Big crowds turned out to watch the season’s first two days of championship speed hillclimbing at Gurston Down on April 18th and 19th. And they were treated to a superb selection of two-, three- and four-wheeled machinery with drivers and riders racing against the clock on the fast and narrow 967 metre course. Best Time of the Day (BTD) was set on both days by brilliant Devonian Ed Hollier in his 1.6 Empire Evo single seater. Ed, like most drivers, was struggling to get near previous best times in the cool and dusty conditions, commenting that grip was in short supply in the braking and the accelerating zones.
Ed Hollier blasts off the start in his rapid 1.6 Empire Evo. Copyright: Simon McBeath
Ed Hollier, very modest, very quick. Copyright: Simon McBeath.
Despite the generally low grip levels two new class records were established over the weekend. On Saturday Justin Andrews carved large chunks off the SBD Championship registered road legal cars record in his 2.1t Subaru Impreza, setting the new mark at 35.01 seconds. And on Sunday Tom Walker made the switch from the Austin Healey Sprite class to the Big Healey & Warwick Cars class and shaved 15 hundredths off his own mark there in his Healey 3000.
The small but beautifully formed group of bikers put on a great show as always, and Paul Jeffery won the 751cc to 1300cc class on his mighty KTM RC8 1200, also setting bike BTD in the process. But the tables were turned in the bike Top Ten Run Off as Peter Short (525cc Honda) won by just six hundredths from Jeffery with Tommy Hodges (504cc Team GV CRF) just another seven hundredths behind in third place.
Paul Jeffrey set bike BTD on the big KTM RC8. Copyright Simon McBeath.
Full details below. Meanwhile, a link to TSL’s superb results service is HERE. Just scroll to the relevant meeting and date and click from there.
Saturday April 18th
As usual, Saturday’s event kicked off with the invited club classes and produced the first of the weekend’s class records as Justin Andrews hacked over three seconds off the SBD Championship mark in his 2.1t Subaru Impreza. Alistair Frayling-Cork took the expected win in the Austin 7 (Road) class in his 7 Special but the closest result of the day was in the Austin 7 (Race) class as Martin Whittaker (0.75 Austin 7 Single Seat) came from behind to edge out Paul Geering’s 0.75 ‘Pigsty Special’ by exactly one hundredth! In the ACSMC Road Registered class Jack Gammon’s 3.2 BMW M3 was going well and two consistent runs netted the win here.
As a former record holder in the TVR class Jes Firth (5.0 TVR Griffith) was always going to be tough to beat and he took the win by nine tenths from Trevor McMaster’s 4.3 TVR Tamora, he in turn just 16 hundredths ahead of Steve Mogg’s 5.0 TVR Griffith. And in the Westfield Cars class it was Barry Slingsby (2.0 Westfield GGR) taking gold with a low 33 second shot first time up, over a second clear of Peter Goulding (2.0 Westfield SEiW) in second.
The Classic Marque Speed Challenge class has grown tremendously in the last couple of years and there were no less than 26 classified finishers in Saturday’s event. At the top just seven hundredths split first and second places after the first runs but Matthew Eady carved more than half a second off on his final climb to win in his 2.0 Ginetta G4 from Graham Millar’s Vauxhall engine 2.0 Ford Escort Mk 2 and Classic Marque prime mover Steve Cox (5.0 TVR V8S).
Classic Marque Speed Series competition secretary Steve Cox. Copyright: Simon McBeath
Onto the regular Gurston classes then, and in the up to 2000cc roadgoing series production class the Greenen brothers Andy and Adam took up where they left off in 2014 in their rapid 2.0 Honda Civic Type R, Adam heading off his brother by three tenths. These two were the only ones in class to go sub-40 seconds on the day. Ian Redding snatched third in his 2.0 Peugeot 306 from Steve Harris’s 1.8 Vauxhall Corsa by just one hundredth.
In the over 2000cc roadgoing series production class Stephen Moore won in his 2.0t Mitsubishi Evo 6 with a solid mid 34-second time four tenths clear of Simon Neve’s 2.3t Evo 6, which had some handling issues.
Martin Watson switched from the Westfield class to run in the roadgoing specialist production class and duly took the win in his 2.0 Westfield SEiW by 37 hundredths from Clive Skipper’s Caterham 7 HPC, with Andrew Forsyth, having his first competition outing in his newly acquired Westfield Megabusa, in third.
The up to 2000cc marque sports cars saw Peter Ellens bring his iconic 1.6 Renault Alpine A110 along for the day and he must have been pleased he did because he went home with the class win with a couple of solid mid 41-second runs. In second place was the ultra-consistent Steph Limb in the 1.8 MGF with two identical times.
2014 Gurston champion Simon Purcell has now installed a 1.8 litre motor in his Lotus Exige, together with the supercharger that he ran on the 1.4 litre engine last year, and so has moved up to the over 2000cc marque sports car class. The car, and Simon, were both flying and a good 35-second run saw off Bob Mortimer’s 2.7 Porsche 911 by a comfortable margin.
