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Scott Moran wins twice at Gurston Down to gain momentum in the BHC Championship battle

Photo by Stephen Lister

A weekend of high drama for Scott Moran ended with two fantastic run-off victories on the Sunday to spark his 2023 Championship challenge into life. A fuel leak was spotted in the Judd engine of the Gould GR59 during the second timed runs on Saturday which ended the day prematurely for both Scott and car owner Graham Wynn. The paddock strip down, fix and rebuild provided great theatre and took over four hours to complete in the farmyard of the Wiltshire venue.

All the effort was well worthwhile as Scott really delivered on the Sunday to give his 2023 Championship challenge real momentum as we move to the next weekend of Championship action at Shelsley Walsh. A win, two seconds and a third kept Wallace Menzies Championship challenge well and truly alive, giving him a thirteen point lead with one third of the Championship now completed. Matt Ryder retained his second place overall despite a weekend where he never seemed to quite get onto the outright pace. Scott sits in third ahead of Alex Summers who won his first run-off of the season and now appears to have the reliability to put his poor start to the season behind him. Sean Gould holds a promising fifth place overall after a good point scoring weekend, the highlight of which was an excellent second place run-off finish on the Saturday.

The first run-off of the weekend saw Scott Moran qualify fastest in his Judd engined Gould GR59. The up and down nature of his 2023 season was however on full show as two self-inflicted gearchange related issues saw him fall back to third place with a time slower than he had set in qualifying – disappointing. Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59-M Cosworth XD) took full advantage of this with a smooth fast run to win with a time of 25.46 seconds. Interestingly this turned out to be the fastest time of the entire weekend. Just twelve hundredths back in second place was Alex Summers in the DJ Firestorm Cosworth XD. Up on the clocks to the exit of the Karousel complex, Alex was delighted to have found some much needed reliability, which allied with his obvious speed will surely see him regularly at the sharp end for the remainder of the season. Just eight hundredths back in fourth was Will Hall in the new for this season Gould GR59-Judd. His early season good form continued as he finished just over two tenths of second clear of Sean Gould. This meant that Sean finished ahead of co-driver Matt Ryder in the ‘works’ Gould GR59-Judd for the first time. Matt would surely come out fighting for the rest of the weekend?! A hard trying Trevor Willis (OMS 28) took seventh. His obvious lack a power holding him back, particularly on the fast run from Ashes to the finish line. Just three hundredths back in eighth was Dave Uren in his Gould GR55B NME who was in turn two tenths of a second clear of Jack Cottrill (Dallara Cosworth XD). This was not only Jack’s first BHC points of the season but in fact was the first time he had qualified for a 2023 BHC run-off. The final point went to Paul Haimes (Gould GR59 Hayabusa Turbo). It has been a difficult start to the 2023 season for Paul with various technical issues holding him back. Is this the start of a change of fortunes? Just out of the points was Dave Warburton who really was wringing the neck of the little 1600cc Gould GR59. Dave showed his massive commitment by holding the throttle wide open through the daunting Hollow bend and still did not score a point! Graham Wynn (Gould GR59-Judd) qualified for a run-off for the first time in 2023. Despite finding a few hundredths of a second from his qualifying time he still finished out of the points in twelfth. Richard Spedding was having a nightmare weekend. Serious electrical issues in his GWR Raptor 2 would actually prevent him from qualifying for any of the weekends run-offs. Your luck will change for the better soon Rich!

With Scott Moran not qualifying due to the fuel leak in the GR59 and Will Hall also not qualifying due to fuel related gremlins, the second run-off of the weekend looked a little different. Taking full advantage and a dominant win was Alex Summers. His 25.67 time was over half a second clear of everyone else and the only 25 second run of the run-off. A ‘surprise’ second was Sean Gould. An excellent run of 26.24, his best of the weekend, gave him a nine hundredths of a second gap to Wallace Menzies in third who continues to dial the car into the Avon Tyres. Four tenths behind in fourth was a slightly ragged Matt Ryder who only just held off a determined Dave Uren in fifth. An absolutely delighted Paul Haimes continued to make his early season woes a distant memory. A sixth place finish against numerous V8’s with a 1300cc Turbocharged Hayabusa really was a massive achievement. Two tenths behind in seventh was Trevor Willis with a fading Jack Cottrill nearly a second back in eighth. Johnathen Varley (GWR Raptor – KKD V8) not only made the run-off but scored an excellent two points for ninth place. The beautiful 2 litre V8 engine was unfortunately a little breathless against the many V8’s competing at Gurston. The final point went to Dave Warburton who again gave his all. Nicola Menzies (Gould GR55B NME) qualified for her second run-off of the season but unfortunately finished outside of the points in eleventh. The unfortunate Graham Wynn non-started and therefore did not score a point.

