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Summers stars at Shelsley

Photo by Ben Lawrence

A dramatic day of hillclimbing played out under the Shelsley Walsh sunshine on Sunday and through it all Alex Summers kept a cool head to drive a perfect weekend and claim two more British Hillclimb Championship victories.


However, the other big talking point was a high speed accident that befell former championship leader Matthew Ryder in his Gould GR59. Like several others, he fell foul of a hill that offered low levels of grip after the record wet winter.


Summers was mighty with the DJ Firestorm now back to its best. After earlier delays, it was fast approaching 1900hrs when he fired the car up the side of the Teme Valley in 23.33s to make it four run-off wins in the last five.


Having run within 13 hundredths of a second of Summers’ 22.78s in the first run-off, Ryder set out on his second class run in a bid to qualify well for the day's second run off.


However, the Gould ran fractionally wide on the exit of Crossing and touched the barriers, enough to cause a rear puncture. Still going at a prodigious speed, the Gould then skittled up the barriers all the way to the Esses, where it's sideswiped the Recticel barriers. To everyone's great relief, Ryder stepped out shaken but unharmed but he would play no role in the day's second run-off.


Instead, it was Will Hall who moved up to take the fight to Summers, having run third in the opener. Hall was four-tenths away from Summers in the second to wrap up a strong weekend in his Gould GR59.


Dave Uren and Trevor Willis both drove mighty weekends to overcome equipment not on a par with the very best, with Uren taking a brace of fourth places and Willis topping a fine day with a storming third at the end of the afternoon, just 100th of a second shy of Hall’s second place 23.75s climb.


Jack Cottrill turned in his best ever BHC performance to bag fifth place at the end of the afternoon in his Cosworth engined DJ Dallara. Significantly, he pipped Wallace Menzies by seven hundredths of a second as the reigning champion battled to get his Gould GR59 back to where he wanted it to be.


However, this was Summer's day on a summer day: “It's been an emotional roller coaster,” admitted Alex. “But I'm so pleased to have the car back where it should be.” Having his 90-year old grandfather Bill on hand to see him win made it extra special for Bill Summers was also a winner at Shelsley in his younger days.


Whilst savouring his double win, Summers was quick to acknowledge the widespread relief that Ryder was unharmed. “He's a top guy and it's a long season. He'll come back fighting,” said Alex.


Cottrill was one of the other stars of the day, having overcome a steering issue that kept him out of the first run-off. “We sorted it out for the second run-off and I'm very happy with that,” said Cottrill.


Two sixth places was hardly what Menzies might have expected before the season started but the Scot was pleased with the progress they made with car setup across the weekend following his Craigantlet accident. “I underperformed in the last run off and the time doesn't reflect where we're at,” he admitted. “We're now in a lot better place with the car.”


Written by Paul Lawrence and published in partnership with Autosport


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