An already intense BHC Championship battle was turned up another couple of notches as the outright record came under fire at Wiscombe Park in rural Devon over the weekend of 30th & 31st July. Alex Summers was the first to reset the record books and secure that vital extra point in the first run-off on Saturday afternoon. He was the first person in history to set a time of under thirty three seconds on the sixtieth anniversary of the first BHC visit to the beautiful Devon parkland venue. On Sunday, a brilliant second run-off was headlined by Scott Moran also going sub thirty three but being pipped for the win by a fabulous run from Wallace Menzies, who set a time within one hundredth of a second of Alex’s outright record time set the day before. It was quite a weekend! As we now move into the latter stages of the season a titanic battle to see who will win the 2022 British Hillclimb Championship (BHC) presented by Avon Tyres, is now looking like a two horse race between two time Champion Menzies and 2015 Champion Alex Summers. With dropped scores about to come into play, Wallace holds a slender lead moving into the last three events of the season. Despite his record breaking performance Scott Moran now finds himself adrift of Alex in third place overall. After a weekend when both set personal best times and as a result took a healthy haul of BHC points, Trevor Willis and Matt Ryder remain in fourth and fifth places overall. Dropped scores are likely to narrow the gap between them and as a result make their battle even more intense as we move into the last few events of the season.
The first run-off saw the pace hot up as the sun shone towards the end of the day! Summers new outright record time of 32.94 in his IndyCar engined DJ Firestorm gave him a gap of just over a quarter of a second from the chasing Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M). Both Alex and Wallace were really ‘on it’ particularly through the tight tree lined Esses section of the track, as they looked for every extra hundredth of a second that they could find. Nearly four tenths of a second back in a fine third place was Trevor Willis (OMS 28 – RPE V8) who was having a great day, setting times he had never set before. Matt Ryder (Gould GR59 Judd) bounced back from his Guernsey disappointment to finish just twelve one hundredths of a second behind Trevor in fourth place. A disappointed fifth was Scott Moran in the Gould GR59J. ‘Scotty’ was not disappointed with his time which was a personal best, but was somewhat disbelieving to finish with only six points for fifth place! Paul Haimes showed his usual good Wiscombe Park pace in his turbo charged Hayabusa engined Gould GR59, to finish an excellent sixth, just under two tenths of a second ahead of Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2). David Warburton (Gould GR59) continued his 30th Birthday celebrations by finishing a fine eighth, just seven one hundredths of a second ahead of a delighted Eynon Price in his 1720cc Force TA. This was Eynon’s first run-off points score since Harewood at the beginning of May, in what so far has proven to be a challenging 2022 season for the spectacular Welshman. Jonathen Varley (GWR Predator) continued his fine form to finish an encouraging tenth. Missing out on points in eleventh was Gould constructor Sean Gould, who was sharing the ‘works’ Gould GR59 for the first time in the 2022 season with Matt Ryder. Sean’s sabbatical was caused by a shoulder issue which needed surgery to resolve. As a result Sean was settling back in as he found both confidence and form. Darren Gumbley (Force TA) also finished out of the points but was delighted to have made the cut.
The second run-off was won by Wallace Menzies with an excellent time of 32.95 seconds. He was just three one hundredths of a second ahead of Scott Moran in the growing sub thirty three second club! Both Wallace and Scott however secured a vital bonus point for being under the record that stood before the weekend. Just under two tenths of a second behind Wallace was BHC Championship challenger Alex Summers. Alex tried Avon Tyres for the first time during qualifying and found that they did not affect the balance of the car. This gave him the confidence to fit them for the second run-off too. Alex was in fact ahead on the clock at half way in the Esses. His time did however slip away in the section from Sawbench up to Martini resulting in a third place finish. Matt Ryder marginally improved his personal best time to finish an excellent fourth, a mere three one hundredths of a second ahead of sparring partner Trevor Willis. Sean Gould found a massive amount of time from qualifying to finish an encouraging sixth on his return to British Hillclimbing – well done Sean! Dave Uren scored his first BHC points of the weekend by finishing seventh. It had been a difficult weekend until this point for Dave who suffered a small battery related fire in qualifying on Saturday and was therefore unable to take his run. In eighth place was Richard Spedding a tenth of a second ahead of Paul Haimes in ninth. Tenth and scoring his fist BHC points of the season was a delighted Darren Gumbley. Out of the points were Jonathen Varley who took a little too much speed into the last corner Martini and nosed gently into the bank. Eynon Price also hit problems when his engine cut out when exiting Sawbench Hairpin.
At the time of writing points for the BHC Cup presented by Classic Car Insurance Broker Footman James were being calculated and ratified. With a class win on both Saturday and Sunday BHC Cup leader Richard Spedding (GWR Raptor 2) had a great weekend as did Alex Coles in his Formula Ford Van Diemen RF86. A rare defeat for Jonathen Varley in the GWR Predator will have dented his Championship challenge a little. An update will be added to this report once this process has been completed.
New member of the sub thirty three second club Scott Moran said “ We made a few minor adjustments to the setup of the car on Saturday evening and this was enough to get us into the mix. I am delighted to go sub thirty three and be so close to the outright record today which made up for Saturday’s result. Both Wallace and Alex have been the class of the field this year. It’s been great to get in amongst the two of them on occasion, but whoever comes out on top it’s going to be very well deserved.”
Current BHC Championship leader said “I am very happy with the progress that we made from Saturday to Sunday. I am really delighted to have won the Sunday run-off but it was mighty close with Scotty! The new format of a run-off on both Saturday and Sunday was interesting and seemed to attract a really good crowd. The welcome that we get at Wiscombe from both the organising Club and the locals is always great and creates a really good atmosphere. I am really looking forward to what is sure to be another classic battle again at Shelsley in a couple of weeks.”
The Championship now moves onto Shelsley Walsh over the weekend of 13/14 August where the BHC will celebrate its 75th Anniversary. A number of past BHC Champions will be attending alongside a few important cars in the history of the Championship. The track action is sure to be very hot as Alex, Wallace and probably a few others attack Sean Gould’s outright record of 22.37 seconds. Sean is entered in the ‘works’ Gould GR59-Judd too, and is sure to be giving it his all. With Wallace holding a slender BHC Championship lead over Alex and dropped scores coming into play at Shelsley it's still all to play for. So make your plans to be at Shelsley, its sure to be a fantastic weekend! Advance tickets can be purchased on the button below.