A win in the first run-off for British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres leader Wallace Menzies, backed up by a close second in the second run-off, saw him take another step towards becoming a four times BHC Champion. If his current speed and consistency continue, which is looking increasingly likely, Wallace will become a member of a very exclusive club, as he will join Ken Wharton (1951-54) as the winner of four consecutive BHC titles. Wallace now holds a thirty six point lead as we move into a very busy few weeks which will be key in deciding who will be crowned as the 2023 BHC Champion. Despite his big Gould never looking really hooked up all day, Scott Moran still managed to win the second run-off and keep his faint Championship chances alive. He now sits in second place overall in the Championship seven points clear of Matt Ryder. Matt was another to have a challenging day, sixth and eighth place run-off finishes were certainly not he was looking for. After a brace of third place run-off finishes Alex Summers holds fourth place overall ahead of Sean Gould in fifth. Sean also struggled to get the works Gould to handle to his satisfaction. He will be very disappointed with ninth a tenth place run-off finishes and therefore only three Championship points.
The first run-off saw Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M) take the win with what proved to be the only sub thirty seven second run of the day. Despite a big mistake under braking for the final corner which cost a chunk of time, Wallace held the upper hand from start to finish. Second was Trevor Willis (OMS 28 – RPE V8). A beautiful passage of the upper reaches of a hill where he often goes well, secured Trevor his best result of the 2023 season. Just eight one hundredths behind Trevor was Alex Summers (DJ Firestorm). Right on the pace until a slight mistake on the approach and through the final corner maybe cost Alex the overall win. Having overcome clutch related issues in practice Scott Moran (Gould GR59J) recovered to take fourth place overall. Just seven one hundredths of a second behind in a fine fifth place was Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2), ahead of Matt Ryder (Gould GR59J) in sixth. This was not what Matt was looking for and his Championship challenge is starting to stutter a little. Darren Gumbley (Force TA) was having a great day. A fine seventh place finish and his first BHC points since Craigantlet back in April, made all the hard work worthwhile. Just under four tenths back in eighth was a hard trying Will Hall (Gould GR59J). Will’s spectacular tail out style certainly kept the crowd entertained. Sean Gould was having a difficult day in the big Gould and took ninth place. A big sideways moment on the exit of Radio hairpin cost both time and points. Dave Uren, who is sharing Darren Gumbley’s Force TA while his Gould GR55B has its gearbox rebuilt, scored the final point in tenth. Guernsey driver Nick Saunders finished out of the points in eleventh in his self-developed Reynick ahead of fellow Guernseyman Andy Bougourd (Force PT).
The second run-off was won by Scott Moran by just seven one hundredths of a second from the ever consistent Wallace Menzies. Scott built up a small lead of about two tenths of a second through the middle reaches of the hill to the penultimate corner Radio hairpin. Although he lost time to Wallace at the final corner, he still held on to take his fifth run-off win of the season and first since Gurston Down at the end of May. A relief and a platform to push on for what are now vital wins over the next few events at Val des Terres, Wiscombe and Shelsley Walsh. Half a second back in third was Alex Summers. How Alex wished that his early season fuel feed related issues had not reared their ugly head! Enjoying his trip to Jersey and just eight hundredths of a second behind in fourth was Trevor Willis. Another driver having a good day and just one hundredth of a second behind Trevor in fifth was Richard Spedding. Will Hall improved his first run-off time by over half a second to take sixth. His time was in fact only five one hundredths of a second outside his personal best set in his previous car the Force Xtec. This will no doubt encourage Will to push on for the rest of the season. After failing to qualify for the first run-off, Dave Warburton (Gould GR59 Hayabusa) bounced back in fine style to take an excellent seventh place, five one hundredths of a second clear of a disappointed Matt Ryder. Dave’s time was in fact a personal best and some 1.4 seconds faster than his qualifying time. Well done Dave! Darren Gumbley’s good form continued to bring points, this time with ninth, only one hundredth of second slower than Matt. The final point was taken by Sean Gould who, like co-driver Matt Ryder, continued to struggle to set competitive times. Nick Saunders once again finished out of the points in eleventh three tenths of a second clear of fellow Guernsey driver Tim Tulie (Empire Evo). This was in fact Tim’s first BHC run-off qualification away from his home hill at Le Val des Terres.
Bouley Bay winner and current BHC Championship leader Wallace Menzies said “Just like last year conditions were tough out there today. The hill was very tyre and temperature sensitive and consistent grip was therefore difficult to find. If I’m honest my win in the first run-off was a little fortunate as I left my braking way too late for the final corner. The consequent lock up and sideways moment lost me a lot of time. I even had to dip the clutch to stop the car from stalling! Despite my Championship lead the margins are really tight. There is still a long way to go until this Championship is decided. Moving onto Val des Terres on Saturday will be another big challenge. It’s a quirky hill where many drivers use the pavement to set a good time. With the weather possibly being a little damp it will add to the challenge too. I am looking forward to it though!”
The Championship now moves on to the final leg of the Channel Islands double-header at Le Val des Terres in Guernsey’s capital St Peter Port on Saturday 22nd July. The traveling BHC circus of over twenty competitors will be looking forward to take on the locals at one of the Championships quirkier hills, when using the pavement is often the quickest way to set a competitive time!