two points of the series leader and six points clear of the third placed Moran.
Shadowing the leading group in fourth and fifth places respectively was Trevor Willis, as ever giving it everything in the relatively underpowered OMS-RPE V8 and almost collecting a penalty after sliding across the finish line boundary at Quarry on his final run. Behind Willis and split by fifteen hundredths in the opening run-off, Dave Uren and Sean Gould battled mightily in their own Goulds – Dave’s GR55B and Sean’s GR59J built some 14 years apart – reversing their positions in the second run-off. First of the 1600s home in round 5, local man Richard Spedding failed to catch Hall’s tyre-smoking Gould by two hundredths in the opening bout, his eighth placed Raptor-Suzuki chased hard by Johnathen Varley’s 2-litre Predator-YV8 as Spedding’s classmate David Warburton took the final point in his GR59-Suzuki. But a spin at Quarry left Varley out of the points in round 6, while Warburton swept through to demote Spedding to ninth place.
With a fine performance in his new Firehawk-Suzuki, built up from an unused chassis dating back to 2017, 1100cc class winner David Tatham made the run-off cut each time with the day’s eleventh fastest time overall. A 90º spin at Country Corner in the opening run-off left him with no score, but with a return to form in the closing bout he grabbed the final point. Also making the cut, but finishing out of the points, were 1600cc runners Andy Greenen and Darren Gumbley who replaced each other in successive run-offs, Gumbley joining the long list of drivers to spin over the finish line at Quarry and have their time disallowed for exceeding track limits.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Harewood
FTD: Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 47.71s
Championship run-off, round 5: 1 Moran 47.71s; 2 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 48.02s; 3 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 48.21s; 4 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 48.65s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 49.05s; 6 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 49.20s; 7 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 49.30s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 49.32s; 9 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 50.07s; 10 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 50.18s; 11 Andrew Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 53.08s; David Tatham (1.1 DJ Firehawk Mk3-Suzuki) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 6: 1 Menzies 48.18s; 2 Ryder 48.21s; 3 Hall 49.14s; 4 Moran 49.18s; 5 Willis 49.28s; 6 Gould 49.68s; 7 Uren 50.17s; 8 Warburton 50.19s; 9 Spedding 50.23s; 10 Tatham 52.69s; 11 Varley 91.68s; 12 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) DNF.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 6: 1 Menzies 54pts; 2 Ryder 52; 3 Moran 46; 4 Willis 35; 5= Hall and Alex Summers 27; 7 Gould 26; 8 Uren 22; 9 Spedding 21; 10 Warburton 8; etc.
Scott Moran's BHC points total has now exceeded 4000 (Steve Wilkinson)
Wallace Menzies continues to lead the Championship... (Steve Wilkinson)
Matt Ryder is still mounting a strong challenge (Steve Wilkinson)
Dave Tatham qualified his 1-litre Firehawk for the run-off each time (Steve Wilkinson)
MENZIES MASTERS THE MURK
Event 2 at Craigantlet on 29/04/2023
On a murky Ulster Saturday, plagued by fog then rain, with a little brightness in between, battle was rejoined for event two of the British Hillclimb Championship, this time through the country lanes above Belfast. In changeable conditions, with a third place and a win Wallace Menzies left the Province having pulled out a two point Championship lead over Matt Ryder, thereby taking his customary spot at the head of the table.
There was drama during Saturday morning’s practice for this one-day meeting. Graham Wynn lost the Gould-Judd on the exit of the fast right-hander out onto the main road, just before the finish, putting the Gould-Judd into the hedge to the detriment of the car’s rear wing. With no spare available co-driver Scott Moran, third in the Championship and with valuable points at stake, took up the offer of a shared drive in Will Hall’s new and still unpainted GR59J.
It was still dry for the qualifying runs for the opening run-off, when Alex Summers was back on form to book his place at the top of the list with a 39.97s in the Firestorm-XD. This would turn out to be FTD, as rain set in shortly after the start of the run-off itself. This played into the hands of the early runners. Among them was a delighted Hall who, as second car on the hill, would take a popular if unexpected win in his new car on only its second outing, running half a second clear of the following runner, joint Championship leader Matt Ryder in the ‘semi-works’ GR59-Judd shared with constructor Sean Gould..
But then, as Darren Gumbley brought his little Force to the line, the rain arrived. The Teme Valley driver set a competitive time, despite a steadily dampening road surface, as did fellow 1600cc runner Richard Spedding in the Raptor, but the bigger engined cars that followed were unable to get their power down as conditions worsened and times suffered.
However a drop of rain failed to concern a determined Wallace Menzies. The penultimate runner promptly set third fastest time against the run of play with a sensational display of controlled aggression. Even top qualifier Summers was unable to match the defending champion’s time, having to settle for fifth place behind Spedding but ahead of fellow top contenders Moran, Gould and Trevor Willis. Paul Haimes rounded off the points scorers in his turbocharged, bike engine GR59 but the worsening conditions left Dave Uren, the joint hill record holder having qualified third fastest in his Gould-NME, and David Warburton’s GR59, out of the points.
The track was still wet for the second run-off, but now it was the same for everyone. By this time Paul Haimes’ troublesome Gould had retired hurt with differential woes, allowing Nicola Menzies to qualify. Quickest was the unstoppable Wallace Menzies with a 42.01s shot, 0.6s clear of Summers, who was now free of throttle sensor troubles that had plagued him during practice. Moran, rapidly familiarising himself with Hall’s car, was a further second adrift, almost two seconds up on Ryder, while Willis’ freshly painted (a fetching Porsche Oyster Blue, in case you were wondering) OMS was but five hundredths behind. Gould was six tenths further adrift, a bare tenth ahead of Uren, while Hall, Spedding (enduring both a bird strike and a misfire) and Warburton completed the points scorers some distance behind, leaving Gumbley and Mrs Menzies out of the points.
Despite the conditions, the Ulster Automobile Club had kept the show on the road in typically good humoured style, even forgoing a lunch break, which ensured that, as ever, competitors left Northern Ireland with positive memories.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Craigantlet
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 39.97s
Championship run-off, round 3: 1 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 40.63s; 2 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 41.14s; 3 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 43.59s; 4 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 44.63; 5 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 45.07s; 6 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 45.25s; 7 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 45.40s; 8 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 47.51s; 9 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 47.99s; 10 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 48.80s; 11 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 49.33s; 12 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 50.00s.
Championship run-off, round 4: 1 Menzies 42.01s; 2 Summers 42.61s; 3 Moran 43.81s; 4 Ryder 45.62s; 5 Willis 45.67s; 6 Gould 46.35s; 7 Uren 46.45s; 8 Hall 46.86s; 9 Spedding 47.51s; 10 Warburton 48.02s; 11 Gumbley 49.01s; 12 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 49.97s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 4: 1 Menzies 36pts; 2 Ryder 34; 3 Moran 29; 4 Summers 27; 5 Willis 22; 6= Gould and Spedding 16; 8 Hall 15; 9 Uren 12; 10 Gumbley 7; etc.
Wallace Menzies took sole charge of the Championship with another fine performance at Craigantlet (Leslie McMullan)
Aided by the weather, Will Hall took a run-off win on only his second appearance in his new Gould (Leslie McMullan)
With second and fourth place finishes, Matt Ryder is still chasing Menzies' series lead (Leslie McMullan)
Alex Summers set the day's outright pace during qualifying for the opening run-off (Leslie McMullan)
TIGHT AT THE TOP
Event 1 at Prescott on 23/04/2023
Any thoughts of this year’s British Championship being a carbon copy of previous years were dispelled at Prescott’s season opener. True to form, in opening his campaign for a fourth successive title Wallace Menzies set the day’s outright pace when he took the opening run-off win, but it was a different story in the afternoon. He had to settle for third place behind a hard trying Scott Moran and the ever impressive Matt Ryder, who left Prescott tied with Menzies at the top of the Championship table.
Rocket starts and his usual flawless technique gave Menzies the initial edge in his Gould-XD and he qualified top for each run-off, pulling out a half-second win over Ryder in the morning, with Trevor Willis a tenth further behind after a similar sub-2sec start in the ‘evergreen’ OMS-RPE – except that a new coat of blue paint is just one of the off-season improvements to the chassis he’s run for the last twelve years. As with many drivers on the day, Scott Moran’s brief snap of oversteer on the exit of the last Ess may have cost fractions and he just failed to catch Willis. The six-time champion was back in contention for the afternoon run-off, joining a top four qualifying group covered by just 16 hundredths of a second. At the rear of the quartet was Menzies’ perennial rival Alex Summers, who had struggled to keep the Firestorm in touch in the morning run-off, locking a front wheel under braking into Ettores. Summers was never quite on the pace, uncharacteristic 5th and 4th place finishes finally leaving him an unaccustomed fifth on the series table by the end of the meeting. In contrast, Ryder was flying in the ‘semi-works’ Gould, shared with constructor Sean Gould, his joint Championship lead well earned with two runner-up finishes.
Leaving Prescott just a single point behind the joint leaders, Scott Moran had more than made up for missing the podium in the opening run-off, producing a massive effort on the closing shoot-out. After a day’s best 111mph through the speed trap under the Bridge into Orchard had prompted a lurid twitch on the exit of the fast left-hander, he snatched the win from Ryder’s grasp by two tenths. Last to run, Menzies failed to match either of them.
Richard Spedding was back on giant-killing form in the normally aspirated 1600cc Raptor-Suzuki, qualifying sixth each time and easing Dave Uren’s Gould-NME V8 down to seventh place in the first shoot-out. The Craigantlet joint record-holder reversed the order in the afternoon by a hundredth, although former Prescott record-holder Gould squeezed in front of both of them. On the first competition appearance of his new Gould-Judd GR59, Will Hall was unfortunate to understeer into Ettores’ Recticel barrier during Sunday morning practice. Damage was slight, confined to the front wing mounting, and Hall was soon back out in the unpainted, carbon-tubbed machine, making the cut each time and bringing the GR59 in the points in the afternoon as he edged Dave Warburton’s 1600cc Suzuki powered version down to tenth. In his inimitable sideways style, Eynon Price had occupied the place before lunch, but the Force with its ‘stretched’ Suzuki unit failed to qualify in the afternoon, giving way to Paul Haimes who, after a fraught Saturday practice with mechanical problems, finally made the cut in his Gould-Suzuki turbocar. Johnathen Varley made the cut each time in the Predator-TKD, but without getting a score on the board.
With just six days before Northern Ireland’s Craigantlet rounds and Harewood in Yorkshire the following weekend, it’s a hectic start to what looks like being another excitingly close fought British Championship year.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Prescott
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.73s
Championship run-off, round 1: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.73s; 2 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 36.30s; 3 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 36.41s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 36.58; 5 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 36.91s; 6 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 37.26s; 7 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 37.29s; 8 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 37.35s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.60s; 10 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 38.49s; 11 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59J) 38.72s; 12 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 38.74s.
Championship run-off, round 2: 1 Moran 35.78s; 2 Ryder 35.99s; 3 Menzies 36.14s; 4 Summers 36.85s; 5 Willis 36.87s; 6 Gould 37.07s; 7 Uren 37.47s; 8 Spedding 37.48s; 9 Hall 37.51s; 10 Warburton 37.56s; 11 Varley 38.49s; 12 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 39.17s.
British Hillclimb Championship positions after round 2: 1= Menzies and Ryder 18pts; 3 Moran 17; 4 Willis 14; 5 Summers 13; 6= Gould, Spedding and Uren 8; 9 Warburton 3; 10 Hall 2; etc.
With two second place run-off finishes, Matt Ryder holds the joint Championship lead (Stuart Wing)
Wallace Menzies took the first run-off with FTD but slipped to third place in the second (Stuart Wing)
With a win in the second run-off Scott Moran is challenging the series leaders (Stuart Wing)
Prescott saw the first outing for Will Hall's new Gould (Stuart Wing)
MENZIES' TITLE AT DRAMATIC LOTON FINALE
Event 16 at Loton Park on 25/09/2022
One of the closest fought British Championship series for years ended in drama. Coming to Loton Park’s finale after their year-long duel, either Wallace Menzies or Alex Summers could win the title.
The odds were marginally in favour of Menzies, and he had qualified top for the opening run-off ahead of Summers. With both still to run in the shoot-out itself, third fastest qualifier Scott Moran led the way with a mid-32. Next up, Summers was on a real stormer, the hill record looking under threat with a run almost seven tenths up on Moran by the end of Cedar Straight. Then coming into Museum, Alex lost the back end and spun on to the grass, the Firestorm striking the tyre barrier a glancing blow before coming to a halt. The car was undamaged but with no score, Alex’s title hopes had been dashed. Wallace was now champion. Not even a record run by Alex in the remaining shoot-out would be enough to overhaul his adversary’s points tally.
Even with the Championship in the bag Menzies, typically, still gave it everything on the final run. Half a second clear of Moran, he underlined his claim to a third successive title with FTD and his twelfth run-off win of the year.
With the Championship outcome already decided, the final run-off of the year could have been something of an anti-climax. Far from it. The leading duo continued their battle right to the end, Menzies shading out Summers for the win by a mere five hundredths despite his GR59 running wide on the exit of Fallow. Fittingly, the 2022 Championship top three finished in order as Moran chased Summers home to round off a superb year of competition among the front runners.
Trevor Willis consolidated his third place on the series table with a strong run to third place in the morning shoot-out, but he was denied fourth place in the afternoon by 2022’s ‘coming man’ Matt Ryder, who had missed the earlier points battle after skating the GR59-Judd straight on at Hall bend during qualifying. Nonetheless, the youngest member of this year’s ‘top ten’ had completed an excellent first year in the big league by qualifying for a number 5 on his car next year. Fifth on the series table, Dave Uren, after a year of highs and lows in the Gould GR55B, ran third in the morning, clocking well over 130mph up Cedar Straight. But with Summers and Ryder back in the afternoon he dropped to sixth place. Safe in a Championship seventh place, Richard Spedding’s Raptor was not seen in either run-off after brake problems had caused an unscheduled trip into the Fallow outfield during qualifying. Nose, front wing and steering arms were the only casualties but with his series placing secure, Richard decided on an early bath. Perhaps his major disappointment was that the miniature raptor he’d carried on the car’s front wing strut for years had lost its head!
Sixth and seventh in successive run-offs, Paul Haimes will be starting 2023 with a number 8 on the supercharged Gould-Suzuki, one place ahead of Dave Warburton in his normally aspirated version who gave a stirring performance at Loton. He not only beat Haimes to take fifth place in the opening run-off, equalling his best of the year at Doune, but twice dispatched Jos Goodyear’s 10-year old 1600cc class record in qualifying. Also enjoying a great weekend, Johnathen Varley twice improved on what was his own 2-litre class record in the Predator-TKD, as well as scoring points in each run-off.
Eighth each time, Sean Gould also figured in both run-offs with the ‘semi-works’ GR59, while two of our quickest lady drivers, Olivia Cooper and Nicola Menzies, made the morning cut, Olivia just in the points ahead of Nicola as Eynon Price headed them home for ninth place. Unfortunately, the Welshman would lose his number 10 for next year as it was taken over by delighted Stuart Sugden. Although he failed to qualify at Loton, it was a great effort by the former Mini driver, a relative newcomer to the big league aboard the Raptor shared with fellow Scot Les Mutch.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Loton Park
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 42.19s
Championship run-off, round 29: 1 Wallace Menzies 42.19s; 2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 42.67s; 3 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 43.22s; 4 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 43.80s; 5 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 44.47s; 6 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 44.68s; 7 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 45.01s; 8 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 45.22s; 9 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 46.43s; 10 Olivia Cooper (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 47.09s; 11 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 47.92s; Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 30: 1 Wallace Menzies 42.41s; 2 Summers 42.46s; 3 Moran 42.83s; 4 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 43.21s; 5 Willis 43.74s; 6 Uren 44.21s; 7 Haimes 44.46s; 8 Gould 44.70s; 9 Warburton 45.05s; 10 Varley 45.22s; 11 Price 46.37s; 12 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 46.70s.
British Hillclimb Championship – final positions: 1 Wallace Menzies 234 pts; 2 Alex Summers 220; 3 Moran 212; 4 Willis 164; 5 Ryder 154; 6 Uren 134; 7 Richard Spedding 95; 8 Haimes 60; 9 Warburton 52; 10 Sugden 27; etc.
Wallace Menzies takes a third consecutive British title (John Hallett)
The moment that decided the Championship (John Hallett)
It was a record-breaking day for Dave Warburton (John Hallett)
The Championship top ten at the end of a hard fought season (John Hallett)
DRAMATIC DAMP PRESCOTT
Event 15 at Prescott on 04/09/2022
On the penultimate weekend of their season-long British Championship battle, Wallace Menzies and Alex Summers staged another close head-to-head duel. This time it was Menzies’ turn to come out on top, setting FTD by just six hundredths of a second from Summers in a dramatic second shoot-out. Earlier, rain had begun halfway through the opening bout to leave both drivers, together with the majority of the BHC top runners, finishing near the tail end of the field with highly discardable scores. But fittingly, this tight title chase would now go down to the wire at Loton Park’s traditional season finale.
