A topsy turvy rain affected day saw Wallace Menzies creep ever closer to retaining his British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres title. After dropped scores are taken into account there are only a few points between the two Championship protagonists as they head into the final round at Loton Park in Shropshire. It really has been a classic season and despite the best efforts of the weather Prescott did not disappoint. After a great season Scott Moran is now confirmed in third place ahead of Trevor Willis, who is strong favourite to be confirmed in fourth place overall. Matt Ryder unfortunately suffered gearbox failure while warming his tyres on his Sunday morning practice run and as a result withdrew from the meeting. Unless Matt has a fantastic weekend at Loton Park it now looks likely that he will finish the season in fifth place. If you had said to Matt at the start of his first season in big single seaters that he would finish fifth overall in the BHC and that he would end the season as the outright Harewood record holder he would have bitten your hand off though! Definitely a star of the future.
The first run-off saw a few surprises in both qualification and finishing order. The rain came at exactly the wrong moment for the fastest qualifiers who were faced with worsening grip as the rain increased in intensity. This resulted in a ‘surprise’ second run-off win of the season for Dave Uren in his Nicholson McLaren engined Gould GR55B. His time of 37.09 seconds gave him a near three tenths of a second gap over a delighted Paul Haimes in his turbo charged Hayabusa engined Gould GR59. The star of the run-off however was Scotsman Stuart Sugden (GWR Raptor), who finished in a fabulous third place overall. Despite finishing in a personal best fourth place Johnathen Varley (GWR Predator) was a little disappointed. A couple of mistakes saw him finish with a time of 38.32 seconds and not the 37 run he really wanted. Darren Gumbley (Force TA) was another driver to produce a best ever BHC run-off finish. His fifth place will be something that stays in his memory for some time to come. David Warburton (Gould GR59) was just six hundredths of a second behind in sixth. Yet another driver to produce their best ever BHC run-off finish was Jack Cottrill (DJ Dallara Cosworth XD) who finished seventh. So what of the top qualifiers and contenders? The answer is simple that they were unfortunately out on the track when the conditions were at their worst. This resulted in an irrelevant eighth and tenth for Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M) and Alex Summers (DJ Firestorm Cosworth XD) respectively. Scores that were discarded immediately. After a strong qualifying performance Richard Spedding slipped back to finish only ninth. Out of the points were Trevor Willis (OMS 28 – RPE V8) and fastest qualifier Scott Moran, who decided not to take his run in the Gould GR59J
After qualifying took place in changeable track conditions resulting in a ‘different’ look to the qualifying order, the second run-off was won with a super last run of the day by defending Champion Wallace Menzies. Only six one hundredths behind Wallace was Alex Summers. Up on the clock until the final corner at semi-circle, Alex unfortunately lost out on the run to the finish line to finish agonisingly short. This could prove very costly at the end of the season. A storming run finishing with a personal best time of 35.61 seconds was a delighted Trevor Willis. This left him just four one hundredths of a second ahead of Scott Moran. After an event that promised so much ‘Scotty’ will be disappointed to take only a fourth place finish from the weekend. Dave Uren backed up his earlier run-off win with a fifth place finish, albeit nearly two seconds behind Scott. Dave now seems nailed on to finish sixth overall in the 2022 BHC in what has been very much a season of highs and lows for him. Continuing his fine form was Stuart Sugden in sixth. Stuart now finds himself in a brilliant tenth overall in the BHC moving into the final weekend at Loton Park. He will be doing everything that he can to stay there and as a result display the coveted number ten on his car for the 2023 season! The mixed conditions in qualifying resulted in some new and less well known runners in the second run-off. Debbie Summers (DJ Firehawk) finished a best ever seventh over half a second clear of delighted first time qualifier David Tatham (OMS Hornet). Liam Cooper (Force TA) finished a best ever ninth ahead of Harry Pick (OMS 3000M). Not only was this Harry’s first time in a run-off during the 2022 season, but his time of 40.10 was a personal best too. Well done Harry! Although finishing out of the points both Richard Summers (DJ Firehawk) and Nigel Pitt (OMS 3000) were both delighted to make it into a BHC run-off for the first time. With both producing personal best times too, nothing more could have been asked of them. Along with Alex and his wife Debbie, Richard was in fact the third member of the Summers family to make the run-off. Another first for a BHC Championship round?
After a class win in the first timed runs followed by a rain affected fourth in the second timed runs, Alex Coles cannot now be caught in his Formula Ford Van Diemen RF86. Alex can now call himself overall Champion in the BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James. His sixteen class wins during a fantastic season, six of which with new class records showed great consistency to keep himself ahead of the pack. What will the lad from Plymouth be driving in 2023? The battle for second overall continues, Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2) holding a slim two point lead over Johnathen Varley in the GWR Predator going into the final weekend at Loton Park.
Current BHC Championship leader Wallace Menzies said “I came into the weekend with the knowledge that it was only four rounds to go and consequently minimising mistakes was my top priority. The first run-off was difficult but good fun. Sliding the car around from start to finish made me quickly realise that a good point scoring run was just not achievable. I am delighted for many people, not least Stuart Sugden who had a fabulous weekend. It was good to see history made with three of the Summers family in the second run-off too! Second qualifying was very difficult and I was delighted to qualify fastest. When Trevor set his personal best time, I knew that I had no margin for error. The new tyres that we had saved for use on Sunday were really good and enabled me to sneak ahead of Alex. I now know that finishing ahead of Alex is my priority at Loton Park. I am really looking forward to it!”
The Championship now moves onto its final round at Loton Park in Shropshire over the weekend of 24/25 September. The maths in now relatively simple with Wallace Menzies in control. To ensure that he is crowned 2022 BHC Champion he needs to finish ahead of Alex Summers in the final two run-offs of the year and the rest will look after itself. That looks very easy on paper, but with a season of surprises will we see some more twists and turns at the very end? So, make your plans to be at Loton Park for the final BHC event of the season. After last years event when many records were broken its sure to be a fantastic weekend! Advance tickets can be purchased via the following button.