Gurston Finale Preview

The finale of the 2012 Gurston Down Hillclimb season will be run this weekend with a one-day event on Sunday. As always for Gurston meetings, Simon McBeath has written an excellent preview to what promises to be a very interesting event:

Tony Wiltshire Gould GR55

Wilt will be looking to make up for his July shunt


It’s the climactic championship finale at Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb, Broad Chalke, near Salisbury on Sunday September 9th, and there’s a huge entry featuring all the main contenders in the Gates of Brockenhurst Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship and the Top Ten Challenge, as well as some superbly supported invitation classes for TR Cars, Austin Healeys, Reliant Scimitars and Sabres and the historic racing cars of the 500 Owners Association.

The Gurston Championship, in which points are awarded against class bogey times, has certainly not been settled yet, with Simon Thornley from Redditch topping the table in his 1.9 Westfield on 19.27 points, just 0.12 points ahead of 2010 Gurston champion Roy Barker from Stockbridge in his 2.3 Mitsubishi Evo 5. Both drivers set very fast times in round 3 in July and they will each need to repeat those times to maximise their chances of winning the title.

The battle behind these two is also very tight. Jim White from Southampton is currently in third place in his 1.4 Mini Clubman, but Keith Diggle from Aldershot (2.0 WEV HCS) is close behind in fourth, with Salisbury’s Chris Cannell hard on Keith’s heels in fifth in the 1.7 St Bruno Roughcutter. And not to be discounted is another former champion Mike Rudge from Cwmbran (2.3 Westfield) who has only scored in two rounds and currently sits in eighth place, but if he can repeat his July performance he could challenge for a top three position.

The best three from four scores count towards each driver’s total, and with April’s first round having been rain-affected, leading to low points scores across the board at that event, the championship outcome is now simply about how fast the contenders go in this final round.

The Top Ten Challenge is also unfinished business, and is currently headed by Rodney Thorne of Frampton, Dorchester, Rodney having scored in all three rounds in his 3.5 Pilbeam MP58 single seater and his 5.0 Pilbeam MP43 sports racer. He goes in his single seater in this event, and however well he goes, his final position will depend on how well his opponents do, so Rod just has to go flat out! In second place is pre-season favourite Tony Wiltshire from Newton Abbott who scored the maximum 10 points in the first two rounds but crashed out in practice in his 2.5 Gould GR55 in round 3. But if Tony can win this final round then he will be the 2012 Top Ten Challenge winner. Also in the hunt are Terry Graves from Launceston in his 3.5 Gould GR37 who could top the table if he wins this event outright and Wiltshire finishes third or lower on the day. And should James Blackmore from Ropley near Winchester win on the day in his 1.6 OMS 25, and Wiltshire and Graves are third or lower, then he could take the Challenge!

The TR Cars class gets the event into gear, and Aprils’ winner Roderick Warner from Mapledurwell must start out as the favourite in his 3.5 Triumph TR7 V8. Nick Smith from Salisbury finished second in his TR6 in April – can he get on terms with the potent V8s though?

The Austin Healey ‘Big Healey and Warwick Cars’ class sees yet more classic British sports cars in action. April’s winner John Tewson from Leicester goes again in his 3.0 Austin Healey100/6. And in the ‘Sprites’ class Paul Baker from Holmwood won the class in April and once again runs in his 1.4 Sebring Sprite.

Trevor Shortt from Bramhall won the class for Reliant Scimitars and Sabres when they visited Gurston last September so he starts as the favourite in his 3.0 Scimitar GT.

In the first of the Gurston Championship classes for roadgoing series production cars up to 2000cc the man on form is Miles Horne from Fordingbridge in his 2.0 Peugeot 306. But he will have to fend off Jules Freeman from Eastleigh in his 2.0 Renault Clio 172 Cup and Adrian Cornwell from Wells in his 2.0 Honda S2000, both these drivers capable of fast times. Making her competition debut at Gurston is Hannah Wiltshire from Ogwell in her 2.0 Renault Clio 172 Cup, Hannah being the daughter of Top Ten Challenge contender Tony Wiltshire. (Ps- someone’s gonna kill you Simon – Ed).

In the over 2000cc roadgoing series production class Simon Neve from Yeovil runs in his 2.3 Mitsubishi Evo 6 and looks set to win the championship class although Stapleford’s Stephen Moore in his 2.0 Evo 6 could challenge for the win on the day.

Championship leader Simon Thornley from Redditch must start as favourite to win the roadgoing specialist production class in his 1.9 Westfield, and setting a time like the one he set in July would effectively wrap up the title. Piers Thynne from Hartley Wintney runs his increasingly rapid turbocharged 1.3 Westfield Megabusa, and could be a future force in this class.