Dave Uren, for one, benefited from the rain during the opening run-off as from an unaccustomed ninth place qualifying spot he took full advantage of the still dry track, taking the Gould-NME to its second win of the season. Paul Haimes, too, just missed the rain and set a time good enough for second place. It was by far his best result in the often recalcitrant Gould-Suzuki turbocar and his own best finish since his V6 Dallara win at Doune in 2004. But the fickle weather played against him in the afternoon, and he failed to qualify for the closing run-off. Stuart Sugden, sharing the Raptor with fellow Scot Les Mutch, had the best weekend of his BHC career, finishing a best-ever third in the opening run-off and making the cut in the afternoon for an eventual sixth place. The combined result would put the former Mini ace firmly into the top ten on the Championship table after scoring in just six rounds this year.
Chased home by Darren Gumbley, Johnathen Varley finished fourth with both drivers scoring their best-ever British run-off finishes. Dave Warburton scraped home in the top six just as the rain started, although none of the three would make the afternoon cut. Despite a big lift after running wide on Esses exit, Jack Cottrill scored a best-ever seventh place in the DJ Dallara-XD and finished ahead of Menzies, Richard Spedding, Summers and Trevor Willis, all of whom caught the rain. Top qualifier Scott Moran saw no point in running and remained in the paddock.
It was an entirely different story in the afternoon as the rain returned during the qualifying runs. This meant that the advantage lay with the earlier running single-seaters. Notable run-off absentees this time were Haimes and Spedding, but a gradual improvement in the weather saw Uren scrape into Q12, while key runners Willis, Moran, Summers and Menzies also found enough dry road to make the cut. Of the top six Championship contenders, only Matt Ryder was absent as the Gould-Judd’s gearbox had expired during Sunday morning practice, leaving both him and Sean Gould sidelined for the day.
The changeable weather during the afternoon also meant that three members of the same family, Alex Summers, his wife Debbie and his father Richard, all qualified for the second run-off. A rare occurrence, but not unique as the Ulster-based Woodside and Morgan families had both fielded three members in Craigantlet run-offs in 1997 and 1998 respectively. However, it did mark the first British run-off appearance for Richard, a feat matched by both David Tatham and Nigel Pitt, with Tatham bringing his 1-litre OMS Hornet-Suzuki home in the points with eighth place just ahead of Liam Cooper, who scored his first points of the year in his Force-Suzuki TA.
Behind the duel up front, Willis led home Moran, with Uren having to settle for fifth place this time ahead of the flying Sugden. Debbie Summers completed the family trio’s appearance by chasing the Raptor home in the smaller-engined Firehawk, scoring her own first points of the year in a run-off unlike any other we’ve seen this year.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Prescott
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.05s
Championship run-off, round 27: 1 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 37.09s; 2 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.38s; 3 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor 1-Suzuki) 38.05s; 4 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 38.32s; 5 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 38.69s; 6 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 39.75s; 7 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 40.05s; 8 Menzies 41.93s; 9 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 42.40s; 10 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 42.44s; 11 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 44.98s; Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) DNS.
Championship run-off, round 28: 1 Menzies 35.05s; 2 Alex Summers 35.11s; 3 Willis 35.61s; 4 Moran 35.65s; 5 Uren 37.31s; 6 Sugden 37.49s; 7 Debbie Summers (1.1 DJ Firehawk-Suzuki) 39.17s; 8 David Tatham (1.1 OMS Hornet-Suzuki) 39.74s; 9 Liam Cooper (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 40.00s; 10 Harry Pick (1.0 OMS-Suzuki 3000M) 40.10s; 11 Richard Summers (1.1 DJ Firehawk-Suzuki) 40.13s; 12 Nigel Pitt (1.0 OMS-Suzuki 3000M) 40.97s.
British Championship positions after round 28: 1 Menzies 230pts; 2 Summers 225; 3 Moran 208; 4 Willis 160; 5 Ryder 147; 6 Uren 122; 7 Spedding 95; 8 Haimes 51; 9 Warburton 44; 10 Sugden 27; etc.
Walace Menzies edged out rival Alex Summers for FTD by six hundredths (John Hallett)
Summers fought hard to take the title to a Loton Park decider (John Hallett)
Dave Uren took his second win of the year (John Hallett)
With third place in the opening run-off, Stuart Sugden moved into the Championship top ten (John Hallett)
HEAT BUILDS UP AT SHELSLEY
Event 14 at Shelsley Walsh on 14/08/2022
Matt Ryder took the second run-off win of his BHC career at a sweltering Shelsley in a time just seven hundredths of a second shy of Sean Gould’s hill record, set exactly a year ago in the same car. A number of factors, not least temperatures in the mid-nineties all weekend, caused the meeting to run well behind schedule and with time running short it was abandoned after the first BHC run-off. The entire set of second runs, including the second run-off, were therefore cancelled.
But what a run-off we’d seen earlier. Behind Ryder’s stellar performance in the Gould-Judd, in which he topped 160mph over the line to carve almost a second off his fourth placed qualifying time, the Championship front-runners’ relentless season-long battle raged on. Three of the top four were starting to drop points, the exception being Alex Summers following his no-show at July’s opening Harewood round. But with series leader Wallace Menzies and Scott Moran both setting identical times in pursuit of Ryder, an understeering moment in the Esses left the Firestorm driver having to settle for fourth place despite joining the top three in the 22 sec bracket. Nevertheless, his deficit to Menzies in the Championship was now just five points. Despite Moran chasing the two leaders hard, the series now looks to be a two-horse race and with just four rounds remaining, two each at Prescott and Loton Park, and Summers set to drop fewer points than Menzies, this nail-biting contest looks likely to go down to a showdown in Shropshire.
Two drivers fought it out in the 23s at Shelsley with Dave Uren slightly increasing his qualifying advantage over Trevor Willis, although the RPE V8 driver will have to work hard in the remaining rounds to fend off a last-ditch attack on his Championship fourth place by the steadily advancing Ryder, only nine points behind and not dropping points until Loton. Seventh in the run-off, current record-holder Sean Gould warmed up the Gould-Judd (as if it needed it!) for Ryder as the fastest runner in the 24s, keeping fastest non-V8 runner Richard Spedding’s bike engined Raptor at bay by a quarter of a second. Graham Wynn, also clocking 160 plus over the finish in the Gould-Judd shared with Moran, led home final points scorer Jack Cottrill by nine hundredths, the young driver from Upton Snodsbury making his seventh run-off appearance this year in the DJ developed Dallara-XD,
Dave Warburton finished out of the points this time with the Gould-Suzuki, although with closest rival Will Hall 13 points behind and unlikely to make a further appearance this year, he is virtually assured of another ‘number nine’ for 2023. Whether he can make it to number eight is between him and Paul Haimes. The Gould-Suzuki turbocar driver had another troubled weekend at Shelsley, retiring the car after Saturday practice, and remains just three points clear of Warburton. Zach Zammit was the remaining driver to make the cut in his Empire Wraith. With plenty of startline grip available, the man from Malta was one of seven drivers in the run-off to achieve a sub-2sec launch on a day when the pace, as well as the temperature, was blisteringly hot.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Shelsley Walsh
FTD: Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 22.44s;
Championship run-off, round 25: 1 Ryder 22.44s; 2= Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 22.65s; 2= Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 22.65s; 4 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 22.91s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 23.31s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 23.57s; 7 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 24.23s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 24.48s; 9 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 24.80s; 10 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 24.89s; 11 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 25.08s; 12 Zach Zammit (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 25.24s.
Championship run-off, round 26: Cancelled due to time constraints
British Championship positions after round 26: 1 Menzies 228pts; 2 Summers 223; 3 Moran 207; 4 Willis 157; 5 Ryder 147; 6 Uren 106; 7 Spedding 93; 8 Paul Haimes 42; 9 Warburton 39; 10 Will Hall 26; etc.
Matt Ryder headed the Championship leaders for his second win of the season (John Hallett)
With joint second place, Wallace Menzies maintained his Championship lead (John Hallett)
Scott Moran tied with Menzies for the runner-up spot (John Hallett)
Even with fourth place, Alex Summers strengthened his attack on the Championship leader (John Hallett)
Event 12 at Wiscombe Park on 30/07/2022
Wiscombe Park celebrated its 60th anniversary as a British Championship venue in style, the battle at the head of this year’s enthralling series intensifying with yet another meeting held at record pace. In an experimental format which saw each of the two British run-offs held on separate days, Alex Summers again narrowed championship leader Wallace Menzies’ advantage, taking the Devon parkland’s benchmark below 33 seconds for the first time on Saturday’s round to set his fourth new hill record of the season. In the latest instalment of their season-long duel, Menzies replied with a win the following day, hurling the red GR59-XD to the summit in a time that missed Summers’ new 32.94s target by just one hundredth of a second. So close was the competition up front on Sunday that after qualifying within two hundredths of his new record, even a low 33sec run just outside the old mark left the Firestorm driver having to settle for third place in the run-off behind a resurgent Scott Moran. After languishing in fifth place on Saturday’s run-off, the six-times champion now became the third driver to climb Wiscombe Park in the 32sec bracket.
Former Wiscombe record-holder Trevor Willis chased home Summers and Menzies on Saturday, shadowed by his closest championship rival Matt Ryder. The Gould GR59-Judd driver produced an almost identical time on Sunday as he took his second fourth place finish of the weekend. Three hundredths clear of Willis this time, Ryder closed in on the OMS V8 driver on the series table. It was good to see Sean Gould out for the first time this year following his shoulder injury and sharing the ‘works’ car with Ryder. Although out of the points on Saturday, the Shelsley record-holder was quickly back to somewhere near his previous form and with a sixth place finish the following day, was looking forward to the next two rounds, when he would return to the scene of his 2021 success.
Paul Haimes brought the turbocharged GR59 home for a top six finish on Saturday, a couple of places behind championship rival Dave Warburton but on Sunday, despite finding a tenth of a second more, he dropped to ninth. However Warburton had narrowly failed to qualify for the run-off and the net result was that Haimes moved ahead on the series table to relieve him of eighth place overall. Splitting the pair on Saturday was Richard Spedding with seventh place in the GWR Raptor-Suzuki but the following day he was edged out to ninth place by the man just ahead of him on the table, Dave Uren. The Gould-NME driver was relieved to be back in the running after being sidelined on the Saturday when the car’s battery cover caught fire as he was leaving the paddock for his first qualifying run.
Eynon Price and Johnathen Varley rounded off the scorers on Saturday, but both failed to get to the top during Sunday’s run-off. Varley’s Predator understeered into the bank at Wiscombe’s sting in the tail, Martini, while the Hayabusa engine in Price's Force TA cut out on Castle Straight almost within sight of the finish. After trailing the field the previous day, Darren Gumbley stepped in to bag the final point in his own Force TA.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Wiscombe Park
FTD (Saturday): Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 32.94s (outright hill record)
FTD (Sunday): Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 32.95s
Championship run-off, round 23: 1 Summers 32.94s; 2 Menzies 33.20s; 3 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 33.57s; 4 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 33.69s; 5 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 33.75s; 6 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 34.93s; 7 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 35.11s; 8 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 35.41s; 9 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 35.48s; 10 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 35.59s; 11 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 35.61s; 12 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 36.18s.
Championship run-off, round 24: 1 Menzies 32.95s; 2 Moran 32.98s; 3 Summers 33.16s; 4 Ryder 33.65s; 5 Willis 33.68s; 6 Gould 34.07s; 7 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 34.42s; 8 Spedding 34.73s; 9 Haimes 34.83s; 10 Gumbley 36.76s; Price DNF; Varley DNF.
British Championship positions after round 24: 1 Menzies 225pts; 2 Summers 216; 3 Moran 204; 4 Willis 152; 5 Matt Ryder 137; 6 Uren 100; 7 Spedding 90; 8 Haimes 42; 9 Warburton 39; 10 Will Hall 26; etc.
Alex Summers took his fourth hill record of of 2022 with Wiscombe's first 32sec run (Nigel Cole)
Wallace Menzies closed to within a hundredth of the new record to take Sunday's win (Nigel Cole)
Scott Moran joined the two Championship leaders in the 32s (Nigel Cole)
Top 4 Championship runner Trevor Willis cuts it fine at Martini (Nigel Cole)
RECORD PACE IN GUERNSEY
Event 11 at Le Val Des Terres on 16/07/2022
With another fine performance at Le Val des Terres, Wallace Menzies increased his Championship lead. As ever, the level of competition was intense as in each run-off, the two front runners each gained the extra point for running inside Scott Moran’s 2015 hill record. This time it was Alex Summers that took top honours on the day with a record shot in the opening run-off of 26.56s, Menzies closing to within a hundredth for second place to stay within a point of his rival to leave Moran, although just outside his old record, in third place. Amazingly, the Championship leader set an identical time in the closing run-off to take the win, his third on this year’s Channel Islands trip, from Moran, who also ran inside his old record. But critically, Summers could do no better than fourth place as he struggled to find front-end grip. So as the season-long battle still rages at the sharp end, Menzies left Guernsey with a nine-point lead, although with Summers having failed to score at Harewood due to a fuel pump failure, the battling duo up front are effectively just about level. When competitors start to drop points after the next event at Wiscombe Park, the stage will be set for a tremendous battle over the remaining six rounds.
Behind the trio up front, Richard Spedding chased hard for fourth place in the opening bout and found even more time in the second, edging out Summers’ understeering Firestorm to bring the bike-engined Raptor home in third place, his best result of the season. Expected to fly on home ground, Nick Saunders did not disappoint, entering into a see-saw duel with Trevor Willis. Split by a tenth or so each time, Willis took the initiative in the first run-off with fifth place in the OMS-RPE, but the Guernseyman posted the best time of their two-round battle to snatch the place in the second shoot-out with his self-developed Reynick. Despite the Championship’s leading trio being somewhat out of reach, Trevor, consolidated his fourth place on the table and increased his lead over the fifth placed Matt Ryder. The Channel Islands newcomer was unfortunate to miss both run-offs, front end damage sustained following a spin during first qualifying eliminating his Gould-Judd.
On their home tracks, on which they compete several times during the year, the local drivers always relish the chance to mix it with the top British hillclimbers and in a fine performance in his relatively underpowered 1-litre Empire another Guernseyman, Tim Tulie, shadowed the battling Willis/Saunders duo for seventh place each time. Local drivers Matt Bougourd and Steve Brehaut also got in on the act and into the points each time, Brehaut bagging the final point in each run-off aboard his Empire Evo 3-Suzuki and Bougourd going one better in the second run-off with his similarly powered Force HC. After an indifferent showing at Bouley Bay, Dave Uren was happy to get points for eighth place early on, ahead of Dave Warburton’s GR59, although it proved a disappointing Channel Islands foray for the Gould-NME driver as he finished out of the points in the closing shoot-out together with an equally disappointed Paul Haimes. The same fate befell BHC regulars Darren Gumbley and Lee Griffiths in the opening run-off.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Le Val des Terres
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 26.56s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 21: 1 Summers 26.56s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 26.57s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 27.06s; 4 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 27.31s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 27.52s; 6 Nick Saunders (1.6 Reynick-Suzuki) 27.63s; 7 Tim Tulie (1.1 Empire-Suzuki) 28.15s; 8 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 28.40s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.59s; 10 Steve Brehaut (1.4 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 28.66s; 11 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 29.52s; 12 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 29.59s.
Championship run-off, round 22: 1 Menzies 26.57s; 2 Moran 26.86s; 3 Spedding 27.12s; 4 Summers 27.25s; 5 Saunders 27.48s; 6 Willis 27.62s; 7 Tulie 28.08s; 8 Warburton 28.14s; 9 Matthew Bougourd (1.3 Force-Suzuki HC) 28.66s; 10 Brehaut 28.68s; 11 Uren 29.03s; 12 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 29.72s.
British Championship positions after round 22: 1 Menzies 205pts; 2 Summers 197; 3 Moran 188; 4 Willis 138; 5 Matt Ryder 123; 6 Uren 96; 7 Spedding 83; 8 Warburton 36; 9 Haimes 35; 10 Will Hall 26; etc.
Alex Summers hit record pace on the climb out of St Peter Port (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Richard Spedding again hit top form for his best combined result of the season (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Nick Saunders mixed it with the established front runners on his local hill (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Another local driver, Tim Tulie, challenged hard each time in his 1-litre Empire-Suzuki (Andrew Le Poidevin)
MENZIES' BOULEY DOUBLE
Event 10 at Bouley Bay on 13/07/2022
With a double run-off win on the British Championship’s first visit to ‘Les Charrieres du Boulay’ since before the pandemic, Wallace Menzies strengthened his grip on the series. Over 20 contenders made the crossing from the mainland to find the weather warm and dry, although track conditions on the tortuous Jersey road course that winds up from the picturesque but claustrophobic Bouley Bay paddock left many drivers struggling for grip. In a year that has so far seen a host of new records, on a run where ‘minimising mistakes’ was the key even Menzies fell short of Trevor Willis’s 2015 record by 0.37sec on the hairpin-strewn course whose average speed, at just over 56mph, is the slowest of the Championship’s eleven hills.
