Midsummer Speed Fest at Gurston

As well as events at Doune and Cultra at the weekend, there was also pair of one day club events at the ever popular Gurston Down Hillclimb in Wiltshire.

Nik Mann Mannic Beattie

The crowd pleasing Mannic-Beattie was hustled to FTD on both days by creater Nik Mann.


Saturday’s event was a round of the Association of South West Motor Clubs Hillclimb Championship, whereas Sunday featured the BARC South West Centre’s own Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship.

Gurston’s Press Officer Simon McBeath has kindly sent us a thorough report on the events of the weekend.
In brief

A cracking weekend’s motorsport action in sizzling weather was enjoyed by big crowds as The Spire FM Midsummer Speed Fest, featuring the Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend, filled two packed days of hot competition at Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb, Broad Chalke, near Salisbury, over the weekend of June 21st and 22nd.

On Sunday the Earl of Pembroke entered the Chairman’s Invitation class in his superb Honda S2000 and demonstrated his talent behind the wheel as he dipped below 40 seconds on his first timed run to go almost a second faster than top touring car ace Matt Neal had achieved in his similarly powered Honda Jazz in April. Lord Pembroke, beaming broadly after his competition runs, was later seen enjoying the race driving simulator brought along to the event by Old Sarum-based Ultimate Race Car Experience.

Nic Mann set Best Time of the Day’ (BTD) on both days in his amazing 1.7 litre turbocharged Mannic Beattie, the potent four wheel drive machine going sub 29 seconds on Saturday.

Simon Purcell retained his overall lead of the Gates of Brockenhurst Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship with another comfortable class win in his 1.4 litre supercharged Lotus Exige. Having shared the series lead after round 1 in April, Purcell now sits alone atop the table after three rounds.

Simon Purcell Lotus Exige

Simon Purcell is looking good for the Gurston Championship so far in 2014.


In the BARC (SW) Top Ten Challenge Chris Cannell took over the lead after Sunday’s third round, setting second quickest time of the day among the registered contenders on both days in his twin-engined 2.6 Force SR8 sports racer.

Bike BTD went to Sam Matthewman on the big Suzuki TL on both days, but not without a fight, especially on Sunday as Glyn Poole and Paul Jeffrey were just hundredths behind. Nevertheless Matthewman took the bike Run Off too to cap a fine weekend all round.

Special mention goes to Terry Martin and passenger Kelly Birkett who did the double in the sidecar class on the Aprilia outfit, Terry celebrating his 70th birthday in fine style, as well as jogging up the hill on Saturday evening!
Full details

A busy schedule got into gear with the SBD Championship class for road legal cars which produced the weekend’s first class record as William Hunt carved nearly six tenths off the old mark in his 2.0t Ford Sierra. Derek Jones was second, only three hundredths away from the previous record in his 3.2 BMW Z3M Coupe.

In the ASWMC road legal class Steve Clarke took his rapid 2.5t Subaru Impreza to the expected win with just one run.

Porsche class winner Paul Howells also had to make do with just his first run time but not through choice as a high speed spin second time up in the 3.0 911 RSR saw him reverse up the escape road at Karousel! Graham Rose, fifteen hundredths behind at half time, couldn’t take advantage though and finished second.

Jeff Allan’s 3.6 TVR T350C was just too potent for the rest in the Service Hydraulics speed championship class, and too tidy and consistent runs did the job.

Sunday’s invitation classes opened with Morgan Cars, and recent Gurston School graduate Alan Foster put his lessons – and the ponies under the bonnet of his Morgan +8 – to good use to take the win here.

The Bugatti Owners Club Championship was an absolute corker, as first the current class record holder Andy Tippett (1.6 Russell Alexis FF) dipped under the record, followed immediately by Nick Stephens (1.6 Lotus 51b) just three hundredths adrift and also under the old record. Then as Tippett and Stephens slowed on their second runs, Martin Jones (1.6 Lotus 51a) carved eight tenths off his first run time to steal the win by three hundredths from Tippett and reset the new record yet again!

The Ferrari Cars class looked like it might go the way of the potent 430 Scuderia of class record holder John Marshall, but Richard Prior’s progress through the complex in his F355 GTB put him ahead on each run and he won from Marshal by 16 hundredths.

Onto the ‘regular’ Gurston Championship classes then, and on Saturday a strong contingent of ASWMC drivers saw the gold and silver medals in the up to 2000cc roadgoing series production class head southwest as Martin Ellis (1.8 Ford Escort Mk 2) won from Jon Longmead’s superb 1.8 Lotus Elan by just three tenths, these two in the 38s and the only drivers on the day below 40 seconds in a well-supported class. On Sunday the locals came to the fore as seasonal newcomer Adam Greenen once again kept it tidier than brother Andy to take the win in their 2.0 Honda Civic Type R, less than half a second away from the class record. Former record holder Ian Chard put the family Mazda MX5 into second place just one hundredth ahead of Andy Greenen, although the Chards had a lively time of it at Karousel, current class record holder Karl unable to recover from a first run misdemeanour.