Onto the modified series production cars up to 1400cc, and Neil Turner improved mightily in his 1.4 Mini Cooper ‘S’ second time up to record a 36-second time and win by a safe margin from the ultra-experienced Derek Mullis in his five-port 1.3 Cooper ‘S’.
In the up to 2000cc modified series production class Colin Satchell (2.0 Peugeot 205 GTi) proved way too quick for William Verhaak (1.8 Mazda MX5) with mid-34 second times on both runs.
The over 2000cc modified series production saloons brought out some potent machinery and it was Geoff Kershaw’s 3.0 litre turbo Ford Sierra that ruled the roost here with a high 35 second run.
Mike Rudge was sole runner in the modified specialist production classes but entertained as always in the 2.3 Duratec engine Westfield SEi with two 31-second climbs.
The Historically Interesting class delivered the usual eclectic mix of machinery, and Hugh Kemp set a very respectable 36-second time to win in his lovely 1.6 Palliser WDF3 from the recently renovated and equally superb Alexis Mk 17 F3 of Mike Broome.
Mike Broome’s Alexis Mk 17 F3. Copyright: Simon McBeath
The sports libre classes were amalgamated on this occasion and Keith Diggle was a comfortable winner in his 2.1 WEV HCS ahead of the new 1.3s Empire Evo of Chris Cannell, with Clive Wooster third in his aerodynamically uprated 1.5 Radical SR4.
Stuart Barnes was the sole finisher in the 500 OA class in his Iota P1.01 and set two very consistent times as John Forsyth battled with all manner of mechanical maladies in the Alfa Dana, all of which transpired to be down to loose or out of balance flywheels causing severe vibrations.
In the 1100cc racing car class Bradley Hobday was the only sub-32 second runner of the day (of the weekend in fact) in the class in his 1.0 Jedi Mk 4 and he won by two thirds of a second from John Oxborrow’s 1.0 OX-7 with James Moore some distance back in third in his 1.1 OMS 2000M.
The combined 1600cc and 2000cc racing car classes became seriously depleted after nose box problems ruled out Peter D Smith and Richard Gaylard in their 1.6 Force, and Simon Moyse’s 1.3s Gould GR59 developed a curious engine management issue that effectively held the throttle open and rendered him a non-starter. Paul Morcom too suffered mechanical failure in practice as the distributor drive on his lovely Merlyn Mk 11a sheared. Ed Hollier (1.6 Empire Evo) and Peter Hammock (1.6 OMS CF04) thus constituted the class and Hollier duly delivered the day’s only sub-30 second climbs, his first being the quicker on 29.34s. The OMS of Peter Hammock has undergone much sorting over the winter at the hands of Mark and Matt Pemble at the Pemble Partnership and personal best times were the order of the day as Peter got used to his much improved car.
The SBD HSA Speed Championship classes saw wins for Mike Smith in his 1.7 Sylva Striker with two low 37-second runs in the Saloons and Sports Car division, and John Weedon set identical times on each run to shade out father Jonathan in their recently acquired 1.7 Mallock Mk 20B in the Sports Racing and Racing division.
Sunday April 19th
The TR Cars class opened proceedings on the Sunday and Roderick Warner followed the form book in his 3.5 TR7 V8 with the win ahead of Dale Huxford’s 1.3 Triumph Spitfire Mk 4 with local man Nick Smith’s 2.6 TR6 in third place.
The Big Healey and Warwick Cars class saw record holder Tom Walker (3.0 Austin Healey 3000 Mk 1) make the switch from the Sprite class to take the win and reset his own record by 15 hundredths in the process, dropping the mark into the 37s for the first time with a fine second effort. Richard Mason (3-litre 3000 Mk 2) was the only other sub-40second runner in second spot.
The Sprite class saw just one driver dip below 40 seconds and it was Julian Wakeham in the 1.4 Mk 1, with Andrew Taylor seven tenths adrift in second place.
Once again the Classic Marques were out in force, with 21 finishers this time, and Trevor McMaster headed the field this time in his 4.3 Tamora, half a second ahead of Saturday’s winner Matthew Eady (2.0 Ginetta G4).
On paper the up to 2000cc roadgoing series production class appeared to deliver an identical result to Saturday with the Greenen brothers once more taking a 1-2, Adam again leading the way by three tenths. But there were some lively practice antics first of all for Andy before the first runs saw the pair split by just six hundredths with Andy just ahead. Adam pulled out all the stops on Run 2 though to improve by seven tenths while Andy shaved off just a third of a second to finish second. Behind these two Tim Forster (1.7 Lotus Elan) was also going very rapidly and he too dropped into the 38-second bracket for third spot.
In the over 2000cc roadgoing series production class Simon Neve set similar times to Saturday in his 2.3t Mitsubishi Evo to take a comfortable win and go into the joint lead of the Gurston Championship with a 21.50 point score. Behind him was debutant Clive Stangle in his 1.8t Seat Leon Cupra R who used his recent Gurston Down Hillclimb Drivers School experience to good effect to hold off the 2.0 Honda S2000 of Tim Simpson for the runner up spot.
