Two run-off wins, the first breaking the existing outright hill record, saw Wallace Menzies tighten his vice like grip on the 2023 British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres. A stunning first run-off was capped when Wallace not only took the win but dipped under Alex Summers’ year old outright hill record. This was the first outright record of the BHC season as well. Wallace now holds a thirty five point lead as we enter the final third of the season. It will take something very special from the chasing pack if any of them are to prevent Wallace from becoming the second person in history to secure four successive BHC titles. After a brace of second place finishes Scott Moran now holds a clear second place overall, twenty two points ahead of Matt Ryder in third. Some set-up issues along with Matt’s comparative lack of experience on the Channel Islands hills worked against him, as he struggled to get on the outright pace. Ninth and tenth place finishes were a disaster in Matt’s efforts to keep in touch with the leading two in the Championship. 2022 outright Val des Terres record holder Alex Summers had a relatively low key day. Fifth and sixth place run-off finishes did however help him close the gap to Matt and leave him in a clear fourth place in the Championship. A strong trip to the Channel Islands enabled Will Hall to overtake Sean Gould for fifth place in the Championship. Will took third and fourth place run-off finishes at Val des Terres, as his season continues to gather momentum.
The first run-off saw Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M) crank up the pace as he pushes to secure another BHC crown. And what a run it was too. A stunning 1.78 seconds over the first sixty four feet set Wallace on his way. The Gould was working perfectly as he set the pace from start to finish to break Alex Summers’ record by nearly a tenth of second. The extra point for breaking the record was very welcome too. His time of 26.47 seconds was seven one hundredths of second inside Alex’s existing record and an impressive half a second plus clear of the rest of the field. There was a sting in the tail however, as Wallace carried a little too much speed into the final corner and hit the bank as he crossed the finish line. This removed the left rear tyre from the wheel rim and ensured that crew chief Tom New would have a very busy time repairing the damage to the left rear corner before the second timed runs. Scott Moran (Gould GR59J) took a strong second place, nearly half a second clear of an on form Will Hall. Like Wallace, both Scott and Will had last corner dramas too. Scott crossed the line broadside sideways and Will even managed a neat 180 degree spin after he had crossed the line! Proof if we needed it that they were all trying very hard, Just two one hundredths of second behind Will, in an excellent fourth place, was local Guernsey driver Nick Saunders (Reynick). Nick’s self-prepared single seater was working well as he got within a few hundredths of a second of his personal best time. One driver setting his personal best for the hill was Dave Warburton (Gould GR59 Hayabusa). His time a 27.60 seconds being fast enough to beat a slightly subdued Alex Summers (DJ Firestorm) who finished in sixth place. Local driver Tim Tulie (Empire Evo) was on good form too. Another driver to set a personal best, his 28.06 second run secured seventh place, equalling his best ever position in a BHC run-off. After qualifying eleventh Paul Haimes (Gould GR59 Hayabusa Turbo) pushed hard and also set a personal best time for the hill of 28.30 seconds, to finish eighth equal alongside Trevor Willis (OMS 28 – RPE). Trevor was unfortunately feeling a little under the weather and was consequently struggling a little to show his true speed. Despite being another driver setting personal best times Matt Ryder (Gould GR59J) was off the outright pace and took tenth place, three tenths of second clear of co-driver Sean Gould who finished out the points in eleventh. Darren Gumbley (Force TA) was delighted to qualify for the run-off but unfortunately finished out of the points in twelfth. And what of regular BHC points scorer Richard Spedding? Unfortunately his car suffered engine related issues during practice. Even the generous offer of a co-drive in Nick Saunders Reynick failed to produce a time fast enough for qualification. Thank you Nick, and here’s hoping that we see Richard back out in the little Raptor very soon.
The second run-off was won by Wallace Menzies once again. All very simple you may think – think again! Following his finish line dramas in the first run-off, Wallace’s team only just managed to get the Gould repaired and ready in time for the second timed runs. It just shows the trust Wallace has in his team though, as he left the start line on “full send” and rewarded them by qualifying fastest. That’s class for you! Scott Moran found pace also, dipping into the 26 second bracket. His time of 26.97 just three one hundredths of a second behind Wallace. The rest were left a little breathless, but the battle for third place was very tight indeed, with three drivers separated by less than a tenth of a second. Nick Saunders used all of his local knowledge to come out on top in this battle. His third place finish equalling his best BHC run-off placings, which he achieved back in 2017. Seven one hundredths of a second behind Nick was Will Hall, who continued his high scoring Channel Islands visit. Just two one hundredths behind Will was Alex Summers with a time of 27.76 seconds. Dave Warburton was a quarter of a second back in sixth, just over a tenth of a second clear of Tim Tulie. Paul Haimes scored good points again with eighth, just ahead of a frustrated Matt Ryder in ninth. Matt’s co-driver Sean Gould was three tenths of a second behind Matt, but still managed to secure the final BHC point for tenth place. Trevor Willis faded to finish six one hundredths of a second back in eleventh which once again left Darren Gumbley in twelfth. The pace was so hot that even a personal best time of 29.04 seconds by Darren was not good enough to score him a point. Maybe there will be some points at Wiscombe next weekend Darren?
New Val des Terres outright record holder and current BHC Championship leader Wallace Menzies said “I am delighted to come away from Guernsey as the new outright record holder. I must admit that I could have done without my car damaging first run-off dramas at the last corner though! Thank you to Tom New, Russ, Duncan and the rest of the team who all mucked in and worked so hard to fix the damage. Val des Terres is tricky and needs a completely different car set-up and driving style to the Bouley Bay event a few days before. It is very dependent on a well-prepared tyre too. All in all we did a pretty good job. It is now critical that we maximise our performance next weekend at Wiscombe. It’s going to be a challenge as I’m sure that Scotty, Matt, Alex and a few others will be hard on it. I am really looking forward to the challenge though!”.
The Championship now moves onto Wiscombe Park in Devon over the weekend of 29th & 30th July. It’s a spectacular hill and drivers are certain to be giving their all at the picturesque and technical Devon venue. If you can make it, get yourself down to Wiscombe near Honiton. It will be well worth the trip! Advance tickets can be purchased below.