Defending British Hillclimb (BHC) Champion Wallace Menzies broke the outright hill record four times as he ended the weekend leading the BHC presented by Avon Tyres for the first time in the 2022 season. The top four in each run-off were all under the existing outright hill record, making it a special weekend at the Yorkshire venue. On a dry track which got warmer as the day went on, the run-offs showcased once again the fine margins that are making the 2022 season super exciting. The top four consisted of Menzies, Alex Summers, Scott Moran and super impressive newcomer to the big single seater class Matt Ryder. Menzies now tops the Championship table with a two point lead over the inseparable Summers and Moran in equal second. Matt Ryder is in fourth place a couple of points ahead of the consistent Trevor Willis in fifth.
The first run-off of the afternoon saw the outright record broken on three separate occasions. After Wallace Menzies had taken a quarter of a second off the record on his first timed run the action really got hot when the final four drivers came to the line. First to break the record was a silky smooth run from fourth fastest qualifier Matt Ryder. His time of 47.39 taking another fourteen one hundredths of a second off Wallace’s new record. It is hard to believe that this is only Matt’s third BHC event in the ‘works’ Gould GR59J. He already looks like a star of the future. Next to run was Alex Summers who could not quite match Matt Ryder’s new record. He must have been disappointed to finish three tenths behind in ‘only’ fourth place. After starring in practice with times under the existing record this must have been difficult to take. Another sub record run and the extra point that goes with it will have sweetened the pill a little though. Next up was Scott Moran in the Gould GR59 Judd. The fact that Scott was really ‘on it’ being demonstrated by the eye watering 138mph approach speed to the tricky final corner Quarry. He was rewarded with a stunning 47.05 – another new record! Scott must have thought that the win was his. That is until final runner Wallace Menzies left the line and put together a stunning run to stop the clock in his Cosworth XD engined Gould GR59-M, with a new record time of forty seven seconds exactly. This really was British Hillclimbing at its very best! The rest, many producing personal bests, were headed by Trevor Willis in his V8 Powertec engined OMS 28 just over a second back in fifth. Three tenths further back was Will Hall (Gould GR59J) who had just seven hundredths of a second in hand on Richard Spedding in the little GWR Raptor 2. Eighth was Dave Uren in the Nicholson McLaren engined Gould GR55B with David Warburton (Gould GR59) just over a quarter of a second behind in ninth. The final point for tenth went to Eynon Price, who now has a new and larger motorcycle engine in the back of his Force TA. Out of the points by just over one tenth of a second was Lee Griffiths (OMS28). Fading to twelfth after a super run to qualify was Allan Warburton in the Gould GR59 that he shares with his son David.
The second run-off produced another new outright record and victory for Wallace, this time by just under three tenths of a second on the very last run of the day, taking the record into the 46 second bracket with a time of 46.86 seconds. Second was a very determined Alex Summers with his best run of the weekend of 47.15 seconds. Alex was just four hundredths of a second clear of Matt Ryder who took another two tenths of a second off his personal best and broke the existing outright record once again. Quite a weekend for the twenty six year old who couldn’t quite work out where the fantastic times were coming from himself! Scott Moran faded a little finishing fourth with a time of 47.46 seconds, probably a little disappointed to be nearly four tenths slower than his first run-off time. The hot pace of the top four again saw all of them netting an extra point for being under the outright record time at the start of the day. Trevor Willis will find it hard to believe that despite his time in the second run-off being only a couple of tenths outside of the previous outright record, he ‘only’ netted fifth place – unbelievable! Richard Spedding got under 49 seconds. His 48.98 seconds time being his best of the weekend. Although nearly a second slower than he was in the first run-off David Warburton will be pleased to pick up three points for eighth. An excellent ninth was Jack Cottrill on his first 2022 run-off appearance. Jack was chipping away at his times all day in his Cosworth XD engined DJ Dallara. His final run of 50.63 seconds bodes well for the rest of the season and his hopes of a top ten number. Lee Griffiths managed to bag the final point, nearly a second ahead of Darren Gumbley in his motorcycle engined Force TA and a fading Eynon Price. Failing to qualify after a harmless half spin at Orchard was Will Hall. It has been a character building season so far for the man from the ‘Black Country’!
Although not qualifying for the run-offs Nicola Menzies had a fantastic weekend driving the Gould GR55B that she shares with Dave Uren. A series of super quick times culminated with new ladies records being set on both of her timed runs. Nicola ended up taking exactly a second off her existing record leaving it at a very impressive 52.03 seconds. Well done Nicola!
In the classes it was another record breaking day for the amazing Avon shod Subaru of Damien Bradley and Steve Darley. Both drivers were over a second under the existing record with Steve coming out on top by over four tenths of second with a stunning time of 57.30 seconds. Sadly their day was spoilt by a loose connection to the fuel pump controller which effected both of their second times runs. Steve did in fact produce a time of 56.82 seconds the previous day. Watch the run and just how happy it made Steve feel! Motorsport UK Chairperson, Dave Richards, who dropped in to see the fun by helicopter, he was interested in the Subaru too as you can see in the picture below.
Other class records fell during the day to pre-event BHC Cup leader after Prescott, Robert Marwood in his Renault Clio 172. David Leach did however beat Robert in his little Lotus Elise on the second timed runs, both running faster than the existing class record. This left the door open for Lee Griffiths to take the overall lead of the BHC Cup presented by classic car insurance broker Footman James, with two excellent class record breaking timed runs in his 1660cc engined OMS 28. A great result for Lee in what is a very competitive class.
The last words must go to double winner and now 2022 BHC Championship leader Wallace Menzies who said “ A cracking weekend with the outright records falling so many times to different drivers. Matt Ryder is making driving a big single-seater looks much too easy as well! Many thanks to my team for all their hard work over the past few months which has given me such a great car to drive. It's an important weekend for all of us at Gurston Down in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to it!”.
The Championship now has a two week break before returning with a bang with the first ‘double-header’ weekend of the season at Gurston Down in Wiltshire, over the weekend of 28th & 29th May. Will Wallace Menzies continue his charge or will Alex Summers, Scott Moran or perhaps Matt Ryder have something to say? Get yourself to Gurston and see it all live. Tickets are available via the following link: ticketsource.co.uk/gurston-down-speed-hill-climb