Championship challenger Alex Summers broke the outright hill record on both days, as he ended the weekend leading the BHC presented by Avon Tyres by himself for the first time in the 2022 season. With defending Champion Wallace Menzies also under his previous record on both the Saturday and Sunday and Scott Moran winning the final run-off of the double-header weekend, the Championship battle is finely poised. On a dry track with only a cold North wind dropping the temperature as Sunday wore on, the leading three put on a fabulous show in what is turning out to be a classic season of British Hillclimbing. Summers has a two point lead from Menzies with Moran a further five points back in third. After a consistent weekend Matt Ryder consolidated his fourth place in the Championship and now has a four point lead over Trevor Willis who sits in fifth.
The first run-off of the weekend saw the outright record equalled as things really started to hot up. The top three Championship contenders really were in a different league to the rest with around a second separating them from the other qualifiers. Third fastest qualifier Scott Moran put what he must have thought was a contender for the win when he put in a time of 25.49 seconds in his Judd engined Gould GR59, some two tenths faster than anyone had gone in the qualification runs. He was to be disappointed though with Alex Summers, carrying massive speed all weekend through the daunting and super quick Hollow bend and Karousel complex in his DJ Firestorm Cosworth XD, to equal the outright record with a time of 25.34 seconds. Fastest qualifier Wallace Menzies then came to the line in his beautifully presented Gould GR59-M Cosworth XD. After what looked like a super run, he finished an agonising six hundredths of a second behind Alex in second place with a time of 25.40 seconds. Game on for the weekend and in fact the Championship battle! As previously mentioned, the rest were in a separate battle for Championship points with Trevor Willis (OMS 28) coming out on top in an excellent fourth, by just over a tenth of a second from Matt Ryder (Gould GR59J) in fifth. A further four tenths back was Dave Uren in his Gould GR55B NME in sixth. An on form Graham Wynn finished seventh in the Gould GR59 that he shares with Scott Moran, a quarter of a second clear of Richard Spedding, who finished an impressive eighth in his little 1600cc GWR Raptor 2. Lee Griffiths, who is having a super season, finished ninth in his 1660cc OMS 28, a mere four hundredths of a second clear of Dave Warburton, whose 1600cc Gould GR59 was looking a little underpowered and was consequently losing time on the long climb to the finish line. Will Hall, who was suffering some gear selection issues, finished out of the points in eleventh with Jack Cottriill fading to finish a disappointing twelfth.
The second run-off was another classic and produced a new outright record and victory for Alex with a blistering time of 25.05 seconds. He was just over a quarter of a second clear of Wallace who was also under the existing record, with a time of 25.32 seconds. Pinching himself in disbelief no doubt and a mere eight hundredths of a second behind Wallace in third place was Scott. It must have been hard to accept that a time six hundredths of a second outside the existing record would result in ‘just’ third place. It just goes to show how fine the margins are at the top this season and how important it is to secure the extra point for breaking the existing outright record. Fourth once again was Trevor Willis, this time just four one hundredths of a second ahead of the consistent Matt Ryder. Will Hall managed to improve to sixth, just over two tenths of a second ahead of Graham Wynn who was having a good day in the big Gould. After qualifying tenth Adam Greenen managed to improve into the twenty sevens. His excellent 27.65 second run securing an impressive eighth place finish, in the new for this season motorcycle engined Empire Evo 3. Dave Warburton managed to find a few hundredths to finish ninth just ahead Andy Greenen who secured the final point in the car that he shares with brother Adam. Johnathen Varley missed out on a point by just two hundredths of a second, finishing eleventh with an excellent time of 28.37 seconds in his V8 motorcycle engined GWR Predator. And what of fifth fastest qualifier Dave Uren? Sadly Dave stalled the Gould NME as he dropped the clutch off the start line. With his rear wheels having crossed the line this was a ‘failed run’ and as a result no British Championship points. An opportunity for good points unfortunately goes begging for Dave
Sunday dawned dry, but with rain threatening at times it looked likely that Gurston would catch a shower or two. Fortunately the rain stayed away and didn’t impact on track conditions. The cold wind did, keeping the temperatures down, particularly later in the day and it looked like record breaking would be difficult. Alex Summers and Wallace Menzies had other ideas though as battle recommenced! Third fastest qualifier Scott Moran posted a time of 25.87 seconds, impressive but some eight tenths of a second outside Alex’s record from the Saturday. With this being good enough for third it looked like times were getting a little slower. Wrong – second fastest qualifier Wallace Menzies took a deep breath and set a time exactly equal to his time in the second run-off on Saturday of 25.32 seconds. Surely this would take the win? Fastest qualifier Alex Summers then came to the line. Stunning speed in the early section of the hill and a beautiful demonstration of carrying good speed in the upper section and another new record was set of exactly 25.00 seconds. An absolutely incredible performance from a man, who we should not forget, suffered an enormous accident at Gurston only five years ago. The rest were a little closer this time with Matt Ryder securing an excellent fourth with his best time of the weekend of 26.15 seconds. No doubt fuelled by the frustration of stalling off the line in Saturday’s second run-off, Dave Uren recovered to finish fifth with another weekend’s best of 26.30 seconds. Trevor Willis was three tenths back in sixth just four hundredths of a second ahead of Will Hall and the improving Jack Cottrill, who finished a career best eighth in a British Championship run-off with a time of 27.80 seconds. Andy Greenen was in the points once again in ninth just ahead of Richard Spedding, who secured tenth but was starting to suffer with some technical issues with the Raptor. A frustrated eleventh and just out of the points was Johnathen Varley who looked like he could extract no more speed out of the Predator. After qualifying an excellent eleventh and getting within a quarter of second of the Gurston Ladies record Nicola Menzies faded a little to finish twelfth.
