The 2015 Meadens Skoda Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship and BARC (SW) Top Ten Challenge end of season report
The Meadens Skoda Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship
As reported in our ‘half term’ review after round 3 in June we had three drivers tied on equal points heading the Gurston Championship, Simon Neve (class 4b, 2.3t Mitsubishi Evo 6), Stephen Moore (class 10, 2.0t Mitsubishi Evo 6) and 2014 Top Ten Challenge winner and former championship sponsor Jonathan Gates (class 15, 1.3s Force LM) all on 64.50 points. However, at the combined Gurston/Midland Championship event in July one driver took charge of the situation with a new class record and that man was Stephen Moore, who shaved the absolute minimum of one hundredth of a second off his own previous record to collect a crucial bonus championship point that a new class record brings. Simply put, that meant that for any of his title rivals to have a chance of even equalling his 87.00 four round total they too would need to break their respective class records in September’s finale…
The July event sprang another surprise as one of the title pretenders, Jonathan Gates, was unable to compete because of business commitments, which saw him tumble down the table, albeit it with ‘maximum scores’ (short of breaking his class record that is) of 21.50 points from the events he had done, which would seem him as a significant player in the final round…
Simon Neve once again won his class but didn’t quite get maximum points. This put him in second overall after the July event on 85.87 points.
Graham Beale (class 5, 1.8 Ginetta G20) slotted into third place with another maximum points win in July but having scored 21.10 points in the opening round in April his round 4 total was 85.60 points.
So coming into September’s final round and with dropped scores coming into play, three drivers could theoretically equal Stephen Moore’s total IF they could break their respective class records, namely Neve, Beale and Gates. Of these, Simon Neve had been closest to his class record during the season but it still looked a very tall order to get under his record. In effect then, these three were battling for the second and third steps on the championship podium. And it all went wrong for Simon Neve even before the final round as mechanical gremlins prevented him from bringing his usual car and he arrived in a ‘spare’ earlier, and clearly not as quick Evo. Graham Beale too had to miss the final round at the last minute as family priorities intervened. And so it was down to the 2014 Top Ten Challenge winner Jonathan Gates to clamber back up the points table again, and this he did with a sufficiently big win in the up to 2000cc sports libre class to finish on a best four from five scores total of 86.00 points, enough for second overall. Simon Neve hung onto third overall with his post-July 85.87 points tally.
With none of his challengers able to break their class records then, Stephen Moore had done enough even before the final round to take a well-deserved first Gurston Championship title. But to underline his pace and dominance in the over 2000cc modified series production class in the 2.0t Janspeed Evo, on what was not an especially quick day he still closed to within three hundredths of his new class record. Congratulations then to a worthy winner!
The 2015 Meadens Skoda Gurston Down Hillclimb Champion, Stephen Moore. Copyright: Akina Media
Having scored 1-2s in the AutolinkMX5.com-supported class 4a, roadgoing series production cars up to 2000cc in the first three rounds, the spectacular Greenen brothers Adam and Andy had a character-forming event in July… Adam had tied on the first runs in the family 2.0 Honda Civic Type R with Gurston’s non-championship registered comp sec Paul Webster (1.9 Mazda MX5), with Andy less than three tenths behind. But on his second effort Andy got out of shape around Hollow and rolled the car into Karousel to record a fail and, sadly, put the car out of action for the rest of the season. However, the points scored on the basis of their first runs were enough that they hung onto first (Adam) and second in the championship class. Tim Forster was a solid third in his 1.7 Lotus Elan having had some close battles with Ian Redding (2.0 Peugeot 306) and Steve Harris (1.8 Vauxhall Corsa). Support for this class remains very strong indeed, and 2016 sees a sub-division being introduced for Mazda MX5s, which in due course will become a class in its own right. See the Driver’s Information page for further details of what will be an extremely accessible class to get started in hillclimbing at Gurston Down!