Menzies’ opening run-off shot was a mere hundredth clear of Scott Moran’s, with his Championship rival Alex Summers a further four hundredths adrift, but in the second run-off, as Menzies powerslid the Gould-XD through the top hairpin on the way to his second win of the day, Summers found his best form to grab second place ahead of Trevor Willis, although his series deficit to Menzies had increased to five points. Moran couldn’t match his earlier run-off pace and was denied even fourth place by the flying Richard Spedding, the fiercely determined Yorkshireman mixing it with the established front runners all day. Fourth and fifth places in his diminutive GWR Raptor-Suzuki represented his best combined result of the season so far.
Chasing home Spedding for sixth place in the opening run-off was Matt Ryder on his first visit to the Channel Islands. His GR59-Judd proved quite a handful on the twisty course but he managed to hold off Paul Haimes’ turbocharged, bike powered version by three hundredths. In the run-off each time, Guernsey hillclimb ace Nick Saunders pursued them both at close quarters for eighth place in his self-developed Reynick-Suzuki, going one better in the closing run-off to finish behind the sixth place Ryder, after Haimes had failed to qualify. A mistake at the tight Radio Hairpin eliminated Dave Uren’s Gould-NME V8 from the opening shoot-out, but to his relief he got into the second shootout, albeit finishing a disappointing eighth, pipped by Saunders by over half a second. Uren’s co-driver Nicola Menzies put up another fine showing, chasing home David Warburton’s GR59 and finishing just in the points each time. A delighted Nicola thus became the first lady driver to qualify and score BHC points at Bouley Bay since Agnes Mickel in 1970.
Although a consistent qualifier in recent months, Lee Griffiths failed to score with his OMS-Suzuki and was joined by firstly Jerseyman Glyn Moignard, then by Guernseyman Andy Bougourd who did well to qualify his Force PT but unfortunately recorded a failed run.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Bouley Bay
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 36.85s
Championship run-off, round 19: 1 Wallace Menzies 37.39s; 2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 37.40s; 3 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 37.44s; 4 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 37.57s; 5 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 38.05s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 38.86s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 38.89s; 8 Nick Saunders (1.6 Reynick-Suzuki) 39.09s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 40.02s; 10 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 40.38s; 11 Glyn Moignard (1.6 OMS-Suzuki 2000M) 41.35s; 12 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 41.56s.
Championship run-off, round 20: 1 Wallace Menzies 36.85s; 2 Summers 37.02s; 3 Willis 37.41s; 4 Spedding 37.56s; 5 Moran 37.60s; 6 Ryder 38.39s; 7 Saunders 38.57s; 8 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 39.02s; 9 Warburton 39.91s; 10 Nicola Menzies 40.04s; 11 Griffiths 41.07s; Andy Bougourd (1.6 Force-Suzuki PT) DNF.
British Championship positions after round 20: 1 Menzies 184pts; 2 Summers 179; 3 Moran 170; 4 Willis 127; 5 Ryder 123; 6 Uren 93; 7 Spedding 68; 8 Haimes 35; 9 Warburton 31; 10 Will Hall 26; etc.
Wallace Menzies turns the Gould-XD into Radio Hairpin (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Scott Moran closed to within a hundredth of Menzies in the opening shoot-out (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Hill record holder Trevor Willis chased home the two leaders in roound 20 (Andrew Le Poidevin)
Richard Spedding harried the front runners in his Raptor-Suzuki (Andrew Le Poidevin)
RYDER'S RECORD HAREWOOD
Event 9 at Harewood on 03/07/2022
As Carlos Sainz Jr was taking his first ever Grand Prix victory after qualifying fastest at Silverstone, a similar drama was being played out 120 miles to the north. On the final run of the day, having qualified top for the closing shoot-out at Harewood, Matt Ryder fulfilled the promise he has shown all season with his first ever British run-off win, setting a new hill record in the process aboard the ex.works Gould-Judd.
The event matched Harewood’s May BHC meeting for competitive action as Wallace Menzies had won the opening run-off, also with a new hill record. He lowered his own May target by a tenth while Ryder had run an unspectacular fourth, slower that his second place qualifier. But on that memorable final run, after a mediocre launch the 25-year old made up time hand over fist with a run that would carve another 0.36sec off Menzies’ latest record, leaving the defending champion to finish in second place.
After Championship leader Alex Summers had withdrawn from the opening run-off with fuel pump problems en route to the startline, missing out on a scoring round for the first time this season, he had tied on overall scores with Menzies at the halfway point in the meeting. But by the end, Menzies was back in the Championship lead for the first time since Gurston Down in May. With the car repaired, Summers failed to get back on terms in the second run-off. Posting his worst score of the year, he was edged out of third place by seven hundredths at the hands of a flying Trevor Willis. Revelling in Harewood’s tortuous layout, the OMS-RPE driver topped all the qualifying times – including Ryder’s – on the way to his best combined result of the season, with two podium finishes.
In the second battle for points, Scott Moran for once failed to stay with the leaders. Having chased Menzies home in the opening shoot-out, albeit over half a second adrift of the Scot’s record pace, an uncharacteristic tailslide coming out of Country Corner inevitably cost him dearly in the face of such close competition and he had to settle for fifth place.
Another driver to score his best combined result of the year so far was Harewood ace Richard Spedding, two 48sec runs in the bike-powered Raptor shadowing the ‘big guns’ each time as he held off first Dave Uren’s Gould-NME and then Johnathen Varley, who was enjoying a record-breaking weekend in his Yamaha V8 engined Predator. Varley demoted Uren to eighth place in the closing shoot-out, having set new 2-litre class standards at both today’s event and Saturday’s Harewood Championship counter, which had been contested by a large proportion of the BHC contingent.
Lee Griffiths continued to rack up points in his ‘stretched’ Hayabusa powered OMS 28, although eased down to the final scoring place in the closing run-off by Stuart Sugden, whose co-driver Les Mutch also made the cut in their Raptor-Suzuki. A fine weekend for Nicola Menzies saw the defending champion’s wife on top form in the Gould-NME shared with Uren. Having broken her own Ladies’ record the previous day, she qualified the car for the opening run-off with another new record over a second and a quarter inside the time she set in May. Unable to match that in the run-off she was demoted to last place by Graham Wynn, but still scored a point as two of the qualifiers, Summers and Paul Haimes, with a broken differential in his turbocharged Gould-Suzuki, had pulled out.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Harewood
FTD: Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 46.39s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 17: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 46.75s; 2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 47.35s; 3 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 47.93s; 4 Ryder 48.18s; 5 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 48.80s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 49.09s; 7 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 50.36s; 8 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 51.47s; 9 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 51.52s; 10 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 52.15s; Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) DNS; Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) DNS.
Championship run-off, round 18: 1 Ryder 46.39s; 2 Wallace Menzies 47.27s; 3 Willis 47.32s; 4 Summers 47.39s; 5 Moran 48.21s; 6 Spedding 48.75s; 7 Uren 49.23s; 8 Varley 49.66s; 9 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor 1-Suzuki) 50.27s; 10 Griffiths 50.59s; 11 Nicola Menzies 52.38s; 12 Les Mutch (1.6 GWR Raptor 1-Suzuki) 53.03s.
British Championship positions after round 18: 1 Menzies 164pts; 2 Summers 162; 3 Moran 155; 4 Ryder 113; 5 Willis 112; 6 Uren 90; 7 Spedding 55; 8 Haimes 31; 9 Warburton 27; 10 Will Hall 26; etc.
Matt Ryder took his first BHC run-off win with a new hill record (Steve Wilkinson)
Trevor Willis enjoyed his best weekend of the year so far (Steve Wilkinson)
Local hero Richard Spedding chased the leaders hard (Steve Wilkinson)
Johnathen Varley had a record-breaking weekend in the Predator (Steve Wilkinson)
SUMMERS STORMS AHEAD
Event 8 at Doune on 19/06/2022
For the second day of the Doune weekend the wind had dropped, the sun came out and with expectations high for another record-breaking day, Alex Summers duly obliged. On the penultimate run of the day he established yet another outright hill standard at 34.21, edging Scott Moran off the top run-off spot for the second time that day. Last to run, Wallace Menzies could not reply and the defending champion had to settle for a second successive third place.
For the opening run-off, Lee Griffiths had finally persuaded his OMS-Suzuki to run properly and made the cut. But he finished out of the points, joined by David Warburton who, after a great Saturday, was set to endure a bad day when the engine hesitated on the lower reaches.
After qualifying well down, Matthew Ryder and Stuart Sugden bounced back to finish sixth and seventh respectively. Johnathen Varley had set another class record in the Predator, but even a seven tenths improvement was not enough to lift him above tenth place.
Richard Spedding and Paul Haimes slipped down the order but in contrast, Dave Uren found a chunk of time overnight and brought the Gould-NME home fifth, while Trevor Willis finally got the OMS into the 35 second bracket for fourth place. Wallace Menzies, on the other hand, needed a 34sec run to take on the on-form Alex Summers. He just failed to do so and Scott Moran was left to throw down the gauntlet by dipping under the old record. But finally came Alex, and in sure enough it was another new record. A tenth shaved off the one set the previous day and 11 more points for the driver of the all-conquering Firestorm.
In contrast to the previous day, it was not yet 4.00pm when Lee Griffiths led off the runners for the second time. There would only be 11 starters as a trail of fluid from Dave Warburton’s car told a tale of overheating and his weekend, which had started off so well, finished in a pool of water. There were nearly just ten after Stuart Sugden broke a chain warming his tyres, but with a new one rapidly fitted, Stuart took his run, lowered his personal best and finished seventh!
Spedding progressed to sixth place, his best of the weekend and then Varley, who had reduced his class record by a further second, tagged the inside wall at Garden Gate and departed the scene with a deranged corner before Ryder ran wide at East Brae and dropped to ninth.
Willis had qualified sixth, but found enough to get ahead of Spedding while Haimes went the other way and a superb fifth place qualifier translated into eighth at the end. Uren finished with a weekend best fourth on a good day for the team, in which his driving partner Nicola Menzies had set yet another Ladies’ record in their Gould-NME, taking a tenth of a second off Olivia Cooper’s old mark. Now we were back to the ‘big three’ and first to go, Moran was just outside the old record. Summers made a storming start and his form continued progressively until the clocks stopped on yet another hill record. But after qualifying top, a relatively slow run for Menzies left him over a second behind Summers and he dropped to third.
With the season now just past the halfway mark, a new championship pattern is evolving after Doune. Alex Summers has now increased his initial two point Championship lead over Wallace Menzies to double figures, while Scott Moran is waiting in the wings a further four points adrift.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Doune
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 34.21s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 15: 1 Summers 34.28s; 2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 34.61s; 3 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.01s; 4 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 35.82s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 35.97s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 36.85s; 7 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor-Suzuki) 36.87s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 37.03s; 9 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.13s; 10 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 37.29s; 11 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.32s; 12 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 38.49s.
Championship run-off, round 16: 1 Summers 34.21s; 2 Moran 34.82s; 3 Menzies 35.29s; 4 Uren 35.78s; 5 Willis 35.94s; 6 Spedding 36.69s; 7 Sugden 36.83s; 8 Haimes 37.05s; 9 Ryder 38.36s; 10 Griffiths 38.45s; Varley DNF; Warburton DNS.
British Championship positions after round 16: 1 Summers 155pts; 2 Menzies 144; 3 Moran 140; 4 Willis 96; 5 Ryder 95; 6 Uren 81; 7 Spedding 44; 8 Haimes 31; 9 Warburton 27; 10 Will Hall 26; etc.
Fist raised, Alex Summers crosses the line after another record run (David Baxter)
Wallace Menzies had no answer to the onslaught by Summers and Moran (David Baxter)
Trevor Willis found his form and moved up to a Championship fourth place (David Baxter)
Class record breaker Johnathen Varley finally got in the points at Doune (David Baxter)
Event 7 at Doune on 18/06/2022
The British Hillclimb Tour arrived at a blustery Doune with a distinct chill in the air compared to the heat experienced further South, but the action soon turned red-hot. Inevitably, the hill record came under fire and as at Gurston and Shelsley, it was Alex Summers and the DJ Firestorm that set the pace.
With four rounds of the Championship run over the two days, early issues could easily cost points so qualifying for Saturday’s opening run-off was relatively conservative compared with what was to follow, with the usual suspects at the top of the pile, joined by local hotshoe Stuart Sugden who qualified fifth in his Raptor.
Ultimately Stuart finished seventh as Paul Haimes and David Warburton came through from the back to finish in superb fourth and fifth places, repairs on David’s car after its Shelsley damage having only been finished on the Thursday. Their rise up the order was helped by Trevor Willis, who ran wide at the top of East Brae and had to settle for a single point while Richard Spedding’s driveshaft issue at the top of the hill left him out of the points alongside Leslie Mutch, in the car shared by Sugden.
Johnathen Varley broke his class record in qualifying but failed to repeat the time, but with ninth place was pleased to have broken a run of four zero point finishes, while Dave Uren’s slow start to the weekend improved to eighth place. Adapting to the size of his Gould-Judd on the hill’s confined lower reaches, Matthew Ryder qualified and finished sixth.
Among the ‘big three’, who dominated proceedings all weekend, Scott Moran qualified and finished third, finding another half second to set a challenging target for Wallace Menzies. The defending champion took it on successfully, just missing the 34sec bracket. But after shaving a couple of hundredths off his own class record in qualifying, Alex Summers was on a charge and set a new outright record of 34.38 in taking his sixth win of the season.
Following a number of barrier damaging incidents the meeting ran late and it was nearly 7.00pm before the second run-off got under way – but with no dual driven cars it was over in just 14 minutes! Simon Mackay in the latest Raptor had qualified for his first ever run-off, displacing Les Mutch, and was delighted with his twelfth place finish.
Qualifying times were slower than before in the cool wind and this, plus the lateness of the hour, was reflected in a relatively uneventful run-off with no new record! As well as Mackay it was Stuart Sugden who failed to score any points, the two Raptors joined in the lower order by their sister car, Varley’s Predator, and a slow starting Haimes who finished ninth. Ryder had qualified fifth but slipped to eighth while Spedding, his drive-train issues sorted, came through to seventh, although overtaken in the run-off by another great run from Warburton who, after his no-score at Shelsley, was delighted to move up the Championship table.
Uren found another three places and Willis kept it on track this time to make it to fourth place but it was business as usual among the top three, although in a different order. The only driver to get below 36secs in qualifying and having seen both Summers and Menzies running a second off the pace compared to the first run-off, Moran seized the opportunity for his third win of the year ahead of the new hill record breaker.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Doune
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 34.38s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 13: 1 Summers 34.38s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.00s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 35.31s; 4 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.29s; 5 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.71s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 37.99s; 7 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor-Suzuki) 38.28s; 8 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 38.31s; 9 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 38.37s; 10 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 38.65s; 11 Les Mutch (1.6 GWR Raptor 1-Suzuki) 39.55s; 12 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 40.48s.
Championship run-off, round 14: 1 Moran 35.03s; 2 Summers 35.38s; 3 Menzies 36.10s; 4 Willis 36.54s; 5 Uren 37.46s; 6 Warburton 37.63s; 7 Spedding 37.69s; 8 Ryder 37.84s; 9 Haimes 38.09s; 10 Varley 38.38s; 11 Sugden 38.39s; 12 Simon Mackay (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 40.04s.
British Championship positions after round 14: 1 Summers 133pts; 2 Menzies 128; 3 Moran 121; 4 Ryder 88; 5 Willis 83; 6 Uren 68; 7 Spedding 36; 8 Warburton 27; 9= Will Hall and Haimes 26; etc.
Alex Summers hit record form from the start of the weekend (David Baxter)
Scott Moran added a third win to his 2022 tally (David Baxter)
Paul Haimes took a season-best fourth place in the opening run-off (David Baxter)
Simon Mackay and his new Raptor made a debut run-off appearance (David Baxter)
SUMMERS ON TOP AT SHELSLEY
Event 6 at Shelsley Walsh on 05/06/2022
The recent spate of record-breaking in British hillclimbing ended at Shelsley Walsh when overnight rain left the track conditions less than perfect. Further periods of light drizzle left drivers having to tread warily, though slicks remained the tyre of choice for most. In the opening run-off, Dave Uren took his second Shelsley win in the GR55B, four years after his first one, but it was Alex Summers that won the second shoot-out with FTD, maintaining his two point Championship lead over Wallace Menzies, who finished second each time.
The first set of class runs eliminated two potential qualifiers from the opening run-off. After a mistake at the Esses, Adam Greenen went straight on but stopped his Empire Evo in time to avoid damage to all but the nose cone, which was repaired for the later runs. Allan Warburton was not so lucky, more extensive front end damage after hitting the barrier at Kennel eliminating the Gould for both Allan and son Dave.
