Party in the Park!

The final event of the 2014 British Hillclimb Championship season took place at Loton Park in Shropshire at the weekend and provided everything that is good about our wonderful sport.

Loton Park Hillclimb

A healthy crowd enjoyed a great day at Loton Park.

 

A popular double winner, a fond farewell, a recently crowned champion, some hot competition, cracking commentary, relatively little damage and a very large & enthusiastic crowd combined to provide a real festival atmosphere both in the paddock and in the spectator areas.

The big news of the day involved the Moran family. With Scott Moran returning to his local hill with his fifth British title in the bag and Roger competing in his final top-line hillclimb event after 21 years at the very top of the sport there really was something to celebrate in the team’s paddock spot.

It was great to see Scottish charger Wallace Menzies, who suffered his second big off of the season at Doune last weekend, back in the cockpit again as he shared Will Hall’s Force-Nissan for the weekend. Unfortunately the other top-line DJ driver Alex Summers suffered troubles on Saturday morning when his Firehawk’s gearbox let go at the top of the hill during first practice, Alex quickly swapped to drive the family Force PT in the 1100cc class alongside Brother Felix.

The first Run Off saw a very tight scrap at the top as the form four in the championship battled for the win. Menzies did great job of warming the tyres for his new team mate Hall, running first a high 46s and an eventual seventh was a great effort in the unfamiliar car. Moran Snr was next up and set the early pace with a mid 45s to move ahead of John Bradburn in their personal scrap for 8th in the championship. Having qualified 8th, Midlands veteran Deryk Young blasted the methanol-fuelled Gould-Judd into the top five, splitting the two early runners. Then the big-hitters rolled out. The Champ had qualified 4th, but he dug deep and found over a second on his Q time and took the lead with three to go. Jos Goodyear was next with the wee Raptor, and an astonishing attack on the middle section of the hill saw the clocks stop on 44.19s, we had another leader. The Powertec V8 in Trevor Willis’ OMS 28 is a touch outgunned these days, but nobody had told scary Trev! He pushed so hard, but even the talents of the 2012 BHC Champ could only manage fourth at the finish. Next came top qualifier Hall with the revitalised Force WH. With the diffused exhaust note echoing off of the Shropshire shrubbery, a steady but precise approach to Triangle and Keepers ensured a good launch onto the Cedar Straight. Will’s commitment up the twisting, bumpy ‘straight’ was spectacular, but he kept it together at the top and took .18s out of Goodyear’s time to take his fourth win of the year.

 

After a lunch break which saw a very nice presentation to retiring 1997 BHC title winner Roger Moran, the big boys rolled for the final Top 12 Run Off of the year…

The remaining championship battles to be decided in this final shootout were for 4th & 5th place between Goodyear and the non-qualifying Summers and for 6th & 7th between Menzies and Tommy New. Just 4/100ths of a second separated the latter two as Menzies pipped his rival to 6th place, but the no-score at Doune a couple of weeks ago cost the Scot dearly and he had to settle for 7th overall as a delighted New nailed his best ever BHC finish. Young went slower than he had in the morning, but improved his position to fifth. Roger Moran said he felt under pressure not to do anything too daft after all the attention at lunchtime, but he was pleased with a mid-45s for his last blast in the all-conquering GR61X, and managed a controlled tail slide out of Triangle to entertain the large audience who clapped him all the way back down the hill after his run. Willis was trying hard as always, but the long season had taken its toll on the OMS’s hard-worked Hewland gearbox, a failure almost in sight of the finish meant a no-score. Jos Goodyear was next up, but all was not well in the Raptor camp. Following the opening Run Off, the highly strung little Hayabusa unit was struggling, with a nasty noise coming from the supercharger drive. Despite only needing 4 points to steal the position Summers’ had held for most of the year, driving for points isn’t Jos’ style. He went for it, but without using all of the revs he normally would. Third place was the result, and ‘number four’ will be on the nose of the Raptor in 2015. The newly crowned champion was next, and he took the lead with a low 44s, but felt that it wouldn’t be enough to deny top qualifier Hall. He was right as a controlled, but devastatingly fast run from the Black Country Factory Manager (#Walderizer!) all-but matched his outright pace from the morning. Team Vanity Hall had their second double victory of the year, a great way for the team to end the season where Will has proved beyond doubt that he is one of the very best drivers in the series.

 

Moving through the program, there were some highly entertaining battles in the classes as drivers jostled for end of season championship positions. Class B of the Midland series is always a hard fought contest, and for once this year the Warbys had things all their own way with the mightily powerful DTA Caterham. Dave Warby took the lead at the start of the second runs, but Father Allan charged through to deny his offspring the win by just 6/100ths. The ‘scooter’-powered (according to Warby) Caterham of Simon Jenks was quick enough to have won the class based on his practice pace, but a big spin on Saturday was followed by an off at Fallow when it counted. The immaculate ex. Will Hall (well, some of it was Will’s) Westfield of Essex Copper Steve Garner was third ahead of former single-seater team mates Ash Mason & Steve Day and visiting Gurston regular Piers Thynne.

There was no surprise in the result of the 2-litre Mod Prod class as Keith Murray smashed the opposition, taking half a second off of his own record and beating Hagley Hooligan Ralph Pinder by over three seconds in the amazing Dialynx Audi 80 Quattro.

The over 2-litre class saw the Midland Championship decided as Mike Turpin continued his domination of this class. A class win, beating Welsh Wizard Eynon Price by over a second and a half, and a second straight MHC title were the result for the impressive supercharged VX220.

Many times Midland title winner Rob Stevens was a little bit away from his record, but his performance convinced him that there is a 47s run in the car if only he can find it! The Force SR4 saw off the very different Force LM of championship sponsor Graham Wynn, who narrowly beat Stevens’ co-driver Adrian Britnell into third place. The homebrewed Mitsubishi Evo powered space frame Mini of Allan McDonald saw off some very exotic kit to claim fourth in the class despite blowing an intercooler pipe off on the final run.

As always at MHC events these days, there was a massive dust-up amongst the enormous 1100cc Racing Car class. Chris Aspinall has been the quickest of the Empire Wraith drivers all year and he led the way in practice as expected. By Sunday morning however, Alex Summers was really getting to grips with the Force PT he transferred to and the multiple Run Off winner blasted to the head of the class, where he would stay. The impressive OMS 28 of Simon Andrews came through the field to claim second place as Aspinall overdrove the Empire aero car and slipped to third. Debbie Dunbar set an impressive PB to claim fourth ahead of the similar Force-Suzukis of Rob Capper and Felix Summers.

 

What an amazing way to end the British and Midland Championship seasons, now we all have a few months to recover before we get to do it all over again in 2015… See ya there!

Comments

  1. Our Correspondent says:

    Actually it’s ‘no nonsense Black Country factory manager’.

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