The over 2000cc roadgoing series production class produced a good battle over the weekend, with honours even as Simon Neve (2.3t Mitsubishi Evo 6) winning on Saturday by two tenths from Stephen Moore (2.0t Evo 6), the latter turning the tables with a storming second climb on Sunday to go sub-34 and win by seven tenths.

Piers Thynne (1.3t Westfield Megabusa) gave himself a hard time in the roadgoing specialist class on both days yet took the double win with solid recovery drives each time. On Saturday a wayward run through Karousel lost several seconds while on Sunday he was another to take to the infield before Karousel. On Saturday Chris Howard-Harris (1.8 Caterham Superlight) held off Martin Watson (2.0 Westfield SEiW) by a quarter of a second for second in class, and Watson got his revenge on Sunday by one hundredth!

Simon Purcell continued his winning ways in the up to 2000cc marque sports car class, his times coming down impressively over the weekend in the 1.4 supercharged Lotus Exige as he took sole lead of the Gurston Championship at this stage. Behind Purcell, Steph Limb won the daughter versus mum battle in Molly the MGF each day.

The over 2000cc marque sports car class produced a close fight on Saturday with some fast and consistent running at the front, and Graham Beale (2.0t Ginetta G33) just held off the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Tim Painter by three hundredths. Sadly the Porsche retired on Sunday with clutch problems leaving Beale on his own, but he closed to within three hundredths of the class record to set the joint highest championship score on the day and of the weekend. And of those on the same high score, he was closest to his class record, which earned him the Tony Marsh Trophy.

Graham Beale Ginetta G33

Graham Beale approached one of the oldest records in British Hillclimbing on Sunday with his Ginetta G33.


The up to 1400cc modified series production class produced another decent battle as Neil Turner (eight valve 1.4 Mini Cooper ‘S’) attempted to catch the high revving and curiously handling sixteen valve 1.4 Austin Mini Clubman of class record holder Jim White. But White always had the upper hand, winning by 36 hundredths on Saturday and dipping into the 35s to win by just over half a second on Sunday.

The up to 2000cc modified series production class should have produced a good weekend for Colin Satchell and Paul Drowne in their rapid Peugeot 205 GTi, and Saturday did indeed see Satchell bag the win (same old pun again…) from co-driver Drowne. But gremlins intervened on Sunday and prevented further running. This left Kevin and Ian Plummer (1.6 Opel Corsa) and Tony Archer (1.4t Renault 5 Turbo) to fight for the top spot, and Kevin Plummer held off his co-pilot by just under half a second to win.

There were changing fortunes and another good battle in the combined over 2000cc modified series production class too with the returning Roy Barker taking the win on Saturday in his Evo 5 from Adrian Flagg’s 2.0 Impreza STi. But with Barker slowing a little and Flagg absolutely flying (yet another old pun…) the verdict was overturned on Sunday with Flagg winning by a tenth.

The combined modified specialist production class produced the expected wins each day for the irrepressible Mike Rudge (2.3 Westfield SEi) ahead of Ritchie Gatt’s 2.0 litre SEiW. Rudge nudged close to his record again, just 19 hundredths away in the end, his astounding pace earning a much deserved third place in the Top Ten Challenge after round 3!

Hugh Kemp’s 1.6 Palliser WDF3 took a comfortable win ahead of Mike Broome’s considerably less powerful 1.6 Elden Formula Ford on Saturday, but the margin was reduced on Sunday as Richard George closed in with the gorgeous 2.0 Chevron B19. Nevertheless it was Kemp’s double victory.

Defending Gurston Champion Mark Mortimer brought out the trusty 2.0 Mallock Mk 18B again and was another double winner, his times dropping sub-34 on Sunday.

The up to 2000cc sports libre class once more saw honours even between Peter Sexton and Gurston championship sponsor Jonathan Gates in their shared 1.3 supercharged Force LM, with Sexton winning by eight tenths on Saturday and Gates going sub-30 to win by half a second on Sunday. A broken chain prevented a Sexton fight back on Sunday’s second climbs, leaving Gates as Sunday’s maximum points scorer in the Top Ten Challenge. Behind these two, Matt Carter’s speed in the 1.3 Radical PR6 was great to watch. Without his power deficit he would certainly have challenged for the win.