Graham Wynn was first to test the conditions during the opening run-off with a steady run for twelfth place. The smaller engine runners had had the worst of the conditions earlier but despite finding improvements of well over a second, Johnathen Varley finished out of the points with the Predator behind Lee Griffiths’ OMS, while Richard Spedding had to be content with eighth in the Raptor ahead of Jack Cottrill’s DJ Dallara-XD. Paul Haimes, however, was pleased to put a miserable weekend at Gurston behind him with a good run to seventh place.
The top six were all into the 25 second bracket. Split by just five hundredths in qualifying, Matt Ryder and Trevor Willis both found another second with Trevor edging Matt out for fifth place by seven hundredths. Next up, Menzies set a pace which even Scott Moran could not match, before Uren found seven hundredths more to take the lead. Last to run, a slight mistake by Summers would prove costly. As the only driver not to improve on his qualifying time, he handed the win to Uren.
Unfortunately that would be the last bit of good news for Dave, for he failed to qualify for the second run-off after hitting the barrier at Kennel. When he first came to the line, his dashboard died. While a new battery was fitted, the following four cars took their runs amid a slight drizzle and with the track a bit damper than he expected, understeer took charge at the left-hander shortly after the start. The conditions would leave Menzies and Summers a little down the qualifying order, to the benefit of earlier runners Haimes and Ryder.
2-litre class winner Eynon Price gambled on front treaded tyres for the second run-off. It didn’t pay off and he slipped to twelfth behind classmates Varley and Griffiths. Cottrill added another ninth place to his collection while Wynn had a better run for eighth place and Richard Spedding concluded a good weekend with seventh. The clock failed to start for Willis’s run, but after a return to the paddock, followed by a quick re-fuel, he stormed into the lead on his re-run with a time almost a second and a half inside his qualifier. Another solid performance by Haimes netted a top six place and his best result of the year so far, but even before that, Menzies had recorded the first 24sec run of the day.
Determined to improve on his earlier third place, Summers took the lead from Menzies with a maximum effort. It would be the best run of the day as neither Ryder, despite clocking a day’s best 161mph over the finish, nor Moran could match the two leaders’ times although they tied for third place. So the gap at the head of the pack remains at two points, although Summers now has five wins to the defending champion’s four.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Shelsley Walsh
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 24.23s
Championship run-off, round 11: 1 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 25.22s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 25.29s; 3 Summers 25.37s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 25.54s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 25.58s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 25.65s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 26.73s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 26.85s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 27.37s; 10 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 27.64s; 11 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 27.77s; 12 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 28.01s.
Championship run-off, round 12: 1 Summers 24.23s; 2 Menzies 24.30s; 3= Ryder and Moran 24.60s; 5 Willis 25.04s; 6 Haimes 26.06s; 7 Spedding 26.21s; 8 Wynn 26.80s; 9 Cottrill 26.95s; 10 Griffiths 27.26s; 11 Varley 27.37s; 12 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 27.87s.
British Championship positions after round 12: 1 Summers 113pts; 2 Menzies 111; 3 Moran 103; 4 Ryder 80; 5 Willis 75; 6 Uren 59; 7 Spedding 32; 8 Will Hall 26; 9 Haimes 17; 10 David Warburton 16; etc.
Alex Summers set the outright pace to maintain his 2-point Championship lead (John Hallett)
Dave Uren took the first run-off win but didn't make it to the second (John Hallett)
Paul Haimes took a season-best sixth place in the second run-off (John Hallett)
Jack Cottrill on the startline before an expectant crowd (John Hallett)
SUMMERS' DAY 2
Event 5 at Gurston Down on 29/05/2022
The second day of Gurston’s British Championship double-header brought slightly duller, chillier weather but still the question everyone asked was: with the record now standing at 25.05s, would we see Gurston’s first ever 24sec run? And if we did, with Alex Summers and Wallace Menzies tied on points at the top of the table and both on record form the previous day, which of them would do it? Or could six-time champion Scott Moran, well in touch with the Championship leaders and himself a former Gurston record-holder, turn the tables on the pair of them?
In the event it would be Summers’ day once again when, after qualifying top for the opening shoot-out, he edged out Menzies and Moran to lower the hill record he’d set only the previous day by just five hundredths of a second, leaving it at a round 25.00s. This despite a last-minute panic after qualifying with a blown exhaust after a lambda sensor boss had broken away. Quick work with a couple of Jubilee clips by DJ’s Andy Smith cured the problem and Summers was back on record pace. But the magic 24sec run would remain elusive. After a second run-off at only slightly reduced pace, it was Moran who grabbed his second win of the year by just seven hundredths from Summers, who left Gurston as the new Championship leader from third place finisher Menzies.
With the ‘big three’ now pulling away from the opposition, the battle for fourth place on the table, now some 20-odd points down the line, still lies between Matt Ryder and Trevor Willis, with Ryder having the edge following a fourth place finish in the opening run-off. Willis could only finish sixth, and in the second run-off seventh, again two places behind his rival. It was his worst finish of the year, although he still held a strong fifth place on the series table. After missing out on a score following his failed run the previous day, Dave Uren brought the much campaigned Gould-NME back into contention to split the duo early on, but late in the afternoon he closed in on the three leaders to head Ryder and a much happier Will Hall. After finishing three places behind him in the opening run-off, Will had outqualified his young co-driver for the first time in their Gould-Judd and closed to within a quarter of a second of him in the run-off itself.
Jack Cottrill found more pace than on the previous day in the DJ Dallara and closed in on Hall in the first run-off but Graham Wynn, who had missed the cut early on, edged ahead of him later to grab eighth place by a tenth of a second. Andy Greenen closed in on Cottrill in the first run-off and with both brothers making the cut for the second bout, trailed him by the same margin for tenth, easing Adam out of the points. As he had on Saturday, Johnathan Varley got the Predator into a run-off but without joining the scorers.
Following her fine performances in the Gould-NME at Shelsley last year and at Harewood just three weeks ago, hopes were high that Nicola Menzies could break Sue Young’s Gurston ladies’ record set way back in 2007. It was not to be, but she did close to within a quarter of a second of it and made the run-off cut each time.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.00s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 9: 1 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.00s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 25.32s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 25.87s; 4 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 26.15s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 26.30s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 26.60s; 7 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 27.64s; 8 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 27.80s; 9 Andrew Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 28.01s; 10 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 28.44s; 11 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 28.47s; 12 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 29.16s.
Championship run-off, round 10: 1 Moran 25.47s; 2 Summers 25.54s; 3 Wallace Menzies 25.92s; 4 Uren 26.31s; 5 Ryder 26.87s; 6 Hall 27.09s; 7 Willis 27.14s; 8 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 27.67s; 9 Cottrill 27.78s; 10 Andrew Greenen 28.04s; 11 Adam Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 28.46s; 12 Nicola Menzies 29.12s.
British Championship positions after round 10: 1 Summers 95pts; 2 Menzies 93; 3 Moran 88; 4 Ryder 67; 5 Willis 63; 6 Uren 49; 7 Hall 26; 8 Spedding 25; 9 Warburton 16; 10 Wynn 11; etc.
Alex Summers makes his victory speech after his record breaking FTD (Steve Lister)
Scott Moran took his second run-off win of the year (Steve Lister)
Will Hall brought the GR59-Judd home sixth in the second run-off (Ian Beard)
The Greenen brothers - this is Andy - both made the second run-off in their Empire Evo3 (Steve Lister)
SUMMERS' DAY 1
Event 4 at Gurston Down on 28/05/2022
Close fought action at the sharp end of the British Hillclimb Championship continued at Gurston where it had left off at Harewood as this year’s ‘big three’ battled it out at record pace over the ultra-fast Wiltshire downland track. On the opening day of this championship double-header weekend, Wallace Menzies’ year-old record came under fire first by the holder, then by his current championship rival. Alex Summers’ DJ Firestorm may have lacked the outright speed of his adversary’s Gould, but in the closing run-off he carved three tenths of a second off the championship leader’s new hill record, set moments earlier, to leave the pair level on points at the end of the day’s competition.
Summers had already laid down a marker in the first run-off, taking the win with a run that equalled the 2021 record. Menzies just failed to match it, Scott Moran chased hard and with all three covered by just fifteen hundredths, the remaining runners were left a second adrift. The pressure cranked up in the second shoot-out with the fastest cars approaching 150mph in the downhill approach to the fast left-hander at Hollow – plus another 10mph over the finish. As penultimate runner in the closing shoot-out Menzies finally hit record pace, shaving two hundredths off his old hill standard. Then on the day’s final run Summers, despite running considerably slower trap speeds, found that further three tenths to leave the record at 25.05s.
Once again, Scott Moran was well in touch with the two leaders and a second clear of the field led by Trevor Willis and Matt Ryder. Despite his perennial disadvantage in the horsepower stakes over Gurston’s power-sapping Burke’s Rise before the finish, Willis was pleased with his performance – no doubt aided by his beautifully crafted ‘F1-style’ aluminium steering wheel and paddle shift assembly which he’d built as a winter project. He kept Ryder’s Gould-Judd at bay on each run-off and the pair finished the day on equal points for fourth place on the series table. Sixth on the table and with sixth place in the opening run-off, Dave Uren would maintain his position in the standings despite stalling the Gould-NME at the start during the closing shoot-out and incurring a fail, all four wheels having crossed the line. Having finished the opening run-off out of the points in the GR59 shared with Ryder, together with Jack Cottrill’s DJ Dallara-XD, Will Hall stepped in to bag sixth place at the end, equalling his best finish in the car this year.
Graham Wynn found that his newly fitted pacemaker paid dividends with his times. Bringing home his GR59 for a brace of seventh place finishes he made his mark on the Championship scoreboard for the first time this year. In the opening run-off he headed Richard Spedding who, with the 1600cc racing division now proving to be one of the most competitive classes on the hills this year, had made the switch from the forced induction class for 2022 and led the class in his Raptor after the first runs. Lee Griffiths’ ‘stretched’ OMS-Suzuki split the Yorkshireman from his classmate David Warburton, who brought his GR59-Suzuki home for the final point.
Griffiths failed to qualify for the second battle for points and it was Adam Greenen who chased Wynn home for eighth place. His new-for-2022 Empire Evo3 had broken a driveshaft on his opening class run, but after a quick fix the car was out in good time for Adam to grab the 1600cc class win from Warburton with a run at qualifying pace. Third in this hotly contested class, Adam’s brother Andy also made the cut and brought the car home ahead of 2-litre class winner Johnathen Varley’s Predator for the final point behind Warburton as both rapid siblings made the 2022 scoreboard for the first time.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.05s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 7: 1 Summers 25.34s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 25.40s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 25.49s; 4 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 26.45s; 5 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 26.56s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 26.98s; 7 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 27.74s; 8 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 28.02s; 9 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 28.40s; 10 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.44s; 11 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 28.63s; 12 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 28.77s.
Championship run-off, round 8: 1 Summers 25.05s; 2 Menzies 25.32s; 3 Moran 25.40s; 4 Willis 26.34s; 5 Ryder 26.38s; 6 Hall 27.33s; 7 Wynn 27.54s; 8 Adam Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 27.65s; 9 Warburton 28.13s; 10 Andrew Greenen (1.6 Empire Evo 3-Suzuki) 28.35s; 11 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 28.37s; Uren DNF.
British Championship positions after round 8: 1= Menzies and Summers 75pts; 3 Moran 70; 4= Ryder and Willis 54; 6 Uren 36; 7 Spedding 24; 8 Hall 17; 9 Warburton 16; 10= Paul Haimes and Wynn 8; etc.
Alex Summers crests Deer's Leap on the way to a new hill record (Ian Beard)
Wallace Menzies' new record stood for less than a minute! (Steve Lister)
Scott Moran chased hard for third place in both run-offs (Ian Beard)
Trevopr Willis kept in touch with the top three each time (Steve Lister)
RECORD ROUT AT HAREWOOD
Event 3 at Harewood on 08/05/2022
Harewood’s hill record took a battering as never before as defending champion Wallace Menzies fought his way into the British Championship lead for the first time this season. His fourth successive run-off win and a new hill record ended what had been a spectacular day of record breaking by British hillclimbing’s top contenders. The signs were there during practice, when both Menzies and Scott Moran climbed inside the Scotsman’s 2019 hill standard. But when both shaded the mark officially on successive runs during qualifying for the opening run-off, the battle lines were drawn.
But few could have anticipated the intensity of the competition once British points were at stake. Once Alex Summers and Matt Ryder had joined the fray, all four left the old record for dead in successive run-offs, scoring a total of eight bonus points between them. In the opening shoot-out, relative newcomer Ryder in the ex.works Gould GR59 was the first to go below Menzies’ latest mark. Next to run, Summers couldn’t quite match that. But after Moran had made sure that Ryder ‘s tenure of the record was short-lived, Menzies lowered it yet again by a further five hundredths to win the run-off. The target was now 47.00 sec. Could we see a 46? Speculation was rife and after being covered by just three hundredths in qualifying, Moran, Summers and Ryder came close. But few were surprised when on the last run of the day, the flying Scot produced another masterly display in his red GR59, a 46.86s run bringing to an end perhaps the biggest record bonanza in Harewood’s 60-year history.
Shrugging off a suspension and nose-cone damaging practice incident, Trevor Willis flew through Harewood’s twistier sections, but the OMS-RPE was inevitably outgunned on the straights and he had to watch the four leaders disappear into the middle distance each time. Will Hall, sharing the GR59 with Ryder, closed in on him in the opening run-off but his so far difficult season with the GR59-Judd continued when he failed to qualify for run-off two, the car getting out of shape at the left-hand kink before Orchard and skating harmlessly into the gravel trap. After running eighth in the opening shoot-out, Dave Uren was the one to chase Willis home later after a see-saw battle with local ace Richard Spedding, the Yorkshireman’s Raptor blisteringly fast on Harewood’s twisty sections, but it was overall a great day for the GR55 team, Uren’s co-driver Nicola Menzies setting a new Harewood Ladies’ record during the first class runs before lowering it again by almost a second later on. Harewood is unique in being the only hillclimb in the BHC at which both the outright and the ladies’ records are held by a husband and wife.
‘Team Warby’ was at full strength in the opening run-off and although dad Allan finished out of the points, son David got close to Uren’s V8 and held off Jack Cottrill’s DJ/Dallara-Cosworth for eighth place later on. Both with ‘stretched’ Hayabusa power in the 2-litre racing class, Eynon Price notched up his first point of the year in the opening run-off ahead of classmate Lee Griffiths, who followed up his points haul at Craigantlet the previous weekend with another at Harewood, having qualified each time with successive class records in his OMS 28. Also qualifying at Craigantlet was 1600cc class runner Darren Gumbley, who made the second cut at Harewood too, although edged out of the points by Griffiths.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Harewood
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 46.86s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 5: 1 Menzies 47.00s; 2 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 47.05s; 3 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 47.39s; 4 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 47.62s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 48.63s; 6 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 48.94s; 7 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 49.01s; 8 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 49.20s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 49.48s; 10 Eynon Price (1.7 Force-Suzuki TA) 51.12s; 11 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 51.25s; 12 Allan Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 51.84s.
Championship run-off, round 6: 1 Menzies 46.86s; 2 Summers 47.15s; 3 Ryder 47.19s; 4 Moran 47.46s; 5 Willis 48.02s; 6 Uren 48.78s; 7 Spedding 48.98s; 8 David Warburton 50.48s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 50.63s; 10 Griffiths 50.71s; 11 Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 51.66s; 12 Price 51.87s.
British Championship positions after round 6: 1 Menzies 56pts; 2= Moran and Summers 54; 4 Ryder 42; 5 Willis 40; 6 Uren 31; 7 Spedding 21; 8 David Warburton 13; 9 Will Hall 12; 10 Paul Haimes 8; etc.
Wallace Menzies topped the record-breakers to gain control of the Championship (Steve Wilkinson)
In only his third BHC event with the Gould, Matt Ryder held (if briefly) a hill record (Steve Wilkinson)
Nicola Menzies reset the Harewood Ladies' record (Steve Wilkinson)
Lee Griffiths qualified twice with successive class records (Steve Wilkinson)
WALLACE 'RAINS' SUPREME
Event 2 at Craigantlet on 30/04/2022
Reigning British Hillclimb Champion Wallace Menzies has a fight on his hands this season. A week earlier, six time title holder Scott Moran and 2015 champion Alex Summers had taken a run-off win apiece at Prescott, and were full of confidence as they prepared to face the Ulster lanes above Belfast. But Wallace fought back, setting FTD and winning both run-offs with a stunning display of bravery and skill in rain that fell throughout the day.
