Gurston Shifts in to Fifth Gear

The first event at Gurston Down this season took place yesterday. Hill veteran John Forsyth took FTD with his Pilbeam-DFR MP58 but most of the spectators attention was focused on Fifth Gear presenters Tiff Needell and Jonathan Smith. The Channel 5 show was filming at Gurston for a feature on the Ariel Atom V8 which is due to air next month.

Former Formula 1 driver Needell and his considerably less experienced colleague started very tentitively but built their speed up during the day, helped no doubt by some lunchtime ‘filming runs’ !!

As well as the excitement generated by the famous duo, the event also saw the competition debut of a few new cars, car-engine combinations and car-driver combinations. Here is a quick run through the new pairings:

- Having shaken the car down at the Gurston test a fortnight ago, Gurston regular Andy McBeath was out in his new OMS 25. The replacement for Andy’s previous Hornet is powered by a supercharged 1400cc Suzuki engine (which puts it in the 2-Litre class).

- Another car run at the test day was the second Force LMP sport-racer to roll out of Ian Dayson’s workshops. The car was back yesterday in the hands of owners Peter Sexton and Jonathan Gates. Gearshift problems affected the car in practise and was unfortunately withdrawn in the afternoon with Peter & Jonathan not wanting to risk engine damage.

- Former Gurston Down hill champion Steve Butts was back in his familiar green Lotus Elise, though this time with more power. After parting company with his exhaust in first practise, he recovered to set promising times in the afternoon.

- Rodney Thorne and co-driver Colin Pook were out for the first in their recently acquired Pilbeam-Judd MP58. They steadily improved through the day and Rodney eventually set 2nd FTD behind Forsyth.

- Former Radical sportscar driver Ian Cameron returned to his single-seater roots at Gurston with his first run out in his newly bought OMS Hornet. The suzuki-powered car will run in the 1600cc class, the very class in which Cameron made his name in hillclimbing in Ralt & Pilbeam chassis in the early 90s.

- Gurston Competitions Secretary (and former Dallara driver) Paul Webster was back out again in his Mazda MX5 ‘Stripey’. This year though the car packs a lot more punch. Tom New at New Techniques has spent the winter fettling the engine of the hair-dressers favourite and if the rorty exhaust note is anything to go on, then it should be much quicker this season.

It was a great start to the season at the Wiltshire hill, and the perfect build-up to Sunday’s Gurston Championship round.


  1. [...] appeared at Gurston Down’s opening hillclimb of the year in a V8 Ariel Atom (see our earlier news story). Tonights episode of the Channel 5 TV show features the footage recorded at Gurston. The show will [...]

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