Power deficit was certainly not on Nic Mann’s mind as the awesome Mannic Beattie propelled him to a brace of BTDs and a sub-29 second run on Saturday (and in Sunday practice). Aero set up and a very clever exhaust-blown diffuser also enabled finish line speeds considerably higher than Mann had previously been able to achieve. So look out for the car’s progress in the July and August meetings! Chris Cannell battled bravely in the Force SR8 behind Mann and set sub 29 second times each day to move into the lead of the Top Ten Challenge. Keith Diggle finished third each day, still looking for the elusive sub-30 second time in the 2.2 WEV HCS, and Sue Hayes was on a charge too, setting a 31.31s PB in the Force SR8 on Sunday.

Chris Cannell Force SR8

Chris Cannell pressing on with the trusty Force SR8 whilst waiting for his new Empire Sports Car.


Onto the single seaters, and Saturday’s 500 Owners class was a family affair with Andrew Forsyth getting the verdict over dad John in the Alfa Dana. On Sunday a well-supported class saw Nicholas Reynolds win in his Cooper Mk 9 from the Andrew and John Forsyth, the Cooper looking to have a slight edge on power.

The 1100cc racing cars entertained, and on Saturday Bradley Hobday hurtled his 1.0 Jedi Mk 4 to the win by two tenths from James Moore’s 1.1 OMS 2000M, the pair both below 32 seconds. Sunday’s times were a little slower,and with Bradley Hobday not appearing it was John Oxborrow who came through to win this time in his 1.0 OX7, Calum Kemp taking second in the 1.1 OMS PR from James Moore, the top five covered by just six tenths.

In the Formula Ford class Andrew Abbey saw off his owner/co-driver by a comfortable margin, but sadly on Sunday a missed shift down the hill saw Roger Labbett retire the car with a poorly sounding engine.

Brian Moody celebrated his birthday (in the week before the event) in fine style with a brace of wins in the 1.6 Ralt RT3 over son Adrian, Brian going sub-34 seconds on Sunday. Good to see the 1.6 GRD of John Hewett and Mat Morrison join in here too.

The Force was strong in Saturday’s racing cars up to 1600cc class, as Simon Clemow’s 1.4 Force PT edged out Neil Coles’ 1.3 OMS CF04 by half a second. On Sunday with Clemow absent Coles came through to win with a time that would also have won on Saturday.  Crucial absentees in the results here were Peter D. Smith and Richard Gaylard in their Force, Peter having set double BTD back in April and also leading the Top Ten Challenge prior to the June weekend. Not entered on Saturday, their Sunday event stopped before it had even started when a failed front wing mounting was discovered.

Saturday’s up to 2000cc racing car class saw Andy McBeath take the win on the strength of his first run in the 1.3 supercharged OMS 25 with a maximum Top Ten Challenge points earning 29.61 effort for second BTD. Unfortunately his engine let go in a big way in Hollow second time up putting paid to his weekend. Chris Guille, a quarter of a second adrift at half time, wisely scratched his second run, which would not have been as quick given the oil treatment powder in the Karousel braking area. He won the class with a storming flat-through-Hollow second run on Sunday.

The bikes and riders entertained in inimitable and spectacular fashion as ever. James Gibson did the weekend double in the 250cc class on his Honda. Glyn Poole ran in the 350 class on Saturday on his Honda and won there though on Sunday normality resumed here and Tony Price took the win on his Yahama. Richard Smith topped the 500 class on Saturday just 23 hundredths ahead of Chris Keates. On Sunday Glyn Poole fielded his 500 Honda and won the class with second BTD in the class runs. Tom Short’s first run on the Honda CRF was good for the 750 class win just twelve hundredths clear of Tommy Hodges on his Team GV CR. On Sunday Paul Jeffrey’s Honda CR stepped the pace up a gear for the win. The 1300 class always looked like going Sam Matthewman’s way on the big Suzuki TL, but Paul Jeffrey pushed him hard on Saturday on his equally big KTM RC8R. And Terry Martin and daughter Kelly Birkett celebrated dad’s 70th in the best possible way with a double class win on their Aprilia outfit.

Big bangers have overcome the 'crossers on the power hills in recent years, Sam Matthewman did the business with his Aprillia on Sunday.

Big bangers have overcome the ‘crossers on the power hills in recent years, Sam Matthewman did the business with his Aprillia on Sunday.


Sunday’s bike Top Ten Run Off produced some blistering runs and some tightly bunched times. Glyn Poole slipped back a bit from his earlier 32 second class run to finish third. Paul Jeffrey also slowed a tad relative to his class winning time but finished second, three tenths ahead of Poole. But that was all academic as Sam Matthewman saved his best until the very last run of the weekend to win and set bike BTD, a third of a second clear of Jeffrey.

Detailed results can be found by clicking here.

Thanks as always for this fantastic report Simon, Sunday was a great fun event and it sounds like Saturday was just as good!

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