In the first run-off the red Tillicoultry Gould GR59-M stopped the clock at 43.07s, half a second clear of the DJ Firestorm of Alex Summers. Scott Moran, at the wheel of Graham Wynn’s GRW59J, was a further three tenths adrift, but almost a second up on Dave Uren in the old Gould GR55B. Fifth fastest was Trevor Willis aboard his faithful OMS 28, a further seven tenths down and more than a second ahead of Matt Ryder, who was still coming to terms with Sean Gould’s GR59J, of which the Ryder family now own half. Co-driver Will Hall was less fortunate, failing to qualify when the car went into limp mode after sensing a drop in oil pressure.
Now free of the worry of keeping a supercharged bike engine in one piece week after week, Richard Spedding revelled in the wet conditions with his 1600 Suzuki powered GWR Raptor to hold off class rival David Warburton in his family GR59, and better the sometimes troublesome turbocharged GR59 Suzuki of Paul Haimes, to whom the mantle of blown 1300 warrior now falls. Sadly, his day ended shortly afterwards when the plenum chamber imploded. Lee Griffiths in the 1660cc OMS Suzuki completed the points scorers, with Wynn and Uren’s co-driver Nicola Menzies missing out.
In the second run-off Menzies upped his pace. In front of an understandably small yet enthusiastic crowd, the 700 bhp projectile scrabbled its way off a soaking uphill startline and scythed through the tight lower course bends, before sending rooster tails of spray high into the air as it blasted along Wharton Straight. A remarkable 42.20s run was just three seconds shy of the outright hill record. Moran led the chase seven tenths behind, with Summers a further half second slower. This time Willis got the better of Uren by five hundredths, with Ryder sixth once again. And in a repeat of his earlier experience, Will Hall had been absolutely on the pace before limp mode cut in once more and he again failed to qualify. Either the sensor or Will’s driving style need to change.
Spedding and Warburton finished seventh and eighth yet again, this time more than half a second apart, while Griffiths and Nicola Menzies also got into the points. Graham Wynn fell short by a mere hundredth, while Darren Gumbley’s Force non-started.
The ever enthusiastic Ulster Automobile Club, led by Wilson Carson, ran a slick event in miserable weather, even sacrificing a lunch break in the interests of keeping the meeting on schedule. Considering the weather there were surprisingly few incidents, perhaps as a result of the poor conditions at least remaining consistent.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Craigantlet
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 42.20s
Championship run-off, round 3: 1 Wallace Menzies 43.07s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 43.63s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 43.98s; 4 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 44.93s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 45.64s; 6 Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 46.93s; 7 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 47.35s; 8 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 47.74s; 9 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 48.01s; 10 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 48.80s; 11 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 49.22s; 12 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 49.45s.
Championship run-off, round 4: 1 Wallace Menzies 42.20s; 2 Moran 42.96s; 3 Summers 43.45s; 4 Willis 45.47s; 5 Uren 45.52s; 6 Ryder 46.24s; 7 Spedding 47.50s; 8 David Warburton 48.16s; 9 Griffiths 48.36s; 10 Nicola Menzies 48.69s; 11 Wynn 48.70s; Darren Gumbley (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) DNS.
British Championship positions after round 4: 1= Moran and Summers 36pts; 3 Menzies 34; 4 Willis 28; 5 Ryder 24; 6 Uren 23; 7 Spedding 13; 8= Haimes and Warburton 8; 10 Will Hall 10; etc.
Wallace Menzies dominated the Belfast byways (Leslie McMullan)
Alex Summers rejoined battle with Scott Moran ... (Leslie McMullan)
...and Moran again shared the series lead with Summers (Leslie McMullan)
Richard Spedding slides the Raptor out of Hadley (Leslie McMullan)
STORMING BRITISH HILLCLIMB OPENER
Event 1 at Prescott on 24/04/2022
In a memorable start to the British Hillclimb Championship’s 75th anniversary year, a mere tenth of a second covered the top five finishers in Prescott’s opening Top 12 shoot-out. Returning for another full season in Graham Wynn’s Gould-Judd GRW59, six times British champion Scott Moran showed he’d lost none of his old form, snatching the win from top qualifier Alex Summers by just three hundredths. Four hundredths behind Summers, Trevor Willis and newcomer to the ‘big car’ class Matt Ryder tied for third place, edging out defending champion Wallace Menzies by a further three hundredths in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Championship.
Late in the afternoon, after qualifying top for the second run-off, hill record-holder Menzies and his all-conquering GR59-Cosworth were set to follow another close duel between Moran and Summers. But with the battle between the three former champions providing the climax to the meeting, a tail-out moment at the exit of the Esses left Menzies trailing the group. Running first of the three, Moran set the day’s outright pace so far in his Gould-Judd. Then Summers, his previously carbon-black Firestorm-XD now sporting a striking paint scheme, found another two tenths with a typically inch-perfect run, seizing what would become both the run-off win and FTD once final runner Menzies had lost those vital fractions. So having exchanged the leading places in each round, Moran and Summers left Prescott tied in the lead of the Championship.
After his fine Championship debut aboard the ex.works Gould GR59 in tying with Willis for third place, Ryder nearly missed the second cut when his Judd V8 faltered leaving the line on his qualifying run. He managed to scrape in just hundredths clear of final qualifier Wynn, before bouncing back to trail Willis for fifth place and level with Menzies’ fourth spot on the series table. Another good run from Willis in the afternoon saw the three times champion’s long serving OMS-RPE hot on the tail of the top three.
Having seen even more service – not to mention success – than Willis’s OMS, Dave Uren’s Gould-NME V8, which first appeared 17 years ago in the hands of Martin Groves, was another car displaying a new paint scheme. Despite a big twitch on the exit of SemiCircle during the second run-off, Uren stayed well on course with two 36sec runs for two sixth place finishes. With eighth and then seventh places in the ex.works GR59, Will Hall was acclimatising himself to the new car which he shares this year with Ryder, having not had quite so much seat time as his co-driver and finding the car’s handling very different to the Force-AER with which he had persevered for so many years. With eighth and then seventh place finishes he ended the day seventh on the Championship table and a point clear of Paul Haimes’ bike-engined GR59 turbo, whose season had opened well with a fine qualifier for the second run-off, just behind the leading trio.
Currently sharing his GWR Raptor 2 with Steve Marr, Richard Spedding had for this year switched his recalcitrant supercharged Suzuki engine for a normally aspirated Hayabusa 1600 unit. He harried Hall each time, trailing him for ninth place in the opening shoot-out, but grabbing eighth place from Haimes in the afternoon run-off. David Warburton twice rounded off the points scorers with similar motive power in the back of his GR59-Suzuki. Ben Stephenson made the morning cut in his Empire Evo 2, but his supercharged Suzuki engine hesitated after leaving the line before picking up again, albeit for an inevitable zero points finish. Next up, Zach Zammit had an even worse start in his his 1600cc Empire Wraith, coming to a complete stop after crossing the startline. The former Maltese hillclimb champion fared better in the afternoon run-off although, together with Graham Wynn, finishing out of the points.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Prescott
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 35.43s
Championship run-off, round 1: 1 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 35.99s; 2 Summers 36.01s; 3= Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 36.05s; 3= Matthew Ryder (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 36.05s; 5 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 36.09s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 36.69s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 36.76s; 8 Will Hall (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 36.83s; 9 Richard Spedding (1.6 GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 37.10s; 10 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.42s; 11 Ben Stephenson (1.3s Empire-Suzuki Evo2) 43.32s; Zach Zammit (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 2: 1 Summers 35.43s; 2 Moran 35.63s; 3 Menzies 36.14s; 4 Willis 36.44s; 5 Ryder 36.76s; 6 Uren 36.81s; 7 Hall 36.82s; 8 Spedding 36.93s; 9 Haimes 37.06s; 10 Warburton 37.34s; 11 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 38.38s; 12 Zammit 38.63s.
British Championship positions after round 2: 1= Moran and Summers 19pts; 3 Willis 15; 4= Ryder and Menzies 14; 6 Uren 10; 7 Hall 7; 8 Haimes 6; 9 Spedding 5; 10 Warburton 2.
Alex Summers set the outright pace in a memorable encounter (John Hallett)
Scott Moran won the opening round before tying with Summers for the series lead (John Hallett)
Defending champion Wallace Menzies finished third in the closing shoot-out (John Hallett)
Matt Ryder enjoyed a fine Championship debut with the Gould-Judd (John Hallett)
INTO THE 41s!
Event 14 at Loton Park on 26/09/2021
The British hillclimb season ended in spectacular style in the Loton Park sunshine. On a day that saw no less than 15 runs inside the old hill record, Wallace Menzies signed off his Championship year with a scintillating climb that blitzed the 43.18s target set by Sean Gould in June by almost a second and a half. It was a superb display by the Scot that not only underlined the supremacy of both car and driver in 2021 but secured his third hill record of the year, bringing his current total on British Championship hills to five.
First to officially break the hill record was Alex Summers with a 42.79 in qualifying for the opening run-off, but having already run almost a second inside the record during practice on Saturday, Menzies went one better in reply with the Shropshire hill's first ever 41sec climb, following it up by winning the opening run-off with a 41.76 which would stand for the rest of the day as the outright hill record.
Throughout the day, Summers pushed the Firestorm-XD hard and remained the only other driver to break into the 41sec bracket, although in each of the two run-offs the top five drivers were all inside the old record. Scott Moran ran third each time while former record-holder Sean Gould couldn't quite get his GR59-Judd on the frantic pace required to win this weekend and swapped places for fourth, losing out to the ever determined Trevor Willis's hard driven OMS after surviving a lurid sideways moment at Loggerheads in the closing shoot-out. These five have dominated the Championship for most of the year and their overall series placings were decided before Loton. Having missed several rounds due to engine problems Dave Uren remained sixth on the table, reflected as he chased the 'famous five' home in each run-off.
In a duel between Dave Warburton and Paul Haimes, their GR59s exchanged seventh and eighth places in successive run-offs. Haimes pulled out all the stops to go well clear in the second shoot-out having qualified his turbocharged version by breaking Jos Goodyear's 6-year old class record. The icing on the cake for Haimes was a best ever seventh overall in the Championship as the highest placed non-V8. But losing out to his rival in the second shoot-out was significant for Warburton, as an extra point would have broken his tie with Will Hall and earned him a 'number eight' for 2022. As it was, they finished the year on equal points and Hall got the nod for eighth overall on a tie-break even though he didn't score at Loton. Having missed much of the season following the Gurston accident, Hall's repaired Force-AER was handling badly and although accepting the offer of a drive in Menzies' Gould-XD, he failed to qualify the car.
Various problems, including a chain breakage in practice, continued to afflict Richard Spedding's supercharged Raptor. He finished ninth each time and out of the final Championship top ten by a single point from the non-scoring Eynon Price, who failed to increase his score as he retired from each qualifying run with mechanical problems. Rounding off the scorers were Matthew Ryder and Graham Wynn respectively.
Our top hillclimbers had put on a superb display for the final meeting of the season to show that despite all the problems of the last couple of years, British hillclimbing is back with a vengeance!
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Loton Park
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 41.76s (Outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 27: 1 Menzies 41.76s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 42.55s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 42.67s; 4 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 42.72s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 42.83s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 43.61s; 7 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 44.93s; 8 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 44.95s; 9 Richard Spedding (1.3s GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 45.28s; 10 Matthew Ryder (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 45.75s; 11 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 46.01s; 12 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 47.34s.
Championship run-off, round 28: 1 Menzies 41.81s; 2 Summers 41.85s; 3 Moran 42.17s; 4 Willis 42.62s; 5 Gould 43.05s; 6 Uren 44.15s; 7 Haimes 44.16s; 8 Warburton 45.06s; 9 Spedding 45.23s; 10 Wynn 45.43s; 11 Ryder 45.65s; 12 Simon Moyse (1.3s Gould-Suzuki GR59) 46.46s.
Final British Championship positions: 1 Menzies 211pts; 2 Summers 197; 3 Gould 175; 4 Moran 159; 5 Willis 125; 6 Uren 98; 7 Haimes 71; 8 Will Hall 49; 9 Warburton 49; 10 Eynon Price 42; etc.
Wallace Menzies was on record-breaking form all weekend (John Hallett)
Alex Summers joined Menzies in the 41s (John Hallett)
Sean Gould's old record was blitzed by almost a second and a half (John Hallett)
Paul Haimes will run with a 'number seven' in 2022 (John Hallett)
Event 13 at Craigantlet on 11/09/2021
Everyone was pleased to be back at the Northern Irish road course of Craigantlet following an absence of more than two years, and none more so than Wallace Menzies. In a masterly display, the reigning British Champion secured a second consecutive title as he sped to the win in each of the day’s run-offs.
In the first, on a track still in recovery from a sudden shower, Wallace needed only a single point to secure the title. That he powered the Gould GR59M to within a tenth of the hill record with a 39.22s climb, half a second clear of rival Alex Summers' DJ Firestorm, was more than enough to do it. The sister Tillicoultry Quarries Gould GR55B of joint course record holder Dave Uren was a close third, a further three hundredths adrift. Sean Gould in the ‘works’ GR59 was the only other to dip into the thirty nines, with Scott Moran (the other joint hill record holder) seven tenths behind in Graham Wynn’s GR59. Trevor Willis was almost a second and a half down on Scott with his long serving OMS28 in sixth place.
Following a troublesome season, Richard Spedding did well to get the supercharged Hyabusa powered Raptor to within two hundredths of Willis, but at some cost to his state of mind due to high speed instability on the fast upper section of the hill. Recent returnee to the fray Will Hall, in a Force-AER that never looked anything other than a handful, David Warburton in the 1600cc Gould GR59 and Paul Haimes who, in his turbocharged GR59, now looks on course for a best-ever seventh place Championship finish, completed the points scorers with the OMS 28 of Lee Griffiths and Force TA of Darren Gumbley failing to make the cut.
During qualifying for the second run-off, Allan Warburton inconveniently eliminated the family GR59 from further proceedings by impacting with the bank coming out of Hall corner. This meant that, unable to take a second run, his son David had to settle for joint ninth place on the Championship table with the absent Eynon Price, leaving that particular duel to be resolved two weeks later at Loton Park.
Having by now put the 2021 championship title beyond the reach of all his rivals, Menzies turned his attention to the Craigantlet record in the second run-off, and perhaps only a cooling track saw him fall short by a mere five hundredths. As ever, Alex Summers went for it too, but it was Scott Moran who got closest to the Scot, just over three tenths shy, and four hundredths ahead of Alex. Dave Uren, revelling in the fresh engine in the back of the Gould, was a fine fourth, a remarkable hundredth quicker than Sean Gould in the marque’s latest iteration. Willis was again sixth, with Spedding, Haines and Hall filling the next three places, all covered by less than three quarters of a second. A hugely popular final point scorer was Nicola Menzies in the car shared with Uren, her 42.88s run setting a new Ladies record which was previously held for many years by Jenny Kennedy. Lee Griffiths unfortunately missed out on points again, as did Graham Wynn.
With just two BHC rounds remaining, at Loton Park in a fortnight’s time, a hugely exciting championship is drawing a to close. Already plans are being made for next year’s contest, both in terms of venues and racing cars, thus confirming the healthy state of the longest running motor sporting championship in the world.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Craigantlet
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 39.16s
Championship run-off, round 25: 1 Menzies 39.22s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 39.72s; 3 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 39.75s; 4 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 39.81s; 5 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 40.53s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 41.92s; 7 Richard Spedding (1.3s GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 41.94s; 8 Will Hall (2.0t Force-AER WH) 42.25s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 42.90s; 10 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 43.15s; 11 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 43.75s; 12 Darren Gumbley (1.0 Force-Kawasaki TA) 45.91s.
Championship run-off, round 26: 1 Menzies 39.16s; 2 Moran 39.49s; 3 Summers 39.53s; 4 Uren 39.97s; 5 Gould 39.98s; 6 Willis 40.26; 7 Spedding 41.34s; 8 Haimes 41.79s; 9 Hall 42.11s;
10 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 42.88s; 11 Griffiths 43.70s; 12 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 44.21s.
British Championship positions after round 26: 1 Menzies 207pts; 2 Summers 193; 3 Gould 172; 4 Moran 153; 5 Willis 113; 6 Uren 88; 7 Haimes 64; 8 Will Hall 49; 9= Warburton and Eynon Price 42; etc.
The 2021 champion returns! (Leslie McMullan)
Alex Summers' valiant championship chase ended after the opening run-off (Leslie McMullan)
Scott Moran chased Menzies hard in the first shoot-out (Leslie McMullan)
Dave Uren closed in on the two leaders in the afternoon (Leslie McMullan)
Event 12 at Prescott on 05/09/2021
With his hopes of a second British title rapidly fading, Alex Summers produced a determined opening run-off shot to try and stay in the hunt and closed to within nine hundredths of the hill record. Championship rival Wallace Menzies' reply fell just nine hundredths short, but in afternoon qualifying the Scot showed his hand with a run almost three tenths of a second inside Sean Gould's 2019 mark. It wasn't over yet. Immediately after penultimate runner Summers' all-out effort in the closing run-off had slipped inside the old mark by a hundredth, Menzies applied the coup de grâs. With a rocket start and the immense torque of his Cosworth XD punching the GR59 out of Prescott's tight corners on an inch-perfect line, Wallace eventually powered out of SemiCircle to stop the Prescott clocks on 34 seconds for the first time. Gould's 2-year old record had been blitzed by over threequarters of a second and with just four rounds to go, Menzies' second consecutive title looked to be all but won.
