Goings on at Gurston!

For anyone in the South of the country, the Gurston Down Test Day always signals the start of the hillclimb calendar and despite it being a non-spectator event, it always has a good crowd of visitors who want to get a sneaky peak at what’s new & improved for the season.

Gurston Down Hillclimb Paddock

The Gurston paddock awakes to another season of hillclimbing



So here is a little tour of the comings & goings at the Wiltshire hill for 2012.

Having sold the front-running Pilbeam MP58 over the winter, John Forsyth has acquired an historic Alfa Dana 500cc F3 car from Sweden. After his first outing he felt that there maybe something wrong with the brakes, however an experienced 500 pilot tried the car & declared that they were much better than usual… After the grunt & downforce of the Pilbeam, this may take some getting used to!

John Forsyth Alfa Dana Gurston Down

John Forsyth, aided by son Andrew, debuted his Alfa Dana 500



Former Gould-DFR driver Kelvin Jouhar was dialling in DTA Fast launch & traction control systems during the day, although he did have problems with the sensors early on…


Devon-based Empire Suzuki drivers Dave & Pam Gardner are back out again in their familiar yellow bike-engined single-seater. This year the car features a striking new engine cover & air intake… The new bodywork ain’t pretty (in my opinion), but it should be effective!

Pam Gardner Empire Suzuki Gurston Down

Pam Gardner in the modified Empire Suzuki



After a disasterous 2011 season, which saw constant gearbox trouble effectively destroy their season, it was great to see Peter Sexton & Jonathan Gates have a successful day. The Force LM001 drivers were finally able to get some quality running in the car and after 5 trouble-free runs they announced themselves happy and went home before something broke!

Force LM001 Peter Sexton Jonathan Gates Gurston Down

The lovely carbon Force LM001 of Sexton & Gates


Gurston regulars the Stapleys have had a bit of a change for the 2012 season. With lead driver Ben not having finished assembling his Pilbeam MP72, he has become Le Patron instead and has prepared two MGFs for the family to use. Wife Dee & Daughter Hannah debuted the cars (which were finished at 11.30pm on Saturday evening).

Dee Stapley MGF Gurston Down

Dee Stapley's MGF became the first new car of 2012 to wear speedhillclimb.com stickers!


Doug Bennett, the mad Sylva Striker driver, made the long haul up to Gurston with his wild Sylva/Pilbeam hybrid. The 650bhp supercharged spaceframe car was a real handful as always, but Doug had a smile on his face for most of the day… Which is more than can be said for his mechanic Rich Hidderley when he realised a) that Doug had lunched first gear and b) that Doug HAD brought a spare with him!


Doug Bennett Sylva Striker Gearbox

Rich gets to work on Doug's gearbox!


And last but by no means least, BARC SW Competition Secretary Paul Webster was out with his latest interpretation of a Mazda MX5. Having run a standard car in 2010, a standard chassis with heavily modified engine in 2011, for 2012 Webbo has gone the whole hog and has stripped the MX5 of everything which is non-essential.

Whilst a little disappointed with the final weight of the car, he announced himself very happy with the way that it felt on the track. No doubt the reduction of all that weight and the addition of a set of slicks will make a huge difference to the times of this always competitive driver.

Paul Webster Mazda MX5 Gurston Down

There's nothing left of it! Webbo's slimline Mazda


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