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Double Ryder victory at Harewood opener

Matthew Ryder opened his British Hillclimb Championship account in fine form with a double victory at Harewood on Sunday.

Ryder’s Gould GR59 topped both run-offs as Trevor Willis led the pursuit with two tremendous runs in his OMS 28 to record one of his best days for some time.

After two aborted events, the BHC finally got underway in Yorkshire but the notable absentee was reigning champion Wallace Menzies after a hefty accident in wet qualifying at Craigantlet a week earlier.

Menzies will soon be back but Ryder knew that he needed to take as much profit as he could at Harewood to get an early advantage over Menzies.

Ryder said: “It was a bit of a scrappy second run and I thought I'd be about third. But that's a fantastic start to the season and I needed to make hay while Wallace is away. But I really hope he is back soon!”

In surprisingly warm weather, the day was all about tyre management. The fact that Ryder was sharing the car with its creator Sean Gould, added to the pressure of trying to keep the car as cool as possible and the tyres in as good order as possible to capitalise at a hill where Ryder has been strong in recent times.

Having qualified fastest for the first run-off, Ryder ran last and knew that Willis had set a strong mark at 47.90s. But sure enough, Ryder was quick and neat and delivered with a nicely measured run to win the day’s first run-off at 47.51s. After his own run in 48.42s, Gould had predicted that there was around nine tenths for Ryder to find and, sure enough, that's what happened. Gould still took third ahead of Alex Summers and Will Hall who were both trying to manage tyres. Summers was also troubled by a locking front wheel.

One of the stars of the first run off was young Tom Weaver, who somehow qualified his one-litre Empire EVO for the run-off and then claimed an astonishing eighth place with a truly committed performance. The sport has another new star starting to shine. Stuart Bickley joined Weaver in the first round points in his 1070cc Force.

At the end of the afternoon, with the temperature dipping a little, Ryder did it all over again, this time stopping the clocks at 48.14s to edge Willis by just 0.15s. At a hill where he has usually been half a second off the ultimate pace, Summers improved to a 48.70s in the DJ Firestorm to secure third. Gould, Hall and the increasingly strong Jack Cottrill, in his Cosworth-powered Dallara chassis, rounded out the top six ahead of Dave Uren.

“Very tidy, as normal,” joked Willis after a fine day despite giving away power to his key rivals. “I’m absolutely delighted with that.” 

David Warburton was the fastest of the smaller engined cars in their 1600cc Gould GR59 which had been dogged all day by a misfire. A change of coil finally solved the problem before the second class runs and David duly picked up his first points of the season with eighth place in the second run-off..

Paul Haimes twice got into the top 10 in his 1300cc turbo Gould GR59 while Harry Pick showed that is now a run-off contender by taking ninth in the second run-off in his Cosworth Indycar powered OMS 28.

Written by Paul Lawrence and published in partnership with Autosport.


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