Defending British Hillclimb (BHC) Champion Wallace Menzies won the first run-off stretching his lead to twenty eight points in the BHC presented by Avon Tyres, as we enter the second half of what is another enthralling season of top class British Hillclimbing. Matt Ryder had a strong Harewood weekend, securing his first run-off win of the season to overtake Scott Moran and now sits in second place overall, just two points ahead of Scott. Scott had a relatively low-key weekend with third and fourth place run-off finishes. Both Scott and Matt now need to score big points as the BHC heads for its annual trip to the Channel Islands in a few weeks-time. Alex Summers was another top contender to find track conditions a little challenging. His fourth and fifth place run-off finishes not where Alex wanted or perhaps expected to be, particularly after his fine win at Doune last time out. Sean Gould continued his solid points scoring run. Fifth and third place run-off finishes consolidated Sean’s fifth place overall in the BHC.
After qualifying only third, Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M) put it all together to take another fine run-off win by just over two tenths of a second. Fast from the very start, a particularly impressive 121 mph approach to the final corner at Quarry set the foundations for his victory. Matt Ryder (Gould GR59J) like Wallace also improved his qualifying time by half a second to secure second place from a fading Scott Moran (Gould GR59J). Scott had a poor start, losing nearly half a second to both Wallace and Matt, giving him little chance of taking victory. Alex Summers (DJ Firestorm) appeared to struggle for grip, losing time against the top three throughout the run, leaving him over half a second behind Scott in fourth place. Sean Gould (Gould GR59J) struggled a little in qualifying but found over a second in the run-off to take fifth place by just over two tenths a second from Trevor Willis (OMS 28 – RPE V8). This was Trevor’s first event without drama since suffering engine problems at Shelsley Walsh at the beginning of June. Trevor will no doubt be a little relieved to be scoring decent BHC points once again. Will Hall (Gould GR59J) was another to find time in the run-off, finishing just three one hundredths of a second behind Trevor in seventh. Will was probably a little disappointed to only score four points. Despite producing a time slower than qualifying Richard Spedding still won the battle of the smaller engined cars, finishing a fine eighth in his 1600cc Hayabusa engined GWR Raptor 2. Richard held off Paul Haimes (Gould GR59 Hayabusa Turbo) by just a tenth of a second. A mere two hundredths of a second behind Paul, scoring the final point, was Dave Warburton (Gould GR59 Hayabusa), who faded a little after qualifying an excellent eighth. Out of the points was Jason Tunnicliffe in his new for 2023 1300cc turbocharged Empire Wraith. After a season where he has suffered a number of technical issues, this was the first time that Jason had qualified his new car for a BHC run-off and will give him great encouragement for the season ahead. Just a tenth of a second behind Jason was Andy Greenen in the little 1600cc Empire EVO 3. This was the third time that Andy had qualified for a BHC run-off in the 2023 season - but he is yet to score a point! Keep the faith Andy as your luck is sure to change for the better very soon.
The second run-off saw a first victory of the 2023 season for Matt Ryder. After seven second place run-off finishes in the season to date, this was definitely long overdue. With the monkey now off his back can Matt kick-on and mount a serious challenge to Wallace Menzies? The ‘overseas’ rounds in Jersey and Guernsey are next up and are likely to give us the answer to this question. After losing time in the bottom sections of the hill, Wallace Menzies took the runner up spot, just under a quarter of a second in arrears. It was a real scrap between four drivers for third place. Despite fading a little from qualifying, Sean Gould was still delighted to finish on the podium. He was however only three hundredths of a second clear of Scott Moran who in turn was an incredible one hundredth of a second ahead of Alex Summers in fifth. Demonstrating the fine margins that are so often seen in the BHC, Trevor Willis found himself in sixth - you’ve guessed it by just one hundredth of a second. A minuscule five hundredths of a second covering the third to sixth place BHC finishers – incredible! Trying hard but a ‘massive’ half a second back in seventh was Will Hall ahead of a delighted Jack Cottrill (Dallara Cosworth XD). Jack really found massive time to come through strongly on the second timed runs. He will be delighted with his personal best time of 49.80 seconds set in the run=off too. Just under a quarter of a second behind Jack was Dave Warburton, who this time won the battle of the smaller engined cars and also turned the tables on a fading Paul Haimes, who took the final point for tenth. Richard Spedding finished out of the points in eleventh, just ahead of Eynon Price (Force TA) in twelfth. Eynon should take some encouragement though, as this was the first time that he has qualified for a BHC run-off since the very first round of the season at Prescott. Keep pushing Eynon!
In the classes two wins for Duncan Barnes (Norma M20FC) consolidated his five point lead in the BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James. Allan McDonald (Force SR4) got back to winning ways after his setback at Doune and lies in second. In the ultra-competitive up to 1100cc Racing Car Class David Tatham (DJ Firehawk) had his Championship challenge dented a little by being beaten into second place twice by a hard charging Stuart Bickley (Force TA). David now sits six points behind Allan in third place overall. The Cup now takes a three week break before battle recommences at Wiscombe Park in Devon over the weekend of 29th & 30th July.
Harewood was the inaugural round of the new for 2023 BHC Tin Top – Top Ten Challenge. A strong entry of the fastest tin-tops in the UK descended on Harewood to take to the hill. A fabulous battle took place between Damien Bradley and Steven Darley in their shared 800+ horsepower Subaru Legacy. Car owner Damien managed to win the first run-off by nearly half a second from Steven. Damien’s unbelievable time of 56.30 seconds being nearly a second under Steven’s Harewood Tin-Top record set last year. It should also be remembered that Steven’s record time was set on a much warmer day too. What an incredible car the Legacy is!! Steven did however manage to turn the tables in the second run-off when Damien lost time off the start-line and in the lower reaches of the hill. Steven did not need a second invitation and took full advantage to take a well-deserved run-off win, again with time well under his previous record. This gives us the intriguing situation of joint leaders going into the second round of the series which takes place at Shelsley Walsh over the weekend of 12th & 13th August.
In third place overall after a brace of third place run-off finishes is Simon Bainbridge in his enormously powerful Audi engined SBR Chrono. This was despite suffering tyre related issues for the majority of the weekend. Steven Moore holds fourth place overall in his Mitsubishi Evo 6 from 1997 BHC Champion Roger Moran who sits in fifth. Roger’s Skoda Fabia R5 Rally Car proves that tarmac rally cars can be on the pace.
The last words go to the winner of his first BHC run-off of the 2023 season Matt Ryder who said “ I always tend to go well at Harewood. I really enjoy the mixture of fast sweeps and slower technical elements of the hill and the challenge of setting a quick time. I was actually a little disappointed not to win the first run-off. Wallace was just a little too fast for me that time! The low grip conditions were a real challenge for all of us. Even though I won the final run-off my time was nearly 1.5 seconds slower than my hill record set this time last year! The track conditions were also impacted by a strong and cooling wind which particularly affected the car on the fast approach to the last corner, Quarry. Despite it being only my second ever visit to the Channel Islands I am really looking forward to the next BHC rounds in Jersey and Guernsey. Rest assured I will be trying hard to push for victories!”
The BHC now has a two week break before returning with a bang with a Channel Islands ‘double-header’. The events take place at the beautiful Bouley Bay, Jersey on Wednesday 19th July and the picturesque Val des Terres, Guernsey on Saturday 22nd July. Will Matt Ryder be able create the momentum required to mount a serious challenge to Wallace Menzies, or can Scott Moran come to the party? With only half of the season being completed it’s still all to play for. Watch out for reports and updates following the events.