Adam Greenen held onto class 4a. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 4b, roadgoing series production cars over 2000cc, supported by Turbo Dynamics, was led from the outset by Simon Neve in his rapid 2.3t Evo 6, and despite the above mentioned problems in the final round he hung onto a well-deserved class championship win. But in second spot was the constantly improving Clive Stangle in his 1.8t Audi TT Quattro, and Clive won the class for the first time in September’s finale to bring his total score to 81.50 points, enough for 11th overall and highest placed class championship runner up.
Simon Neve won class 4b and was third overall. Copyright: Akina Media
The DTA Race Electonics-supported class 4c for roadoing specialist productions cars saw another winner who improved at every event. Piers Thynne went really well in his turbocharged 1.3t Westfield Megabusa and by round 3 was well into the 32s bracket. In the final two rounds he scored 21.50 point maximums to take a comfortable win in the class championship. Clive Skipper (2.0 Caterham 7 HPC) and Adrian Lewis (1.4 Westfield Megabusa) traded places through the season and although Lewis beat Skipper 3-2, on cumulative time gaps Skipper finished runner up in the class championship by just seven hundredths over the season’s best four scores!
Piers Thynne, class 4c winner and fifth overall. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 5 for up to 2000cc modified limited production marque sports cars was dominated by Graham Beale in his 1.8 Ginetta G20, and but for a slightly reduced winning margin in April’s first round and missing the final round he might have finished second overall on equal points to Jonathan Gates. Second in class was Steph Colvin in the 1.8 MGF she has shared for some years with third placed mum Dee Stapley, and Steph did enough in the first four rounds to collect the Heather Brampton Trophy for the highest placed lady driver in the championship. In the final round she, along with step sister Hannah Stapley, switched to the venerable family 3.1 Datsun 240Z, a class 6 entry to look out for in 2016.
Graham Beale, class 5 winner and fourth overall. Copyright: Akina Media
Onto class 6 then for over 2000cc marque sports cars, sponsored by New Techniques, and 2014 Gurston Champion Simon Purcell had installed a 1.8 litre supercharged engine in his Lotus Exige to replace the 1.4 litre lump he’d used to win class 5 and the championship last year. This proved effective from the start and although Simon had some gearbox issues during the season he managed to see off Tim Painter in the 3.6 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on three out of the four occasions the pair locked horns. The margins were never big though which hampered Simon’s overall scoring, and although he won the class championship he had to settle for 10th overall this year.
2014 Champion Simon Purcell took class 6 and tenth overall. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 7 for modified series production cars up to 1400cc, newly sponsored in 2015 by the Fieldfare Trailer Centre at Ford, near Salisbury, was the usual Mini-Fest again, and this year the 2014 class runner up was the one to dominate, Neil Turner taking his well-developed Cooper ‘S’ to five wins from five to seal the class championship and net 6th overall. Former Gurston champion Derek Mullis keeps pedalling ‘Brighteyes 2′, his 1.3 Cooper ‘S’ with brisk aplomb up Gurston and finished runner up, again landing the Marsh & Masters Trophy for the highest placed driver of pensionable age in the championship.
Neil Turner, class 7 champion. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 8, modified series production cars up to 2000cc and sponsored by Tipadel, went to the very rapid Colin Satchell in his 2.0 Peugeot 205GTi, who managed to squeeze in a couple of Gurston rounds despite following the National Hillclimb Leaders trail (with much success…) this season.
Colin Satchell, winner of class 8. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 9, modprod series production saloons over 2000cc sponsored by Cock & Son (Builders) had just the one championship entrant, the aforementioned Stephen Moore, whose main concern of course was the overall placings!
Stephen Moore, class 9 and overall Champion. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 10, modprod series production sports over 2000cc sponsored by Meadens Skoda was Mark Walker’s domain in his revamped and more potent 3.9 Porsche Cayman S and Mark’s times came down generally through the season too.