There was no way that championship third place man Sean Gould could defend his old record. Struggling on a set of Pirellis that were well past their best, the sport's leading constructor had to settle for a couple of mid-field placings. Edged down to sixth by the perennially hard-trying Trevor Willis in the first run-off, he was handed fifth place in the second shoot-out after Willis tried just that bit too hard to make up his power deficit and spun under braking on the entrance to Pardon hairpin. A needle match between Scott Moran and Dave Uren saw both drivers well into the 35s as the six-times champion edged a couple of third place finishes from the GR55B driver.
It was good to see Will Hall finally back in action with the extensively rebuilt Force-AER. Following a short test session, the car arrived for its first competition outing since late May but failed to qualify for the opening run-off. It was a different story in the afternoon as after a seventh place qualifier he brought the car home in sixth place and remained on course to salvage a top ten placing by the end of the year. Having also lost much of the season with a myriad of problems afflicting his supercharged Raptor-Suzuki, Richard Spedding lay just outside the overall top ten, but managed to find a couple of seventh places at Prescott as well as finding time to loan his car to Johnathen Varley, who had suffered last-minute oil pressure problems with his Predator.
After stuttering to a halt and failing to make the first cut in his Gould-Suzuki turbo, Paul Haimes made it into the second run-off and finished eighth, enough to maintain a fairly safe seventh overall on the BHC table. Rapidly coming to terms with his DJ Racecars developed Dallara Cosworth XD, Jack Cottrill followed up his Shelsley double-qualifier with an even better result at Prescott; two ninth places in a see-saw duel with David Warburton. With championship rival Eynon Price neither making the cut at Prescott nor, unlike Warburton, going to Craigantlet in a week's time, 'Warby Jr' could well be swapping his permanent number 10 for a number 9 next year.
Darren Gumbley squeezed out Simon Moyse for the final point in the opening run-off and Lee Griffiths rounded off the runners, while in the second run-off Charles Hall, after a fine debut hillclimbing season in Bill Chaplin's Empire Wraith, made his third BHC run-off appearance of the year before returning to the circuits at Donington Park in a week's time.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Prescott
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 34.65s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 23: 1 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 35.50s; 2 Menzies 35.54s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 35.84s; 4 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 35.88s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 36.17s; 6 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 36.36s; 7 Richard Spedding (1.3s GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 37.02s; 8 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.07s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 37.46s; 10 Darren Gumbley (1.0 Force-Kawasaki TA) 37.78s; 11 Simon Moyse (1.3s Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.86s; 12 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 38.16s.
Championship run-off, round 24: 1 Menzies 34.65s; 2 Summers 35.40s; 3 Moran 35.75s; 4 Uren 35.89s; 5 Gould 36.45s; 6 Will Hall (2.0t Force-AER WH) 36.66s; 7 Spedding 36.96s; 8 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.18s; 9 Cottrill 37.58s; 10 Warburton 37.60s; 11 Charles Hall (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 38.25s; Willis DNF.
British Championship positions after round 24: 1 Menzies 204pts; 2 Summers 190; 3 Gould 164; 4 Moran 149; 5 Willis 103; 6 Uren 73; 7 Haimes 60; 8 Will Hall 44; 9 Eynon Price 42; 10 Warburton 40; etc.
Wallace Menzies was on record-breaking form again at Prescott (John Hallett)
Alex Summers pushed hard, but couldn't match Menzies' imperious form (John Hallett)
Will Hall and the force-AER were back in action after a three-month absence (John Hallett)
John Cottrill and the Dallara-Cosworth are beginning to make their mark (John Hallett)
SHELSLEY RECORD BLITZED
Event 11 at Shelsley Walsh on 15/08/2021
The tension was palpable at Shelsley as the twelve qualifiers lined up for the first run-off of the day, practice and qualifying times having suggested that Martin Groves’ 13-year-old course record of 22.58s would at last be in serious jeopardy.
The large crowd were not disappointed. Championship leader Wallace Menzies was the first to set a new mark with an electrifying 22.55s ascent of the historic Teme Valley track in the Tillicoultry Quarries Gould GR59M. Then the ‘works’ GR59JB of Sean Gould came to the line and in a sublime demonstration of controlled aggression, Sean brought the crowd to its feet with a stunning reply in 22.37s. That Groves was there to witness the long-awaited demolition of his record with such an epic display of driving was entirely fitting. Last to run, top qualifier Alex Summers couldn't quite match Gould's time, but slipped inside that of Championship rival Menzies in typically determined style. In a car giving away significant power to the front running Goulds, with a 22.52 he became the third driver to climb Shelsley inside the old record.
Scott Moran was a close fourth in series sponsor Graham Wynn’s GRW59, just four hundredths quicker than Dave Uren in a rejuvenated GR55B, Groves' old Shelsley record-holding car, following further ministrations to the recently acquired replacement engine by Nicholson McLaren after its predecessor’s Harewood blow-up. Outgunned in such company, Trevor Willis gave his all in the OMS 28 to finish sixth, a second clear of Paul Haimes in a turbocharged 1300cc GR59 that, for a second meeting in succession, was behaving itself. Former Maltese hillclimb champion Zach Zammit was fastest of the 1600 cc runners with his Empire Wraith, followed by young Jack Cottrill in the Dallara-XD who claimed his first BHC points. Dave Warburton completed the scorers in the family 1600cc GR59, with Wynn and Simon Moyse in the blown 1300cc GR59, narrowly missing out.
As clouds gathered and the odd drop of rain caused umbrellas to be raised, the second run-off was never going to see the outright Shelsley record lowered further, but an early running Nicola Menzies still put in a stunning drive to take Sue Young’s 14-year old ladies' record by three hundredths. So, on a day when the long serving GR55B shared with Dave Uren lost one record to its name, it gained another.
Scott Moran then turned in the kind of performance that has brought him six British Championships, and in less than ideal conditions posted a stunning 22.68s time to put the shared GRW59 in top place, giving this new for 2021 driver/car combination a first victory - very much a 'Win Wynn' situation. Wallace Menzies pushed hard to unseat Moran, and was on schedule to do so, but a wobble at a dampening Bottom Ess dropped him to second with a six hundredths deficit. Dave Uren continued his fine form with a third place drive, narrowly ahead of Gould and Summers, with Willis once more hanging on grimly for sixth place. To his evident delight and even surprise, Haimes continued to enjoy reliability with his Gould, netting a another strong seventh ahead of final points scorers Wynn, Mrs Menzies and Cottrill, although losing his sixth place on the Championship table to the back-on-form Uren. David Warburton and Simon Moyse were the losers on this occasion.
This had been a splendid and significant meeting, held at the very epicentre of British hillclimbing, with sensational driving, fallen long-standing records and returning crowds. After a troubled period, the future finally looks promising.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Shelsley Walsh
FTD: Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 22.37s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 21: 1 Gould 22.37s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 22.52s; 3 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 22.55s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 22.64s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 22.68s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 23.48s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 24.43s; 8 Zach Zammit (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 24.60s; 9 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara Cosworth XD) 24.71s; 10 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 24.86s; 11 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 25.39s; 12 Simon Moyse (1.3s Gould-Suzuki GR59) 25.41s.
Championship run-off, round 22: 1 Moran 22.68s; 2 Menzies 22.74s; 3 Uren 22.98s; 4 Gould 23.02s; 5 Summers 23.24s; 6 Willis 23.52s; 7 Haimes 24.28s; 8 Wynn 24.48s; 9 Nicola Menzies (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 24.70s; 10 Cottrill 24.75s; 11 Warburton 24.99s; 12 Moyse 25.16s.
British Championship positions after round 22: 1 Menzies 200pts; 2 Summers 175; 3 Gould 153; 4 Moran 138; 5 Willis 97; 6 Uren 59; 7 Haimes 57; 8 Price 42; 9 Will Hall 39; 10 Warburton 36; etc.
Sean Gould had the final say as Shelsley's age-old record was eclipsed three times (John Hallett)
Scott Moran took the first win for Graham Wynn's GRW59 (John Hallett)
Nicola Menzies joined the record-breakers to set a new Ladies' standard (John Hallett)
Championship leader Wallace Menzies was the first to break Martin Groves' long-standing hill record (John Hallett)
WALLACE STORMS AHEAD
Event 10 at Wiscombe Park on 01/08/2021
As so often in the past, the fickle nature of Wiscombe weather provided much drama as BHC contenders made their annual visit to the challenging Devon parkland venue. With rain beginning to fall as the big single seaters approached the start line for their first class runs it was the earlier, dry running, turbocharged Gould-Suzuki GR59 of Paul Haimes that would set the qualifying pace for the first run-off. As a result of the subsequent downpour, neither Alex Summers nor Trevor Willis made the cut, the latter recovering from a recent crankshaft replacement and a broken engine mounting bolt, discovered early that morning.
However, with a drying track for the run-off it was the early running, slowest qualifiers who benefitted, Championship leader Wallace Menzies setting the pace with a 34.78s ascent in the Gould GR59 Cosworth. He was the only driver to dip below 35 seconds, Sean Gould chasing hard at the wheel of the ‘works’ Gould-Judd GR59 but running 0.66s adrift, with Scott Moran a further 0.74s behind driving Graham Wynn’s similar car.
Matthew Ryder’s Empire Wraith, David Warburton in the Gould GR59 and westcountryman Jason Tunnicliffe, making his first British run-off appearance in his Empire Evo 2, upheld 1600cc bike engined single seater honours by taking the next three positions, and Darren Gumbley may well have joined them had he not spun his Force TA. Series sponsor Graham Wynn, another beneficiary of an early run, was a popular seventh in his Gould.
When Richard Spedding came to the line he sensed an opportunity, and under darkening skies the boy from Barnsley rocketed up Wis Straight and over Bunny’s Leap before disappearing beneath the trees. But Esses Two on the approach to Sawbench hairpin caught the Raptor driver out. He clipped a kerb, lost traction, and spun into a very solid bank suffering suspension damage which would sideline the car for the day. Then the heavens opened and after a lengthy delay while the stricken car was recovered, those yet to run were faced with a treacherous track. So after qualifying at the head of the field Lee Griffiths (OMS), top qualifier Haimes, and Eynon Price (Force), never one to miss the opportunity for some sideways action, were left merely to complete the points scorers.
By the time the second run-off commenced the sun was out again, yet more rain threatened and a less than perfect track was soon to deteriorate when precipitation arrived. But this was of no consequence to the currently unstoppable Mr Menzies, and with wets up front and slicks at the rear he blasted the fishtailing red Gould up the hill more than a quarter of a second quicker than the equally hard charging Sean Gould. An early running Haimes drove the socks off his frequently troublesome car to score a brilliant third place, a scant eight hundredths ahead of a smooth as ever Moran.
An opposite locking Price was a close fifth in ever worsening conditions, taking a hundredth off a disappointed Alex Summers and six hundredths off Trevor Willis. Griffiths, Gumbley and local Force TA driver Kelvin Broad completed the points scorers, with Harry Pick (OMS) and David Warburton just missing out.
So despite the storms, Menzies increased his Championship lead and it is now difficult to see how this ever improving and increasingly confident driver can be beaten when equipped with such a powerful and well developed car. Unfortunately the Tillicoultry Quarries sister Gould was not present, the GR55B shared by Dave Uren and Nicola Menzies still suffering engine problems. However, it is hoped these will be resolved by the next Championship rounds at Shelsley Walsh in two weeks time, when the spectacular and much missed Force WH of Will Hall may also return to the fray.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Wiscombe Park
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 34.78s
Championship run-off, round 19: 1 Menzies 34.78s; 2 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 35.44s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 36.18s; 4 Matthew Ryder (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 36.96s; 5 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.93s; 6 Jason Tunnicliffe (1.6 Empire-Suzuki Evo 2) 39.12s; 7 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 39.88s; 8 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 43.12s; 9 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 43.15s; 10 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 44.24s; Darren Gumbley (1.0 Force-Kawasaki TA) DNF; Richard Spedding (1.3s GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 20: 1 Menzies 37.31s; 2 Gould 38.17s; 3 Haimes 38.97s; 4 Moran 39.05s; 5 Price 39.23s; 6 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 39.24s; 7 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 39.29s; 8 Griffiths 40.40s; 9 Gumbley 40.91s; 10 Kelvin Broad (1.3s Force-Suzuki TA) 40.95s; 11 Harry Pick (1.1 OMS-Suzuki 3000M) 41.18s; 12 Warburton 41.33s.
British Championship positions after round 20: 1 Menzies 182pts; 2 Summers 159; 3 Gould 135; 4 Moran 121; 5 Willis 87; 6 Haimes 49; 7 Uren 45; 8 Price 42; 9 Will Hall 39; 10 Warburton 35; etc.
With two more decisive wins, Wallace Menzies strengthened his Championship advantage (Nigel Cole)
Paul Haimes qualified top for the opening run-off, then finished a strong third in the closing shoot-out (Nigel Cole)
Jason Tunnicliffe finished sixth on his BHC run-off debut (Nigel Cole)
Matt Ryder chased home three top V8s for fourth place in the opening run-off (Nigel Cole)
MENZIES ON TOP AT PRESCOTT
Event 9 at Prescott on 25/07/2021
Wallace Menzies won each time as British hillclimbing's top trio disputed the final split seconds in two nail-biting Prescott run-offs. Edging clear of Sean Gould by a tenth of a second in the opener, Menzies closed to within five hundredths of Gould's hill record as the pair drew clear of Alex Summers by just over half a second. But in the closing shoot-out a mere quarter of a second covered all three. After a leisurely qualifier (at least by his standards!) Menzies produced the goods when it mattered and despite a rocket start from Gould, Summers, using every available inch of Prescott's narrow strip of tarmac, fought back to push the hill record-holder down to third place by just six hundredths.
Three significant contenders were missing from the day's competition. With Will Hall absent from the fray, his Force-AER still not repaired after the Gurston Down accident at the end of May, Trevor Willis and Dave Uren were also unable to run owing to engine problems during practice. Scott Moran and Richard Spedding were left to take up the cudgels against the Championship leaders, Moran closing to within three hundredths of Summers in the opening run-off and keeping Spedding's tiny supercharged Raptor, on only its second BHC appearance of the year, at arms length. But in the final shoot-out it was Spedding's turn to close in on the top three and he squeezed past the six-times champion's big GR59-Judd by seven hundredths to take fourth place.
Lockdown restrictions had previously confined Zach Zammit to his home country. But on his return to Britain, the former Maltese hillclimb champion produced a superb performance in his normally aspirated Empire Wraith, running just three tenths behind Spedding for a top six placing. His co-driver, former circuit racer Charles Hall, had been impressive at Prescott's Midland Championship meetingin April and continued in the same vein on his first British run-off appearance. In the opening shoot-out he grabbed the final point from Adam Greenen, who had qualified his 1100cc Empire for the sixth time this year, by a hundredth of a second. Hall then went one better in the afternoon when Zammit was edged down a place by Paul Haimes' GR59. After a brake-locking half spin at Pardon in the opening run-off had left him firmly in last place, Haimes fought back up to sixth in the final stanza to level on points with the absent Hall in seventh place on the series table.
Eynon Price tied with Dave Warburton for seventh place in the opening run-off and both joined a frantic chase in the afternoon which saw six drivers all in the 37sec bracket and covered by six tenths of a second. Haimes and Zammit headed the list, split by three hundredths. The group also included Johnathen Varley. After finally despatching Haimes' 2-litre Prescott record, set an amazing 19 years ago in his Dallara-Vauxhall, Varley proceeded to carve off even more time in successive run-offs aboard his ex.Graeme Wight Jr Predator with its newly installed Yamaha V8 engine, designed and built by Terry Davis in nearby Cheltenham.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Prescott
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.46s
Championship run-off, round 17: 1 Menzies 35.46s; 2 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 35.56; 3 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 36.18s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 36.50; 5 Richard Spedding (1.3s GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 37.20s; 6 Zach Zammit (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 37.50s; 7= Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 37.61s; 7= David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 37.61s; 9 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 38.13s; 10 Charles Hall (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 38.21s; 11 Adam Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 38.22s; 12 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 40.69s.
Championship run-off, round 18: 1 Menzies 35.75s; 2 Summers 35.94s; 3 Gould 35.99s; 4 Spedding 36.31s; 5 Moran 36.38s; 6 Haimes 37.26s; 7 Zammit 37.29s; 8 Warburton 37.38s; 9 Hall 37.83s; 10 Varley 37.85s; 11 Price 37.89s; 12 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 38.47s.