Photo by Stephen Lister: Winner of Saturday’s second run-off, Alex Summers.

Sunday dawned dry and sunny once again as battle recommenced. Further investigation into Will Hall’s fuel related issue overnight sadly resulted in him withdrawing from the rest of the meeting. Johnathen Varley had a big spin through Hollow during morning practice. The consequent trip into the field caused both nose and floor damage. This unfortunately resulted in the car being withdrawn from the meeting too. A sad end to what promised to be a good meeting for both Will and Johnathen. Alex Summers continued his good form from the previous day qualifying fastest, but things were tight. And tight they proved to be in the run-off too! With his Saturday fuel leak dramas well and truly put behind him fifth fastest qualifier Scott Moran put in a storming run to take top spot with a great time of 25.51 seconds. Taking second nine hundredths of a second back was Wallace Menzies with fastest qualifier Alex Summers a mere two hundredths slower in third. I told you that it was tight! A great run from Dave Uren gave him fourth place with a slightly disappointed Matt Ryder just two hundredths behind in fifth. Spare a thought for Matt’s co-driver Sean Gould who was one hundredth of a second slower in sixth! The unlucky Trevor Willis was just three hundredths behind Sean in seventh. Eighth was a delighted Paul Haimes. His time of 26.79 seconds his first ever in the twenty sixes. Jack Cottrill was showing great consistency to take ninth ahead of Graham Wynn, who took the final point for tenth. This was Graham’s first BHC point of the season. Adam Greenen did well to get the little 1600cc Empire Evo3 into the run-off. Sadly he finished out of the points in eleventh. Dave Warburton had a harmless spin exiting Karousel and therefore failed to score.

The final run-off of the weekend was then upon us. Dave Warburton did not qualify this time due to a suspected broken gearbox input shaft. It will take a big effort to get the car ready for Shelsley Walsh next weekend. If you thought the previous run-off was close, this one would redefine the meaning of close! Scott Moran qualified fastest for the second time during the weekend. This proved vital, as running last he knew exactly what he needed to do. Another super smooth but fast run resulted in a time of 25.55 seconds and victory – but only just! Four hundredths of a second slower was the super consistent Wallace Menzies. Wallace has in fact finished in the top three in all run-offs in the 2023 season to date. Now that’s impressive! A mere three hundredths behind Wallace was Alex Summers. Seven hundredths of second covering the first three finishers – wow! British Hillclimbing at its very best. Matt Ryder was finding time and broke into the 25 second bracket for the first time. His 25.87 second run giving him a strong fourth place. Sean Gould was just under half a second back in fifth. It was an encouraging weekend for the man from Newbury and Sean is now showing his best form for the past two seasons. Can he take a step further and start to challenge for victories too? We will see! Dave Uren finished the weekend strongly in sixth with a quarter of second in hand over a breathless Trevor Willis. Paul Haimes once again got into the twenty sixes to finish eighth a tenth of a second ahead of Jack Cottrill who took ninth on what was his best BHC weekend so far in the 2023 season. Graham Wynn took another point for tenth ahead of the second Greenen brother Andy. Despite qualifying Andy’s brother Adam chose not to take his run and was therefore classified a non-scoring twelfth.

The top positions were shaken up in the class based BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James. Duncan Barnes was undefeated over the weekend in his beautiful Norma M20FC. His thirty six point haul now give him a three point lead. In second is Allan McDonald in his Force SR4. Two Saturday defeats to Peter Steel in his potent Radical SR1 did however put a little dent in his Championship challenge. David Tatham continues his great form in the DJ Firehawk in the massive up to 1100cc single seater class. After second and third place finishes on Saturday, two wins on Sunday put him firmly in the mix. Sarah Bosworth also had a great weekend in the Van Diemen RF85 Formula Ford and sits in fourth place overall. Watch out for Jonathan Langmead in the Lotus Elise though. Four class wins, all with new records over the Gurston weekend, ensured a perfect forty point haul of points. If he carries on this form, he will be challenging the top three very soon.

Photo by @southwestpix

The last words must go to double Gurston winner Scott Moran who said “ Gurston was certainly a manic weekend. The fuel leak on Saturday put us firmly on the back foot. A mammoth team effort overnight thankfully fixed the issue and allowed me to pay them back on Sunday. To have missed Sunday with two no scores would have been an absolute disaster and would have really damaged my BHC Championship chances. The Championship is however still wide open as we move to Shelsley Walsh. The Gould is well suited to the hill but unfortunately the same could be said for many others! I’m looking forward to it”.

The Championship now moves straight onto the iconic Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire this weekend 3rd & 4th June. Who will take the honours this time around in what is shaping up to be another classic BHC season?


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