Mark Walker, class 10 winner. Copyright: Akina Media
In the modified specialist production class up to 200cc sponsored by Gates of Brockenhurst it was great to see Antony Orchard back out, this time in a normally aspirated 1.3 Westfield ‘Bakerbusa’. Antony started his season in the May National so missed round 1 of the championship, then struggled with driveline issues in round 3, but went on to score two wins in the final two rounds to win the class championship. Former sparring partner Ritchie Gatt (2.0 Westfield SEiW), though not entered in the championship this year, gave chase in the final two rounds and kept Antony on his toes!
Antony Orchard, class 11 winner. Copyright: Akina Media
Another former champion, Mike Rudge, was once again the sole championship runner in class 12, specialist production cars over 2000cc, sponsored by Speedhillclimb.com, but as ever proved to be highly entertaining to watch as he hussled the potent 2.3 Westfield SEi up the hill. Not quite down to times we have seen in past seasons, Mike’s reward nevertheless was the class win and 9th overall this year, as he admitted the Westie ‘might be needing some attention’ over the coming winter.
Mike Rudge charged to the class 12 win. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 13, the Historically Interesting cars class, sponsored by Kelvin Jouhar, looked at the half way stage as if it could produce another overall championship contender with Hugh Kemp picking up two 21.50 scores in June. Sadly though he had to miss the July round and a failed wheel bearing on the 1.6 Palliser WDF3 saw him drop out in September. Hugh did win the championship class though from Mike Broome in his latest acquisition, a 1.8 Alexis Mk 17 F3. Club stalwart Geoff Hunt made a welcome return in his 1.6 Lotus 22 and these three are sure to have some good battles in 2016.
Hugh Kemp, winner of class 13. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 15 for sports libre cars up to 2000cc, sponsored by Goodridge Hoses, hung in the balance until the final round as class leader Jonathan Gates (1.3s Force LM) missed round 4 in July because of business priorities. As the only driver to score in all rounds Peter Steel (1.3 Mallock Mk 20) led the class going into the finale but with Gates entered as well as Chris Cannell in his 1.3s Empire Evo (who ran in round 1 in his class 16 Force SR8 and had therefore only scored three times in class 15) it was going to be hard not to be swamped! Sure enough Gates scored a good win to rack up his fourth 21.50 points score and catapult himself into second overall in the championship. To be fair, Chris Cannell endured a failing clutch as well as ongoing boost problems in the final round that hampered the Empire’s pace; had he set a similar time to that achieved in rounds 3 and 4 then Gates’s final position may have been different… Peter Steel was ultimately bumped down to third in class.
Jonathan Gates won class 15 and finished second overall. Copyright: Akina Media
In class 16, sports libre over 2000cc, sponsored by Lewis Property Services, Chris Cannell won the opening encounter in April in his 2.6 Force SR8 from Keith Diggle in his 2.2 WEV HCS, but Diggle went on to collect two 21.50 scores in June. He had to give best to (non-registered) Nic Mann’s awesome 1.7t Mannic Beattie in July and ran alone in September, so collected 7th overall and the class title.
Keith Diggle, class 16 winner and seventh overall. Copyright: Akina Media
Another hard-working BARC (SW) committee man John Forsyth enjoyed another season in his 500cc Alfa Dana and took class 17 for Racing cars to 500 Owners Association Rules, sponsored by Riley Crane Hire.
John Forsyth, winner of class 17. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 19 for racing cars up to 100cc, sponsored by Drynham Project Management, is enjoying a well-supported and competitive spell at present, and we saw four different class winners in the Gurston championship rounds, but the class championship winner wasn’t one of them! Full marks for consistency and being there then to James Moore (1.1 OMS 2000M) who won the class title. The class winners were Calum Kemp (1.1 OMS PR, second in the class championship), Bradley Hobday (1.0 Jedi Mk 4, with the fastest time in the championship class in 2015) and in the final round Tony Levitt (1.0 Empire Evo) who enjoyed an excellent debut season. Steve Loadsman was third in the class championship in his 1.1 OMS). Expect close battles here again next season.
