A brace of run-off wins at the final round of the British Hillclimb Championship (BHC), presented by Avon Tyres, by Wallace Menzies saw him secure the 2022 Championship crown in dramatic fashion on a dry but on occasion cool day at Loton Park. An unfortunate spin at the final corner in the first run-off by challenger Alex Summers denied us the theatre of seeing the Championship being decided during the final run-off of the season! Maybe next year! Wallace now joins the BHC ‘greats’ who have secured a hattrick of Championships. Wallace is now part of an exclusive club joining Martin Groves (2005-2007), David Grace (1998-2000), Martin Bolsover (1982-1984), Tony Marsh (1955-1957 & 1965-1967), David Boshier-Jones (1958-1960) and Ken Wharton (4 consecutive BHC Championships 1951-1954), as three or four time consecutive title winners. The 2022 season has been an absolute classic serving up high drama, numerous new hill records as well as the emergence of new talent. The BHC is in good health with more new cars due to hit the track in 2023.
The first run-off saw massive drama as second fastest qualifier Alex Summers (DJ Firestorm Cosworth XD) took to the track for what was an absolutely vital run in determining who would be crowned as 2022 BHC Champion. A stunning run in the early reaches of the hill saw Alex well up on the clock, not only on all previous runners, but what was looking like a possible record breaking run too. Carrying massive speed up through the fast sweeps of Cedar ‘Straight’ Alex got the braking just right for the tricky Fallow Corner. He then powered up to the final corner Museum looking like he had the win in his grasp. Museum is a difficult corner to get right though, a snap of oversteer and Alex’s DJ Firestorm was on the grass, ending in a gentle tap of the tyre barrier with the left rear corner. Alex was gutted, the run was over and maybe the Championship too. After a delay to clear the track Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M) came to the line, composing himself as he still had a job to do. A smooth and mistake free run saw Wallace take the win by nearly half a second from Scott Moran in the Gould GR59J. The 2022 BHC Champion was crowned. In third place in the run-off, confirming fourth overall in the 2022 Championship, was Trevor Willis driving his OMS 28 – RPE V8. A great result for Trevor with his task being made easier as his closest Championship challenger Matthew Ryder (Gould GR59J) had understeered off at the first corner in qualifying! Dave Uren (Gould GR55B - Nicholson McLaren) was a further half a second behind Trevor in fourth. An excellent fifth was David Warburton (Gould GR59). His time of 44.47 seconds being some three tenths of a second inside Jos Goodyear’s ten year old Racing Car up to 1600cc class record. A fabulous end to the season for David. Just two tenths of a second behind David in sixth place was Paul Haimes in his turbo charged Hayabusa engined Gould GR59. Another driver having a great day was Jonathen Varley (GWR Predator). His time of 45.01 seconds for seventh place being a second and a half inside his own Racing Car up to 2000cc class record – unbelievable! Sean Gould (Gould GR59J) finished eighth over a second clear of Eynon Price in ninth. Two points for Eynon is a rare highlight in what has been a very character building season for him. Let’s hope that 2023 is more to his liking! The final point for tenth was secured by a delighted Olivia Cooper in the 1600cc engined Force TA. This was a very impressive performance by Olivia, the foundations being the impressive speed she carried up Cedar Straight. Out of the points were Nicola Menzies who faded a little from qualifying and of course spinner Alex Summers.
The final run-off of the season was then upon us. A cooling track would increase the challenge for the drivers. Fastest qualifier Wallace Menzies looked imperious again, until the final two corners that is! A wheel off exiting Fallow made for dirty tyres into Museum. A considerable amount of opposite lock later and Wallace was across the line to what he described as a “very lucky win” with a time of 42.41 seconds, just five one hundredths of a second clear of 2022 Championship sparring partner Alex Summers! Scott Moran was his usual consistent self, a third of a second behind in third and fourth tenths clear of the recovering Matthew Ryder. A good haul of points was an encouraging way to end what has proven to be a fantastic debut season at the sharp end of British Hillclimbing for the lad from Lancashire. Trevor Willis was a half a second back in fifth and half a second clear of Dave Uren in sixth. Paul Haimes ended his season with a seventh place finish just ahead of Sean Gould who once again finished eighth. In ninth place was David Warburton just seventeen hundredths of second clear of Jonathen Varley in tenth. Out of the points were a slightly disappointed Eynon Price and Graham Wynn (Gould GR59J).
In the class based BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James, 2022 Champion Alex Coles produced two more class wins to add to his already impressive tally. This enabled him to finish two points clear of Johnathen Varley in the GWR Predator, who took two class records for a maximum twenty point haul from the weekend. After braking issues cut short his weekend, Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2) still managed to secure third place overall. An impressive ninety six different drivers managed to score BHC Cup points during the 2022 season. Will we see the magic one hundred barrier being broken in 2023? With 2023 being a year in which you can qualify to represent your country in the FIA European Masters by scoring good class based points, I wouldn’t bet against it!
So the 2022 BHC season finishes with Menzies as Champion and Summers as runner up to him for the third season in succession. Rest assured these two will resume battle in 2023 with Alex absolutely determined to turn the tables on Wallace. Scott Moran finished an excellent third ahead of Trevor Willis in fourth. Trevor was out at Harewood the previous week driving Alex Summers’ DJ Firestorm – interesting! Matt Ryder finished an excellent first season in big single seaters in fifth. Surely a top three finish or better will be the goal for Matt in 2023? Matt certainly appears to have the talent to challenge the established front runners. Dave Uren finished an up and down season in sixth. Will he get to a set up that enables his Avon Tyres to work to his liking in 2023? Richard Spedding finished as the first smaller engined car in seventh. His switch away from a turbocharged engine seems to have brought rewards. Will we see him kick on further in 2023? Paul Haimes secured eighth place after, what at times. was a frustrating season due to minor niggles. David Warburton finished ninth once again. More power is probably an absolute necessity to kick on further in 2023. The final ‘number’ was secured by Stuart Sugden (GWR Raptor). He will be absolutely delighted to display number ten on his car in 2023! With Will Hall set to debut his new Judd engined Gould GR59 and Sean Gould likely to do more events in 2023 the battle at the top is sure to be even more intense. Jerseyman Jason Mourant could be back out too in his Judd engined Gould GR55 and Graham Wynn is sure to be trying to secure that elusive top ten number. The signs look very good already. Roll on 2023!
The final words must go to 2022 BHC Champion Wallace Menzies who said “To secure a hattrick of BHC Championships is beyond my wildest dreams. My team of Tom, Duncan and Russ have been absolutely key to the success that we have achieved over the past few years. The car has been absolutely bullet proof, which is down to them and their attention to detail. After the first round at Prescott I was firmly on the back foot. With Alex starting the season so well and Scott and Matt being in the picture too, it took until after the Channel islands rounds for me to open up a small gap at the top. Even then I could not blink at any stage. If I did Alex would have taken full advantage of it. Alex and the DJ team have developed a formidable package during the season and I send my congratulations to them for a fantastic 2022 season. 2023 already looks like it could turn out to be a classic. I’m looking forward to it! ”