The final run-off of the weekend was then upon us. With track temperature falling away what we would see this time around? Would Alex Summers be able to secure a perfect four out of four run- off victories? Wallace and Scott would surely have something to say about that. And so it proved. Wallace Menzies qualified and finished third. His time of 25.92 seconds his slowest in the run-offs of the weekend. Second fastest qualifier Scott Moran was next to the line. Fast down the hill once again and a mind blowing 159mph over the finish line showed his determination to produce a good time. He wasn’t to be disappointed, his time of 25.47 seconds set a high bar for Alex to jump. Alex was quick off the line and into Karousel as he had been all weekend but it just wasn’t to be, a time of 25.54 seconds leaving him just seven hundredths of a second behind Scott. This was a vital second run-off win for Scott in the 2022 season, and keeps him in the fight for overall BHC honours. The rest were headed this time by Dave Uren with an excellent time of 26.31 seconds, leaving him over half a second ahead of Matt Ryder who took fifth and Will Hall two tenths back in sixth. Trevor Willis appeared to struggle a little in the cooler conditions fading to seventh with a time in the 27’s. Graham Wynn was pleased to finish the weekend with a strong eighth place, which catapulted him into an excellent tenth place overall in the 2022 Championship. After a solid points scoring day Jack Cottrill finished in ninth leaving him an encouraging twelfth place overall. After an excellent weekend Andy Greenen completed the points scorers in tenth just over four tenths of a second ahead of brother Adam who finished out of the points in eleventh. Its a tasty scrap in the Championship between the two brothers who now sit Andy in fourteenth overall with Adam one point and one place behind in fifteenth! Nicola Menzies unfortunately finished out of the points for the second time in twelfth.
It was all change in the overall positions in the class based BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James. After a class record breaking run on the Saturday to take the overall lead in the Cup overnight, Robert Marwood lost control of his Renault Clio 172 under braking on the approach to Karousel, unfortunately ending up firmly in the Recticel barriers. The resulting damage put him out for the rest of the day and left the door open for the chasing pack. Allan McDonald took full advantage of this in his amazing four wheel drive Mitsubishi engined ‘Mini’. His four class winning runs and maximum points giving him the overall lead. Young Alex Coles also had a perfect weekend in his Formula Ford Van Diemen RF86 and now sits in equal second place overall, some seven points behind Allan. Lee Griffiths continued his excellent season with good points once again. A win and three third places sees him now in equal second overall in his OMS28.
The last words must go to new 2022 BHC Championship leader Alex Summers who said “ Gurston hasn’t always been a happy place for me, particularly after my 2017 accident. To win and now hold the outright record is therefore a massive step forward and a monkey off my back. I am a big fan of the double header format. The quick fire nature of the weekend really suits me as I don’t have to relearn the hill and track conditions run after run. The team has made significant progress over the last couple of weeks, which resulted in a three tenths of a second gain in the upper reaches of the hill where power is key. A big thank you to Cosworth, DJ Racecars and everyone else involved in the project. It all bodes well for the Shelsley weekend. I’m really looking forward to it!”.
The Championship now moves straight onto the iconic Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire this weekend 4th & 5th June. Who will take the honours this time around? Will we see another new outright record? Who will end the weekend leading the Championship in what is turning into an absolutely classic BHC season? Advance tickets can be purchased by clicking on the following button.