James Moore, class 19 champion. Copyright: Akina Media
Following its debut in the Championship in 2014, class 20a for Pre-1994 Formula Ford 1600 class, newly sponsored in 2015 by Veloce Publishing, produced another championship entrant in the form of Gurston press officer Simon McBeath, returning to the cockpit (in his newly acquired 1.6 Swift SC92) after 12 years of driving his camera. 2014 class champion Andy Abbey and co-driver Chris Burley (1.6 Jamun M91) led the class points until the final round but the late starting McBeath edged ahead of Abbey in the June and July events to make the class championship a straight fight between the pair in the finale. Disastrously Abbey slid into the Ashes exit tyre wall on his first timed run, putting the Jamun out for the rest of the meeting, allowing McBeath, who beat Chris Burley on the day, to collect enough points to win the class title. Further entries are expected in this class in 2016 as it continues its steady growth.
Simon McBeath, winner of class 20a. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 20 for racing cars up to 1600cc, sponsored by SM AeRo Techniques, often sees the fastest times at Gurston nowadays, such is the pace of the lightweight and highly developed Hayabusa-powered cars. The two quickest protagonists at Gurston Championship events in recent times have been Ed Hollier, now aboard his 1.6 Empire Evo, and Peter D. Smith in the 1.6 Force he shares with Richard Gaylard. As in 2013 there was no stopping Hollier though and he won the class in each of the first four rounds to take the class championship title (and eighth overall) ahead of Smith and Gaylard. Hollier missed the final round because of a cracked gearbox casing sustained at Prescott the week before, allowing Smith to take his sole win of the year ahead of his co-driver. Kelvin Broad was getting quicker all year in the ex-Hollier 1.6 PilbeamMP62 and finished fourth but is sure to be right in the thick of it in 2016.
Ed Hollier, class 21 winner and eighth overall. Copyright: Akina Media
Class 21, the up to 2000cc racing car class, sponsored by Gundry’s Farm Caravan & Camping Park, saw Simon Moyse run in three events in the 1.3 supercharged Gould GR59 while Andy McBeath completed two events in his 1.3 supercharged OMS 25. The pair had fun swapping first and second places in June’s double-header to put them equal on points at that stage but with McBeath non-starting in July, Moyse’s second in a class bolstered by Midland Championship runners in that event was enough to seal the Gurston class title. 2016 will see locally-based brothers Simon and Peter Marsh in Simon’s 1.3 supercharged DJ Firehawk hopefully contending the Championship. The pair debuted the car in September’s finale and immediately showed the car’s potential, so are sure to be a factor in the future.
Class 22 winner Simon Moyse. Copyright: Akina Media
The Top Ten Challenge
Having already scored three 10 point maximums in the first three rounds it was a pretty safe bet that Ed Hollier would continue in similar fashion in July’s round 4. So he did, wrapping up his second Top Ten Challenge title in three years with the maximum possible 40 points in the 1.6 Empire Evo. It was unfortunate that his absence in the finale meant he couldn’t go for his second clean sweep of five from five but the important work had already been done!
Ed Hollier, 2015 Top Ten Challenge winner. Copyright: Akina Media
Peter D. Smith was second to Hollier each time the pair came head to head, but in the finale he set a rapid time for BTD and ten points to take the runner up spot with 37 points.
Third place hung in the balance until the final round,with Richard Gaylard occupying the place going into the event but Jonathan Gates threatening in the sports libre Force LM, having scored in one round less than Gaylard. It was a very close run thing as Gaylard took an early advantage with a first run 30.34s and Gates trailing on 31.05s. But then Gates fired back with a 30.32s second effort to edge out the single seater driver, who unfortunately then spun on his final charge! Gates thus took third in the Challenge to add to his second in the Championship.
With the aforementioned Marsh brothers likely to enter their 1.3s DJ Firehawk in 2016, the Challenge may take on a different complexion next season. Don’t miss it!