Scott Moran and Alex Summers left Prescott as joint leaders after the opening event of the 2022 British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres. A stunning debut in the ‘works’ Gould GR59J by Matt Ryder, for which he was deservedly presented with the ‘man of the meeting’ award, was another highlight, on a day that truly showcased all that is good about the BHC in what could turn out to be a stelar season ahead.
On a cool but thankfully dry weekend, Prescott served up an absolute classic, with the battle in the top twelve run-offs proving to be highlight of a great weekend’s motorsport.
The first run-off of the season produced what is probably the tightest battle in living memory, with the top five drivers separated by an unbelievable one tenth of a second! Top of the pile, his Avon tyres working beautifully, was Scott Moran with a time of 35.99 seconds. Two hundredths of a second behind was Alex Summers in his re-liveried DJ Firestorm. A fantastic third equal on his debut in the big Gould was Matt Ryder, level to the hundredth of a second with former triple BHC Champion Trevor Willis. Trevor will be encouraged with this, after what for him was a relatively low key 2021 season. Reigning BHC Champion Wallace Menzies was probably disappointed to finish in ‘only’ fifth place. Being one tenth of a second behind the winning time would have given some encouragement that he wasn’t far from the pace though. The rest of the point scoring finishers included an eighth place finish for Will Hall, who is sharing the “works” Gould with Matt Ryder for the 2022 season. It was also good to see Richard Spedding having a reliable weekend in the GWR Raptor 2, now fitted with a normally aspirated Suzuki based Mistral engine. The two unlucky drivers missing out on points were Zac Zammit and Ben Stephenson.
The second run-off saw Ben Stephenson missing out on qualification, being replaced by Graham Wynn, owner of the Gould GR59J that he shares with Scott Moran. Other than that, the qualifiers were the same as round one. The battle at the top was not as close but the times set were faster. Alex Summers was the winner this time around with a great time of 35.43 seconds. This time is less than three quarters of a second away from the outright record of 34.65 seconds set by Wallace Menzies in September 2021. Not bad on a cool day in April! Second this time, some two tenths of a second behind was Scott Moran, after running a little “hot” into the tricky Pardon hairpin and losing time. Top qualifier Wallace Menzies faded a little but still ended up third some half a second behind Scott. Rounding off a promising weekend a further two tenths back in fourth was Trevor Willis in his OMS 28 followed by Matt Ryder who headed a tight battle for fifth, with Dave Uren, Will Hall, Richard Spedding and Paul Haimes all snapping at his heels. Just missing out on points were Graham Wynn, despite a personal best, and the unlucky Zac Zammit in his Empire Wraith, who qualified for both run-offs but scored in neither.
So, after Prescott its Scott Moran and Alex Summers who lead the way in the BHC tied on nineteen points, followed by Trevor Willis in third on fifteen and Wallace Menzies and Matt Ryder tied in fourth on fourteen points.
Highlight of the action in the class based BHC Cup, presented by Footman James, was a superb performance from the ultra-quick Steve Darley, who was sharing Damien Bradley’s monstrous Avon tyre shod Subaru Legacy. Not only did he manage to beat car owner Damien on both runs but he took a whopping 1.47 seconds off Stephen Moore’s existing class record. Damien also managed to smash the class record but ended up nearly four tenths of a second behind in second place. Another class record breaking performance came from Robert Marwood in his Renault Clio 172. A very promising start to the season for Robert.
This left Steve Darley and Robert Marwood in equal first place overall in the BHC Cup on nineteen points, followed by a squabbling pack of eight drivers one point back in equal third! It should be quite a season.
So last words to Scott Moran who said “ The Avons worked really well this weekend. It looks like all of the tyre development that we did during 2021 is starting to pay dividends. This and the tweaks we have made to the Gould over the Winter have resulted in a weekend that, if I am honest, exceeded my expectations”.
The Championship moves onto Craigantlet in Northern Ireland this weekend with the event taking place on Saturday 30th April. Who will come out on top on the super-fast public road on the outskirts of Belfast? Seeing what happened at Prescott there are a number of serious contenders. Watch this space!