Concrete and Clay

The closing rounds of the Avon Tyres/TTC Group MSA British Hillclimb and Hillclimb Leaders Championships, along with the BMTR Midland Hill Climb Championship were fought out at Loton Park in Shropshire over the weekend.

Whilst the overall winner of the British HC was settled at Doune the penultimate event, the final top nine places were going down to the wire. In the class based championships it was a similar story, leading to a meeting punctuated by red flag delays as car after car left the track due to drivers trying their hardest to gain an advantage over class rivals.

The venue was bathed in warm sunshine for two days making ideal conditions for hillclimbing: this was of course after the early morning mist burnt off. For those drivers running at the beginning of the programme the event started at 8.30am, so they had to contend with low temperatures and a cold track on their first timed runs. A break for the Alberbury village church service between 9.30 and 10.30am benefitted the second half of the programme, as the mist cleared and temperatures rose by the time competition resumed.

The anticipated three car line up in the 600cc racing car class turned into a one man Harry Pick show when his co-driver cancelled his entry and the third class runner transferred into a different class. Harry was on good form having dropped the OMS Hornet into the 52's during Saturday practice. His Sunday morning opener 53.66s was disappointing, but he made up a lot of time on his second climb to finish the weekend on 52.98s.

As has been the case all season, the 1100cc racing car class once again had the largest number of entries: 21 this weekend.  A quarter of a second split the top three places and they were the only drivers in class to dip into the 49's. Simon Andrews (OMS 28) took third 49.83s, behind Simon Fidoe 49.04s and Steve Marr 49.20s, whilst OMS 28 co-driver Bernie Kevill held onto fifth place by 2/100ths from sixth place Darren Gumbley.

A pair of OMS 2000m cars joined the fray in the 1600cc racing car class: Mark Dalton and John McKenzie. This season John has travelled to venues outside of Scotland with his OMS 2000M to compete at a number of British Championship meetings other than his usual Doune events. Speaking with John after the meeting he was delighted to have broken the 50 second barrier, with his best time 49.85s this weekend.

The normally aspirated 2 litre racing car class had a couple of OMS drivers in the top six class point scoring places: Geoff Guille (OMS CF04) and Ian Fidoe (OMS CF09). Geoff's 51.05s run placed him fifth ahead of Ian's 51.29s run in sixth.

Forced induction 2 litre cars included four OMS drivers in two cars. Steve Owen shared with Andy McBeath in his OMS 25 1300s, whilst Lynn Owen shared with Lee Griffiths in the turbo charged OMS 25 1300t variant Lee has campaigned this season. Andy and Steve continued the development work started by Lynn and Andy at Gurston Down and Prescott a few weeks ago. Clearly the work has paid off, with Steve running under 50s on all but one of his runs. His best time 48.69 also bagged him fourth in class. Andy set himself a new personal best time 51.11s in the afternoon, after failing to get around Museum bend on the first climb.

Lynn was interested to see how a supercharged car differs from one that is turbo charged and how the driving characteristics of the two compared. Unfortunately Lynn had to rely on her first timed run for a place in the results, following an incident involving Lee on his first class run. As he negotiated Loggerheads the car dropped a wheel onto the grass and was dragged into the trackside undergrowth. The car struck what was said to be a lump of concrete hidden in the bracken, though later it was reported to be a large piece of stone. With damage to the car that wasn't repairable at the meeting the car and Lee were both side-lined. A great shame as Lee had been well on the pace during practice.

A similar situation involved Trevor Willis in the OMS 28 V8 during Saturday's practice. He too had a moment at Loggerheads but fortunately for Trevor he only hit grass and earth and only damaged the nose and front wing. Following repairs the car ran for the remainder of the event.

Trevor's main focus for the weekend was to hold onto his number 2 standing in the British Hillclimb Championship. The point’s situation for numbers 2 down to 4 were very close and it would depend on Trevor finishing in the top five on each of the run offs to maintain his position. In the first of the run offs Trevor finished fourth with his 44.60s climb, to gain an additional seven championship points. The final run off caused some consternation for spectators. The clock display at Triangle bend showed an erroneous time for Wallace Menzies and the crowd believed Wallace had won the round with a new hill record. This was not in fact the case and the final round of the BHC was won by Scott Moran on 43.66s with Alex Summers second, Wallace third and Trevor fourth.

Nevertheless job done, Trevor held off the close competition and retained his number 2 for the 2016 season. Alex Summers will be number 1 and Wallace Menzies number 3. Reigning 2014 British Hillclimb Champion Scott Moran will run as number 4 in 2016, having competed at fewer meetings this season following the birth of his second child.

Congratulations to all the championship winners in 2015.

To view the run times and splits click here and to view the British and Leaders Hillclimb Championship tables click here. For in-car footage from the 600cc Hornet driven by Harry Pick click here.

Date: 28/09/2015 | Author: L.Owen