Piers Thynne brought along his turbocharged Westfield Megabusa for Sunday’s clash in the roadgoing specialist production class and duly delivered with mid-33 second times to take the win (and the final point of the day in the Top Ten Challenge). Clive Skipper (2.0 Caterham HPC) had to make do with the runner up spot again, with Andrew Forsyth once more in third in his 1.3 Westfield Megabusa.
In the up to 2000cc marque sports car class Nick Morgan brought his 1.8 Lotus Elise along and set consistent mid-41 second times to take the win with Steph Limb again the runner up in the 1.8 MGF.
The reigning Gurston champion Simon Purcell once more got the verdict in his 1.8s Lotus Exige in the over 2000cc marque sports class ahead of Bob Mortimer’s 2.7 Porsche 911, Purcell almost breaking into the 34s in the process. With more than two finishers in class Purcell would have held the joint lead in the Championship again but he picked up just 21.00 points instead.
Derek Mullis held the lead in the up to 1400cc modified series production class at half time in his 1.3 Cooper ‘S’ but after a first run problem Neil Turner got back up to speed to snatch the win once more in his 1.4 Cooper ‘S’.
The combined modified series production up to 2000cc and modified series production saloon over 2000cc saw Colin Satchell go deep into the 34s to fend off the 2.0t Mitsubishi Evo 6 of Stephen Moore, running on slicks on this occasion, by two tenths. Moore picked up 21.50 points in his class to hold the joint lead in the Gurston Championship, but he can only add to that score if he runs in the same class at subsequent meetings.
Colin Satchell, whose Peugeot 205 GTi is now bright blue, leaves the line. Copyright: Simon McBeath
Mike Rudge once more dipped below 32 seconds in his 2.3 Westfield, roughly a second away from his own class record although a tenth slower than Saturday on a still dusty track. Mike was nevertheless eighth fastest overall.
The Historically Interesting class was halved during practice as Hugh Kemp had an adventurous spin across the Karousel infield, leaving Mike Broome to take his first win in the 1.8 Alexis Mk 17 F3. Sadly Mike too retired after the first run with a faulty clutch.
The up to 2000cc sports libre class saw 2014 Top Ten Challenge winner Jonathan Gates appear in his 1.3s Force LM and set fourth BTD to take a comfortable class win and go into the joint lead of the Gurston Championship with 21.50 points. Peter Steel (1.3 Mallock Mk 20) held off Tim Pitfield (1.3 DJ Firecat) by just12 hundredths for second place.
Chris Cannell switched to his 2.6 Force SR8 overnight after discovering throttle butterfly issues with the new 1.3s Empire Evo, and despite not having looked at his old car since last September’s event took the over 2000cc sports libre win from Keith Diggle’s 2.1 WEV HCS by seven tenths.
The 500 OA class became something of a Dent benefit as John won from Alistair in their respective Coopers, with John almost two seconds out in front.
Calum Kemp was a delighted winner in the 1100cc racing car class in the family 1.1 OMS PR, finishing exactly one second clear of James Moore’s 1.1 OMS 2000M with Euan Kemp just 38 hundredths behind in third.
In the Formula Ford class Andrew Abbey and Chris Burley went head to head again in their shared 1.6 Jamun M91, with Andy emerging the winner as Chris continued shaving chunks off his times in just his second event in the car.
With the Smith/Gaylard Force back in action, Ed Hollier was under more pressure in the 1600cc racing car class but he again set a low 29 second run to take the class and BTD, plus 10 points in the Top Ten Challenge. Peter D. Smith put a practice spin at Karousel behind him and came in second, 54 hundredths behind Hollier, with co-driver Richard Gaylard just another 38 hundredths behind in third, these three taking the top three spots in the Top Ten Challenge after round 1.
Ed Hollier crests Deer’s Leap. Copyright: Robb Webb, www.robbwebbphotography.co.uk
With a clashing round of the NHCA Championship at Loton Park the bike entry was somewhat depleted but as ever they were spectacular to watch. Bike BTD and the 1300cc class went to Paul Jeffrey on his mighty 1.2 KTM RC8, with the other classes going to Simon Wilson (250 Yamaha), Paul Tilley (257 Honda), Peter Short (525 Honda) and Kevin & Sara Dewell (781 Honda SKR). Peter Short improved his time in the bike Top Ten Run Off to take the win from Paul Jeffery who seemed briefly to hesitate at the Karousel and could not quite match his earlier class winning/BTD time.
It was a terrific weekend of action to get the season off to a great start, and the next event at Gurston Down is a British Hillclimb Championship event on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday and Sunday May 23rd/24th.
The crowds enjoyed two superb days of hillclimbing at Gurston on April 18th & 19th. Copyright: Simon McBeath
The marshals were out in numbers as well. This chap supervised paddock assembly for two solid days. Copyright: Simon McBeath