Simon Purcell from Sherborne has gone well in his supercharged 1.4 Lotus Exige this year and looks certain to win the championship class here. But can he win the up to 2000cc modified limited production marque sports car class on the day again against former triple Gurston champion Steve Butts from Abingdon in his supercharged and turbocharged 1.4 Lotus Elise?

In the over 2000cc marque sports car class Graham Beale from Basingstoke has become the new yardstick this year in his turbocharged 2.0 Ginetta G33. Salisbury’s Steve Holley (5.2 TVR Griffith) will be doing his utmost to get ahead of Bob Mortimer from Mudford again (2.7 Porsche 911) to grab second on the day and in the class championship.

Jim White from Southampton has been the man to beat in the up to 1400cc modified series production class this year in his 1.4 Mini Clubman, and Jim will be aiming to hang on to his third overall in the championship. Look out too for his son Steve White from Southampton sharing the car again at this event, and another father and son partnership Phil and Darren Eaton from Poole who have both been getting faster this year – especially son Darren!

Jim White

Jim White will be trying everything to claim Neal Masters’ class record


Outgoing Gurston champion Paul Webster from Fareham will run his New Techniques 1.9 Mazda MX5 in the up to 2000cc modified series production class and should be on the for class win on the day.

In the over 2000cc modified series production class, championship contender Roy Barker from Stockbridge looks the odds-on favourite for the class win in his 2.3t Mitsubishi Evo 5. Roy carved half a second off the class record in July, but will need to repeat that time to maximise his chances of snatching the Gurston Championship.

The up to 2000cc modified specialist production class looks like it will go to Ritchie Gatt from Faygate in his 2.0 Westfield but last time out he was beaten by the hard trying Geoff Blake from Weymouth in the similar car he shares with his father Graham.

Former Gurston champ Mike Rudge from Cwmbran will start favourite in the over 2000cc modified specialist production class in his 2.3 Westfield but can he do enough to grab a top three spot in the overall championship? It looks possible…

The Historically Interesting Cars class sees an even more diverse mix of machinery than usual, with cars ranging from a Jaguar ‘C’ Type to a Palliser Formula 3 car. But as ever, Salisbury’s Chris Cannell will be looking for the win in his 1.7 St Bruno Roughcutter in the hope of a top three championship finish.

The up to 2000cc sports libre class has been hard fought this season, and Keith Diggle from Aldershot will be looking for the class win on the day and in the championship in his superb 2.0 WEV HCS. But Gurston’s long-time championship sponsor Jonathan Gates from Brockenhurst will be charging again in his 1.6 Force LM and hoping to topple Keith Diggle! Look out too for occasional Gurston visitor Ashley Ward from Hook in his 2.0 Mallock Mk 18.

In the over 2000cc sports libre class Colin Pook from Dorchester shares the 5.0 Pilbeam MP43 with close neighbour Hayley Thorne, and Sue Hayes from Salisbury runs in her 2.6 Force SR8. With the ladies setting personal bests this season, it’s anyone’s guess who could win here.

There’s a big class of 500cc racing cars to 500 Owners Association Rules and these cars are always entertaining to watch. Mark Riley from Frome is the pre-race favourite here in his Creamer Jap.

In the up to 600cc racing car class former Force constructor Bill Chaplin from Bridgwater and Lloyd Klimpke from Brecon share one of Bill’s own creations, the Force DS 600. It could be an interesting battle…

The 1100cc racing car class ought to go the way of Calum Kemp from Woking in his 1.1 OMS PR, Calum having been consistently quick this season.

The up to 1600cc racing car class is an absolute cracker! James Blackmore from Ropley near Winchester will probably start as the favourite for the class win in his 1.6 OMS 25, both on the day and in the championship. But Peter D. Smith from Wantage has been close behind in his 1.6 Force and could turn the tables here. Look out too for Ed Hollier from Ottery St Mary in his bike engined 1.6 Pilbeam MP62, and two ‘old faces’, former Gurston and national front runner Phil Cooke from Cricklade in a 1.3 Force PC and former Gurston Top Ten Challenge winner Rodney Eyles from Taunton, also in a 1.3 Force PC.

The entry is fittingly rounded off by the very fastest machinery, and Tony Wiltshire from Newton Abbott will be in determined mood in the 2.5 Gould GR55 after his damaging practice ‘off’ in July. But Terry Graves from Launceston will be pushing hard in the 3.5 Gould GR37, as will Rodney Thorne from Dorchester in his 3.5 Pilbeam MP58. And look out for the Jaguar-engined Pilbeam MP58 of Paul Crute from Saltash making his first trip with the car to Gurston. Both the MP58s running at this event were formerly owned by legendary multiple British Hillclimb Champion Roy Lane!

Terry Graves Gould GR37

Terry Graves will unleash Cosworth DFR F1 power at Gurston Down


It’s all to play for! Competition starts at around 1300 with practice from 0830.

Thanks as always Simon, it should be a great event, we will be tweeting updates from the event on Sunday.

Speak Your Mind