British Championship positions after round 18: 1 Menzies 162pts; 2 Summers 154; 3 Gould 117; 4 Moran 106; 5 Willis 83; 6 Uren 45; 7= Will Hall and Haimes 39; 9 Price 35; 10 Warburton 29; etc.
Wallace Menzies extended his Championship lead with his third double win of the year (John Hallett)
Sean Gould closed in on the series leader and hung on to his hill record by a thread (John Hallett)
Zach Zammit brought his Empire Wraith home sixth in the opening shoot-out (John Hallett)
Class record breaker Johnathen Varley completed a sixth run-off appearance in the Predator-TKD (John Hallett)
MENZIES' DAY AS RAIN STOPS PLAY
Event 8 at Harewood on 04/07/2021
Arriving at Harewood hotfoot from Barbon Manor with the rest of the BHC contingent, Wallace Menzies signalled his intentions right from the start by running a tenth of a second inside his own Harewood hill record on his very first practice run. He went on to dominate the opening run-off by a full two and a half seconds, the biggest winning margin of the year by far. Sadly, the opposition never got the chance to challenge that initial onslaught as with the second set of competition runs barely under way a second spell of rain, this time torrential, set in to leave the track awash and force the eventual abandonment of the meeting.
The first of the day's rain began to fall shortly after the start of the first runs and in doing so played havoc with qualifying. A dry start favoured the early running shared car drivers, such as top qualifier Andy Greenen, who just missed the downpour and planted his 1100cc Empire firmly at the top of the qualifying order. It also enabled Damien Bradley to ensure a rare closed car run-off appearance - the first by a Subaru - aboard his 4WD Legacy. Significantly, two top runners failed to make the run-off. Sean Gould just couldn't find the required pace in the wet, while the hapless Dave Uren's smoking Gould-NME had already expired during practice. Having stopped on the exit of Farmhouse, the car was pushed on to the infield to reveal an ominous pool of oil on the track.
Once the rain had stopped the track miraculously dried out in time for the run-off allowing Menzies, despite running eighth in the lineup, to take that decisive win. Conditions were clearly back to normal as his time was just 18 hundredths outside his hill record. Running just four cars earlier, even Summers failed to get within striking distance of the Championship leader. Into third place came a relieved Richard Spedding. Having sat out the entire season so far, his tiny Raptor's supercharged Suzuki unit, although not quite au point, was finally on song following its earlier maladies. Certainly on song enough to relegate six-times champion Scott Moran's big Gould V8 to fourth place by seven hundredths of a second.
After a somewhat wild practice session, Eynon Price tamed the Force TA to snatch fifth place by three tenths from top qualifier Greenen whose eventual top six finish, his best by far in a British run-off, ended a successful day. Even Allan Warburton couldn't catch the flying 1100, despite having for once outqualified his son David in their ex.works GR59. The family pair bracketed Harry Pick who, sharing Lee Griffiths' 1660 OMS-Suzuki after his 3000M had expired at Barbon the previous day, was one of the fortunate few to qualify before rain started. His benefactor was not so lucky ...
Liam Cooper was also in this group and ended up bagging the final point, his first of the season, in the Force TA which for once his wife Olivia, a victim of the rain, had failed to qualify. Despite giving it everything in the big Legacy, Bradley was just out of the points. But unluckiest of the twelve was Jack Cottrill. Having at last got his Dallara-XD running properly and not only that, qualified it for a British run-off, he failed to score after spinning the car at Quarry within feet of the finish line.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Harewood
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 47.99s
Championship run-off, round 15: 1 Menzies 47.99s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 50.49s; 3 Richard Spedding (1.3s GWR Raptor 2-Suzuki) 51.21s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 51.28s; 5 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 52.86s; 6 Andrew Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 53.15s; 7 Allan Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 53.21s; 8 Harry Pick (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 53.64s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 53.76s; 10 Liam Cooper (1.3 Force-Suzuki TA) 55.42s; 11 Damien Bradley (2.3t Subaru Legacy) 61.03s; 12 Jack Cottrill (2.7 Dallara-Cosworth XD) 74.87s.
Championship run-off, round 16: Not held - meeting abandoned due to adverse weather
British Championship positions after round 15: 1 Menzies 142pts; 2 Summers 137; 3 Gould 100; 4 Moran 93; 5 Willis 83; 6 Uren 45; 7 Will Hall 39; 8 Haimes 34; 9 Price 31; 10 Warburton 22; etc.
Having bettered it during practice, Menzies closed in on his hill record during the run-off (Steve Wilkinson)
Richard Spedding opened his 2021 account with third place (Steve Wilkinson)
A rare closed car appearance in a British run-off - Damien Bradley's Subaru Legacy (Steve Wilkinson)
Andy Greenen - top qualifier in an 1100! (Steve Wilkinson)
HONOURS EVEN AT BARBON
Event 7 at Barbon Manor on 03/07/2021
As the BHC circus arrived at the short, fast Cumbrian course above Barbon village, just four points separated reigning champion Wallace Menzies and former champion Alex Summers. With Sean Gould beginning to close in and all three drivers having broken the Doune track record two weeks earlier, there was much to look forward to. Then the clouds closed in and it began to rain.
Unfortunately championship regulars Will Hall and Richard Spedding remained absent. Will's Force was still not repaired following his heavy Gurston shunt, while with his recurring engine problems finally rectified, Richard was shaking the Raptor down at Harewood prior to the Yorkshire venue's BHC event the following day.
When the rain stopped and the sun came out the first competition class runs took place on a drying yet still damp track, which troubled Menzies not one bit as he qualified quickest for the first run-off. Then he nailed it, a 20.72 s charge narrowly holding off a determined Summers by 0.14s, the bark of the mighty Gould’s Cosworth XD echoing off the Barbondale fells and sounding imperious to those gathered around the startline clock.
A plucky third was Trevor Willis, customary bravery overcoming the power disadvantage of his OMS 28 RPE to pip Sean Gould’s ‘works’ GR59J by just over two tenths of a second for his best finish of the year. Scott Moran continued to come to terms with the brutality of Graham Wynn’s similar 4-litre Judd powered car to place it fifth, a further half second adrift, despite the close attentions of Eynon Price in his nimble 1600cc Force TA. Dave Uren climbed into seventh place in the now elderly Gould GR55 ahead of Paul Haimes, who was for once enjoying a trouble free run in the turbocharged 1300 Suzuki powered GR59.
The top ten scorers were completed by the 1600cc GR59 of a hard charging Dave Warburton and Lee Griffiths' OMS 28, cunningly enlarged to 1660cc for 2-litre class status, they being separated by a mere hundredth of a second. Olivia Cooper missed scoring with the 1600cc Empire Wraith by a quarter of a second, while Harry Pick’s 1100cc OMS 3000M expired shortly after leaving the line, coughing then dying before exiting the first corner at Crabtree.
Both Price and Haimes failed to qualify for the second run-off as the Welshman spun at Lafone hairpin, and Haimes’ ill luck returned when his car lunched its differential. Then Summers fought back, a stunning 20.26s ascent taking the DJ Firestorm to within 0.18s of Jos Goodyear’s 2015 course record on a less than perfect day. This was too much even for Menzies, but he maintained his four point championship advantage with a 20.49s run. This time Gould got the better of Willis by over half a second to finish third, despite stalling twice on the line, with Uren just a further tenth behind and Moran next, 0.35s astern. David Warburton continued to harry the V8s with mere 1600 Suzuki power to finish seventh, and Griffiths continued his good form with eighth place. Olivia Cooper and Simon Moyse in his supercharged 1300 GR59-Suzuki completed the top ten, separated by just four hundredths. So honours remained even as the BHC protagonists crossed the Pennines for the following day’s Harewood meeting, with Menzies, Summers and Gould still topping the table, and the gap between the top two remaining the same.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Barbon Manor
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 20.26s
Championship run-off, round 13: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 20.72s; 2 Summers 20.86s; 3 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 21.21s; 4 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 21.45s; 5 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 22.01s; 6 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 22.17s; 7 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 22.28s; 8 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 22.93s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 23.24s; 10 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 23.25s; 11 Olivia Cooper (1.3 Force-Suzuki TA) 23.56s; Harry Pick (1.1 OMS-Suzuki 3000M) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 14: 1 Summers 20.26s; 2 Menzies 20.49s; 3 Gould 20.66s; 4 Willis 21.07s; 5 Uren 21.18s; 6 Moran 21.53s; 7 Warburton 21.72s; 8 Griffiths 22.34s; 9 Cooper 22.64s; 10 Simon Moyse (1.3s Gould-Suzuki GR59) 22.68s; 11 Matthew Ryder (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 22.82s; 12 Nicola Menzies 23.54s.
British Championship positions after round 14: 1 Menzies 132pts; 2 Summers 128; 3 Gould 100; 4 Moran 86; 5 Willis 83; 6 Uren 45; 7 Will Hall 39; 8 Haimes 34; 9 Price 25; 10 Warburton 20; etc.
Alex Summers prepares for the fray (Keith Thomas)
Wallace Menzies and his team before the start (Keith Thomas)
Trevor Willis claimed his best combined result of the year (Keith Thomas)
The Cooper family roll out Olivia for her sixth run-off appearance in 2021 (Keith Thomas)
Event 6 at Doune on 20/06/2021
With the top three contenders in record-breaking mode, it was once again a pity that there were no spectators or commentary to enliven the most hotly contested day of the British Championship so far this year. On the opening run-off, Alex Summers shaved just two hundredths of a second off Scott Moran's seven year old hill record, only for defending champion Wallace Menzies to lower it still further, this time by a mere hundredth. Sean Gould kept a watching brief in third place, but in the second run-off the GR59-Judd driver really put the hammer down, eclipsing those earlier times by a further six hundredths to leave the record at 34.67s, an average speed from a standing start of over 87mph. This performance means that with three outright records, Gould now equals Menzies as the current most prolific record-holder on British Championship hills.
Unlike the two series leaders, Gould has failed to qualify for two rounds of this year's series. He is also the only one of the current top five that has not won the British Championship. But once dropped scores come into play his bid to remedy that omission could well gain considerable strength.
Six-times champion Scott Moran, back in full-time action this year aboard Graham Wynn's GR59-Judd after a quiet couple of seasons, chased the leading trio in each run-off with Trevor Willis extracting the maximum out of his OMS-RPE each time to stay in touch. Even Dave Uren's NME V8 powered Gould couldn't quite live with the three-times champion and had to settle for two sixth place finishes. Running ever quicker with his newly acquired TKD V8 power, Predator driver Johnathen Varley managed to keep this weekend's Raptor debutant Stuart Sugden at bay by six hundredths for seventh place in the morning run-off as the pair held off Paul Haimes. The turbocharged Gould-Suzuki driver had found more pace than the day before and even more in the afternoon, when he scythed past both Sugden and Varley to take seventh place and become, as he had the previous day, the first non-V8 home.
Eynon Price twice made the cut this time, bagging the final point each time, while Olivia Cooper and Les Mutch fought out the final two positions in the morning, resolved in Olivia's favour. Any chance of a similar duel in the afternoon run-off was, however, prevented when her Force TA broke a driveshaft on the startline and the jovial Scotsman took the final placing. With Andy Greenen in the points the day before and both Greenen brothers having each made the British run-off cut on three occasions this year, they were hopeful of doing it again. Unfortunately their hopes were dashed during practice after Andy's contact with the unforgiving Doune barriers and their Empire Evo 2 was sidelined for the day.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Doune
FTD: Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 34.67s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 11: 1 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 34.73s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 34.74s; 3 Gould 35.00s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 36.12s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 36.70s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 37.03s; 7 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 37.81s; 8 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor-Suzuki) 37.87s; 9 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 38.33s; 10 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 39.31s; 11 Olivia Cooper (1.3 Force-Suzuki TA) 39.44s; 12 Les Mutch (1.6 GWR Raptor-Suzuki) 55.90s.
Championship run-off, round 12: 1 Gould 34.67s; 2 Summers 34.76s; 3 Menzies 35.24s; 4 Moran 35.82s; 5 Willis 36.17s; 6 Uren 36.70s; 7 Haimes 37.37s; 8 Sugden 38.29s; 9 Varley 38.39s; 10 Price 38.93s; 11 Mutch 39.64s; Cooper DNS.
British Championship positions after round 12: 1 Menzies 113pts; 2 Summers 109; 3 Gould 85; 4 Moran 75; 5 Willis 69; 6 Will Hall 39; 7 Uren 35; 8 Haimes 31; 9 Price 20; 10 Sugden 16; etc.
Sean Gould had the final say in Doune's record bonanza (David Baxter)
Even the day's second hill record was not enough to keep the defending champion ahead (David Baxter)
Alex Summers was first to break the hill record (David Baxter)
Doune ladies' record-holder Olivia Cooper qualified her 1600cc Force TA for all four of the weekend's run-offs (David Baxter)
MENZIES UNDER FIRE AT DOUNE
Event 5 at Doune on 19/06/2021
With no spectators or commentary at Doune the atmosphere may have been subdued, but the action on track was as fierce as ever as first Alex Summers and then Sean Gould demoted championship leader Wallace Menzies to second place in consecutive run-offs. With an imperious performance on the daunting Scottish hill, Summers led Menzies home by eight tenths with a run to FTD during the morning shoot-out, while Scott Moran equalled his best finish of the year so far in third place, despite running a second adrift of the defending champion. Gould missed the first run-off after problems on his qualifying run, but made up for it later with his first win of the year on one of his favourite hills, in a time just seven hundredths shy of Summers' FTD.
Another to duplicate his best finish of 2021, Trevor Willis took fourth place as he stormed the barrier-lined slopes at 10/10ths in the opening shoot-out in another supreme effort to overcome the increasing power advantage of the series leaders. It didn't work out quite so well for him in the second stanza; after a big moment at the notorious East Brae he had to settle for eighth place and his worst finish of the year. Sensation of the meeting was Stuart Sugden, the former Mini ace putting his local knowledge to good use to finish the opening run-off in a fine fifth place on his single seater debut aboard Les Mutch's 1600cc Raptor-Suzuki, leaving the car's owner to settle for ninth.
Delighted with the new Terry Davis built 2-litre Yamaha-based V8 in the back of the Predator, recently installed by the car's original constructor Graeme Wight Jr, Johnathen Varley ran a quarter of a second shy of Sugden although both drivers slipped down the order in the afternoon, Varley finishing just out of the points. Paul Haimes, his temperamental Gould-Suzuki turbocar displaying welcome reliability in recent weeks, shadowed Varley first time up. Sixth place in the second shoot-out and the first non-V8 home was his best result of the year so far as he chased Dave Uren, who had missed the morning cut in the ex.Groves Gould-NME.
Two 1100s made the cut each time, class winner Harry Pick setting their pace in the opening run-off with eighth place in his spaceframe OMS 3000M ahead of Mutch's Raptor and Andy Greenen, the Empire driver finally bagging his first point of the year on his fourth attempt. He would improve his points tally to three later as he demoted Pick to the final point. Doune ladies' record-holder Olivia Cooper made the cut each time, although finishing out of the points in her Force TA while Eynon Price, who had led the 1600cc class to qualify after the first runs, was edged out of the second run-off by Olivia as she eventually took the class win.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Doune
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 35.12s
Championship run-off, round 9: 1 Summers 35.12s; 2 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 35.92s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 37.04s; 4 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 37.17s; 5 Stuart Sugden (1.6 GWR Raptor-Suzuki) 38.92s; 6 Johnathen Varley (2.0 GWR Predator-TKD YV8) 39.15s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 39.21; 8 Harry Pick (1.1 OMS-Suzuki 3000M) 39.53s; 9 Les Mutch (1.6 GWR Raptor-Suzuki) 39.62s; 10 Andy Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 39.96s; 11 Olivia Cooper (1.3 Force-Suzuki TA) 40.58s; 12 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 41.22s.
Championship run-off, round 10: 1 Gould 35.19s; 2 Menzies 35.62s; 3 Summers 35.66s; 4 Moran 36.91s; 5 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 38.22s; 6 Haimes 38.41s; 7 Sugden 38.98s; 8 Willis 39.90s; 9 Greenen 39.98s; 10 Pick 40.07s; 11 Varley 40.19s; 12 Cooper 40.22s.
British Championship positions after round 10: 1 Menzies 94pts; 2 Summers 90; 3 Gould 66; 4 Moran 61; 5 Willis 56; 6 Will Hall 39; 7= Uren and Haimes 25; 9 Price 18; 10= David Warburton and Graham Wynn 14; etc.
Alex Summers took a decisive win in the openng run-off (David Baxter)
Sensation of the meeting was Stuart Sugden who ran fifth on his BHC debut in the 1600cc Raptor (David Baxter)
Scott Moran took a season best third place in the Gould-Judd (David Baxter)
Johnathen Varley had a successful weekend with newly acquired TKD YV8 power (David Baxter)
Event 4 at Shelsley Walsh on 06/06/2021
Alex Summers' DJ Firestorm might have lacked the ultimate power and speed of the Gould GR59s of Wallace Menzies and Sean Gould, but rocket starts and pin-sharp handling gave him the edge over his two main rivals during an intensely competitive encounter at Shelsley Walsh.
