Name: Alex Coles
Home Town: Plymouth
Competition Car: Van Diemen RF86 - Ford
Alex is another son of a regular competitor. His dad Neal has competed in Hillclimbs as well as sporting car trials for many years. His Grandad Edward, was also a competitor. Dad Neal started Hillclimbing in a Sylva Stryker before moving onto a Hayabusa engined Westfield. Neal’s first steps into single seater race cars were in an OMS CF04 which was fitted with a 1300cc Hayabusa before it was upgraded with a larger 1600cc unit. His current competition car is an OMS 28, again fitted with a 1600cc Hayabusa based engine. This has sat in the garage for the last year while Alex has taken his first steps into the world of competitive Hillclimbing!
Alex’s first experience of a racing car was in 2020, as a fifteen year old at a test day at Curborough sprint course in the Midlands. This ‘lit the fuse’ and Alex was definitely hooked and looking for more. Competitive outings in a Formula Ford Van Diemen RF89 at both the 2021 Loton Park and Curborough Formula Ford Festivals started to show what Alex was capable of, and plans were made to compete nationally in the 2022 class based BHC Cup, presented by Footman James. A drive sharing another Formula Ford, a Van Diemen RF86, with experienced hillclimber Caroline Ryder was the obvious choice.
Alex has had an exceptional first season of motorsport. His sixteen class wins, six with new class records at Doune and Wiscombe, have cemented his place as Champion. Class wins have also been achieved at Prescott, Gurston Down and Shelsley Walsh. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that Alex has had no previous competitive experience at any of the BHC Cup venues that he has competed at in the season to date! The one thing that Alex has found challenging however is having to change gear manually. With no reference point from driving a road car and with the gear lever being on the right hand side of a tight single seater cockpit, this has proven to be a difficult skill to learn. Don’t forget that they don’t have gear levers on too many computer game consoles either! A number of runs have therefore unfortunately been compromised this year, as Alex has attempted to find a gear in what is known to be a tricky Hewland Mk9 gearbox!
Winning the BHC Cup in his first season of motorsport is the obvious highlight of Alex’s short career in motorsport. After a fourth place finish in a rain affected second timed run at Prescott a few weeks ago, Alex travelled home to Plymouth thinking that he had lost the opportunity to secure the BHC Cup. To find out when he got home, that his close competition had also failed to win their class on the second timed runs and that he had in fact secured the Cup came as a little bit of a shock. It was a really nice one though!
For 2023 it looks likely that Alex will share his Dad’s Hayabusa engined OMS 28. With twice the power, slicks, wings and the effects of downforce to take in, it will be a steep learning curve. Changing gear via a steering wheel mounted paddle shift will at least mean that one difficulty has been removed from the equation though. Watch out Dad the young lad is coming to get you!
A fact that not many people know
Alex is in fact yet to receive his provisional driving licence and has therefore never driven a car on a public road! This however, is in hand as he has applied for and is due to receive it very soon. He will then study the highway code for his theory test and hopefully take his test over the coming months. Who knows Alex may even be licensed and legal to drive on public roads when he returns to competitive action next season!
Loton Park Fact
With having competed at last years Loton Park Formula Ford festival in his first Hillclimb, Alex for once has some relevant track experience to call upon. He loves the technical nature of the bottom section of Loton Park, which allied with the faster section up Cedar Straight and through Museum corner towards the finish line, make this one of his favourite tracks. Can he break the Formula Ford record and finish the season on a real high? Come and see for yourself. Advance tickets can be purchased on the following button.