With 22sec runs becoming almost commonplace during 2020's truncated season, ideal conditions for Saturday's practice runs promised much as the magic figure was approached again. But on Sunday, a spectating Martin Groves breathed a sigh of relief as morning rain had left the Teme Valley hill slippery and his 2008 record of 22.58s, the oldest one in the BHC books, looked in little danger. Top Ess in particular caught out several drivers during the class runs, but in drying, though still not ideal, conditions for the pre-lunch run-off Summers took full advantage. He pulled out almost half a second on practice leader Gould for the win, with Menzies six hundredths adrift in third place.
In the best conditions of the day the closing shoot-out was a frantic affair, with the top six drivers in both qualifying and the run-off all covered by just over half a second. With both drivers storming the finish beam at 150mph it was Menzies' turn to edge ahead of Gould, by five hundredths, But neither could catch Summers as the 2015 champion, despite being 12mph slower over the line, took his second win of the day. With one of the best starts of the day and an Ess approach speed that, at 136mph, was 10mph up on his rival, he shaded out Menzies by a mere two hundredths of a second to set FTD and close to within four points of the Championship leader.
Although Will Hall was missing from the fray, his Force-AER still not ready after his Gurston accident the previous weekend, the next three runners mirrored their standings on the Championship table. Scott Moran, Trevor Willis and Dave Uren (who had missed the four rounds at Gurston with engine problems) maintained station for each run-off. Still dialling into his new mount for this year, the GR59-Judd, Moran was in closest touch with the three leaders, while the ever-committed Willis lost no opportunity of making the most of where the steep slopes of Shelsley Walsh deviated from the straight and narrow to edge out Uren's Gould-NME, the record-holding car in Groves' hands, by a hundredth in the closing bout.
Behind the top six Paul Haimes, revelling in the new-found reliability of his turbocharged GR59-Suzuki, matched Willis's 135mph over the line for seventh place each time, twice heading off Dave Warburton's normally aspirated version by three tenths and closing to within two points of Eynon Price to take over ninth place on the series table. Price himself made the cut each time, in the opening bout bringing his 1600cc Force TA home clear of Graham Wynn, final points scorer each time in the Gould-Judd, although Price finished just out of the points in the afternoon. Matt Ryder was another 1600 driver who made the cut before lunch, eventually rounding off the runners in his Empire Wraith. The Greenen brothers put in a great performance in their 1100cc Empire Evo, Adam making the line-up before lunch and both he and Andy joining the elite twelve for the closing shoot-out, Adam finishing in the points with ninth place.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Shelsley Walsh
FTD: Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 23.15s
Championship run-off, round 7: 1 Summers 24.07s; 2 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 24.51s; 3 Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59M) 24.57s; 4 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 24.74s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 24.93s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 25.09s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 25.56s; 8 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 25.91s; 9 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 26.77s; 10 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 26.90s; 11 Adam Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 26.91s; 12 Matthew Ryder (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) 27.15s.
Championship run-off, round 8: 1 Summers 23.15s; 2 Menzies 23.17s; 3 Gould 23.22s; 4 Moran 23.36s; 5 Willis 23.75s; 6 Uren 23.76s; 7 Haimes 24.76s; 8 Warburton 25.09s; 9 Adam Greenen 25.34s; 10 Wynn 25.41s; 11 Price 25.63s; 12 Andy Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 25.86s.
British Championship positions after round 8: 1 Menzies 76pts; 2 Summers 72; 3 Gould 56; 4= Moran and Willis 46; 6 Will Hall 39; 7 Uren 19; 8 Price 18; 9 Haimes 16; 10= Warburton and Wynn 14; etc.
Alex Summers was on top form taking both run-off wins and FTD (John Hallett)
Wallace Menzies had to give best to Summers by just two hundredths in the closing run-off (John Hallett)
Dave Uren was back in the fray after missing four rounds at Gurston (John Hallett)
With both Greenen brothers in the closing run-off, Adam was well in the Shelsley points with his 1100cc Empire (John Hallett)
MENZIES' RECORD GURSTON
Event 3 at Gurston Down on 30/05/2021
Moments of high drama punctuated the second day of Gurston Down's British Championship double-header. During the run-offs not only was a new hill record was established, but later Will Hall's Force-AER was involved in a high speed roll before the finish line from which, happily, Will emerged none the worse for wear. It was a successful day all round for Wallace Menzies, who not only added two more wins to his tally (he's now won five out of six run-offs) but shaved three hundredths of a second off Scott Moran's 2014 hill record on the way to the first of them. 'It's quite helpful that we have two full days of running here in really good weather' he said afterwards. 'A hill record is a fantastic bonus but nothing more than that. The main thing is to do as well as you can in each run-off.' In what in F1 used to be called the 'tyre war', two different companies are now involved in top level hillclimbing. Will Hall's win the previous day had been on Avons, while Wallace's record was set on Pirellis.
Almost matching Menzies' consistency up front has been that of his pursuer Alex Summers. Just a tenth behind the Scot's record run in the morning, the Firestorm driver secured his fourth runner-up spot of the year before being edged out in the afternoon by Sean Gould, who stormed the Hollow trap at 145mph to run just six hundredths behind the winner. Earlier, Will Hall had run a half-second adrift of Gould for fourth place in the morning ahead of Scott Moran, but with his unfortunate exit in the afternoon it was left to Trevor Willis to pick up the place.
After finishing seventh before lunch, Simon Moyse was delighted with his best ever BHC run-off finish with fifth place in the rejuvenated GR59-Suzuki. His opposite number in the turbocharged version, Paul Haimes, was dealt yet another cruel blow before the opening runoff. Having qualified seventh during what would remain an unbeaten sequence of class wins this year, a leaking plenum sidelined him from the run-off and any further participation. In what turned out to be a day of retirements across the board as the weekend's hectic schedule took its toll, Scott Moran failed to come to the line for his second qualifying run with starter motor problems. Reluctant to push-start the Gould, not only did Graham Wynn fail to take up his sixth place in the running order, but Moran didn't even get a chance to qualify.
Eventually only nine drivers scored in the afternoon shoot-out. Dave Warburton was happy to retrieve sixth place after being out of the points before lunch, with Alan Warburton split from his son by the redoubtable Eynon Price to take his first British points of the year. Steve Owen was just in the points today, while after lunch his place was taken by Lee Griffiths, who also got his first 2021 points on the board in the 1661cc OMS 28-Suzuki. Andy Greenen once again drove the wheels off the Empire-Suzuki to make the afternoon cut and had he finished the run he'd have been in the points, but sadly the engine cut out at Ashes.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59) 25.34s (outright hill record)
Championship run-off, round 5: 1 Menzies 25.34s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.44s; 3 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 25.54s; 4 Will Hall (2.0t Force-AER WH) 26.18s; 5 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 26.28s; 6 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 26.34s; 7 Simon Moyse (1.3s Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.07s; 8 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 28.09s; 9 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 28.40s; 10 Steve Owen (2.7 OMS-RPE 28) 28.42s; 11 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.49s; Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) DNS
Championship run-off, round 6: 1 Menzies 25.61s; 2 Gould 25.67s; 3 Summers 25.82s; 4 Willis 26.42s; 5 Moyse 28.08s; 6 David Warburton 28.13s; 7 Price 28.41s; 8 Allan Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 29.18s; 9 Lee Griffiths (1.7 OMS-Suzuki 25) 29.30s; Andy Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) DNF; Hall DNF; Wynn DNS.
British Championship positions after round 6: 1 Menzies 59pts; 2 Summers 52; 3= Gould and Hall 39; 5 Willis 34; 6 Moran 32; 7 Price 16; 8 Wynn 12; 9 Moyse 10; 10 Dave Uren 9; etc.
Wallace Menzies reset the outright Gurston record (Steve Lister)
Alex Summers is once again proving to be Menzies' strongest opposition (Steve Lister)
Scott Moran's challenge faltered with a non-start in afternoon (Steve Lister)
Simon Moyse scored a best-ever fifth place in the closing run-off (Steve Lister)
HALL AND MENZIES WIN AS GURSTON REOPENS
Event 2 at Gurston Down on 29/05/2021
Hillclimbing returned to Gurston Down on the traditional May Bank holiday date, but this year the weekend took on a different aspect. Over a busy two days in the sunshine, for the first time the BARC Southwest Centre organisers managed, and with great efficiency, to fit in two entirely separate British Championship meetings at their fast hill amid the rolling Wiltshire downland.
On the first of Saturday's two British Championship run-offs, defending champion Wallace Menzies was knocking on the door of Scott Moran's 2014 hill record as he set the day's outright pace to maintain his series lead. But despite having clocked an eye-watering 160mph through the finish beam on each run, the Gould-Cosworth driver had to settle for third place in the afternoon as Will Hall finally blew the cobwebs out of his Force-AER turbo to head Alex Summers' Firestorm-Cosworth home for the win by just two hundredths of a second. With four rounds gone and Summers yet to win but with three second places in the bag, these three drivers were beginning to establish a grip on the leading Championship places.
Top qualifier each time, Sean Gould chased home Hall for fourth place in the morning, but with Scott Moran clocking a day's best 147mph on the downhill chute into Hollow in each run-off, the duel between the two GR59 drivers finished in his favour in the afternoon as he edged the cars' constructor down to fifth. A fine effort by Trevor Willis had edged out the 6-times champion to sixth place before lunch but in the afternoon, as he'd come to expect at Gurston, he succumbed to the inevitable. Despite being a match for the front runners to the tricky Karousel complex, his RPE powered OMS was no match for the power play on the climb over Burke's Rise to the finish and Trevor was destined to round off the top six.
Paul Haimes reigned supreme over the (only slightly) less hectic half of the field, a trouble-free day in the turbocharged GR59-Suzuki netting seventh each time ahead of Graham Wynn in the Gould-Judd V8 shared with Moran. In a day-long duel, Dave Warburton and the ebullient Eynon Price swapped ninth and tenth places in their respective 1600s. In a fine performance aboard his diminutive Empire-Suzuki, Andy Greenen had made the cut each time - no mean feat at Gurston for an 1100cc car. Unlike his brother Adam at Loton a fortnight earlier, he just failed to get into the points, but headed off Steve Owen in the 'works' OMS-RPE V8 in the afternoon. A disappointed Simon Moyse had to settle for last place in the morning, when the supercharged Suzuki in his GR59 developed a misfire leaving the startline.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59) 25.55s
Championship run-off, round 3: 1 Menzies 25.55s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 25.88s; 3 Will Hall (2.0t Force-AER WH) 25.97s; 4 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 26.05s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 26.60s; 6 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 26.67s; 7 Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) 27.37s; 8 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 28.13s; 9 David Warburton (1.6 Gould-Suzuki GR59) 28.26s; 10 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 28.66s; 11 Andy Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 29.15s; 12 Simon Moyse (1.3s Gould-Suzuki GR59) 39.87s.
Championship run-off, round 4: 1 Hall 26.00s; 2 Summers 26.02s; 3 Menzies 26.20s; 4 Moran 26.48s; 5 Gould 26.58s; 6 Willis 26.79s; 7 Haimes 27.65; 8 Wynn 27.87s; 9 Price 28.73; 10 Warburton 28.92s; 11 Greenen 29.01s; 12 Steve Owen (2.7 OMS-RPE 28) 29.27s.
British Championship positions after round 4: 1 Menzies 38pts; 2 Summers 35; 3 Hall 32; 4 Moran 26; 5= Gould and Willis 22; 7 Price 10; 8= Wynn and Dave Uren 9; 10 Haimes 8; etc.
Will Hall crests Deer's Leap on his way to a run-off win (Steve Lister)
Sean Gould topped the Q-sheets each time (Steve Lister)
Paul Haimes bagged a pair of seventh places in his GR59 turbo (Steve Lister)
Andy Greenen twice made the cut in his 1100cc Empire (Steve Lister)
Event 1 at Loton Park on 16/05/2021
Wallace Menzies began his British Hillclimb title defence in the best possible way with a double run-off win as the Championship season opened at Loton Park. On a hill that saw numerous incidents during the day as it was not only 'green', having not seen competition for almost eighteen months, but also damp for much of the day, his second run-off shot in the Gould-Cosworth GR59 was a mere quarter second shy of Sean Gould's hill record set in September 2019, the last time a British Championship meeting was held. Gould himself spun out of the opening qualifying runs at Keepers, but fought back in the works GR59-Judd to chase Menzies home in the second shoot-out and displace Alex Summers, who had brought home his DJ Firestorm, equipped with a 2.7-litre Cosworth XD since 2020, behind the leader in the morning run-off.
After a couple of Midland Championship shakedowns in the GR59-Judd shared with Graham Wynn, Scott Moran marked his full-time return to the Championship in a car quite different to the all-conquering GR61X in which he had taken six BHC titles. He held off Will Hall for a podium finish in the first stanza but succumbed to the fast-starting Force-AER turbo in the second. Behind them, Trevor Willis held off Dave Uren each time, both returning in the familiar OMS-RPE and Gould-NME GR55B respectively. It might have been different had not Uren's second run-off challenge been blunted when he ran wide at Fallow. Out again in his 1.6-litre Force-Suzuki TA, Eynon Price, whose rocket starts in the bike-engined machine eclipsed even Hall's, displayed astonishing commitment to twice make the cut in less than ideal conditions. Outpacing most of the field to the halfway split at Triangle on each run-off, he went on to shadow Uren's big V8 each time.
Graham Wynn opened his BHC campaign alongside Moran with three points for eighth place in the morning, but missed the afternoon cut by a couple of seconds. Chasing Price this time was Ben Stephenson in the supercharged 1.3-litre Empire Wraith, who converted a strong ninth place qualifier into ninth at the end. With everybody pushed down a place after Gould's strong finish in the afternoon, Andy Coley brought the V6 Gould home tenth after a ninth place before lunch. The final point in the morning after a slightly 'bogged' start went to the smallest car in the run-off, the 1100cc Empire Evo-Suzuki of Adam Greenen. He made the afternoon cut too, but finished just out of the points. Steve Owen had also missed out earlier and failed to make the second cut in the works OMS 28, now equipped with 2.7-litre RPE V8 power.
Having qualified ahead of Owen in the morning, Matthew Ryder fairly flew the bike-engined Empire Wraith during the opening run-off but unfortunately the car coasted to a halt after Triangle. Paul Haimes had qualified eighth for the second shoot-out, but the turbocharged Gould-Suzuki GR59 failed to come to the line.
Richard Spedding's Raptor-Suzuki, tipped to challenge the front-runners in '21, was a notable absentee on Sunday after engine problems in practice the previous day. The Raptor marque was nevertheless represented by Richard Matossian, having his maiden outing in the familiar blue BMW powered version previously campaigned by Robert Kenrick.
Avon Tyres Motorsport UK British Hillclimb Championship, Loton Park
FTD: Wallace Menzies (3.3 Gould-Cosworth XD GR59) 43.55s
Championship run-off, round 1: 1 Menzies 44.11s; 2 Alex Summers (2.7 DJ Firestorm-Cosworth XD) 44.55s; 3 Scott Moran (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 45.17s; 4 Will Hall (2.0t Force-AER WH) 45.41s; 5 Trevor Willis (3.2 OMS-RPE 28) 45.62s; 6 Dave Uren (3.5 Gould-NME GR55B) 45.95s; 7 Eynon Price (1.6 Force-Suzuki TA) 46.57s; 8 Graham Wynn (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GRW59) 48.75s; 9 Andy Coley (2.5 Gould-Cosworth KF GR55) 49.81s; 10 Adam Greenen (1.1 Empire Evo 2-Suzuki) 49.83s; 11 Steve Owen (2.7 OMS-RPE 28) 50.25s; Matthew Ryder (1.6 Empire Wraith-Suzuki) DNF.
Championship run-off, round 2: 1 Menzies 43.55s; 2 Sean Gould (4.0 Gould-Judd DB4 GR59BJ) 44.27s; 3 Summers 44.32s; 4 Hall 44.54s; 5 Moran 45.09s; 6 Willis 45.49s; 7 Uren 45.64s; 8 Price 47.13s; 9 Ben Stephenson (1.3s Empire-Suzuki Evo2) 48.58s; 10 Coley 49.22s; 11 Greenen 49.60s; Paul Haimes (1.3t Gould-Suzuki GR59) DNS.
British Championship positions after round 2: 1 Menzies 20pts; 2 Summers 17; 3= Hall and Moran 14; 5 Willis 11; 6= Gould and Uren 9; 8 Price 7; 9= Coley and Wynn 3; etc.
Wallace Menzies began a promising title defence with two wins (John Hallett)
After a shaky start, Sean Gould bounced back for a strong second place in the second run-off (John Hallett)
Will Hall brought the Force-AER home fourth each time (John Hallett)
Trevor Willis held off Dave Uren in each run-off (John Hallett)
Back to Top