Spectacular Shelsley

The British Hillclimb Championship circus assembled in rural Worcester at the weekend for one of the blue riband events on the calendar at Shelsley Walsh hillclimb.

Tom New Gould GR55

Tommy New was a popular winner of the 2nd Run Off.

 

As always these days, The World Famous venue was in fantastic condition, and the usual large crowd witnessed a day of fantastic competition as well as a few unscheduled incidents and accidents.

Looking at the positives from the event, there was a stunningly close battle for the win in the opening Run Off of the day, and a battle which kept the assembled throng in the paddock absolutely enthralled.

2012 BHC winner Trevor Willis always struggles at this absolute power hill with his motorcycle-based Powertec V8 power plant not quite producing the numbers that the F1 & Champ Car derived motors can muster. This lack of power was countered by a phenomenal assault on the corners on the lower part of the hill and a measured approach to the tricky Esses complex. The former champ claimed the first OMS Shelsley Run Off win in dry conditions at this level.

After showing stunning pace of the reconfigured car’s seasonal debut at Gurston Down a week ago, much was expected of 1600cc record holder Jos Goodyear on his 2000cc class debut at the hill. Expectations were high, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted the pace he demonstrated straight out of the box. Immense pace up the chutes and huge, but controlled corner speeds even left car-builder Graeme Wight Jnr wondering just what the car can achieve when it has a proper set-up on it. A new class record, third in qually and second behind Willis with points at stake was the result.

 

A rejuvenated Will Hall, who had replaced the injectors in the unique to the hills Nissan V6 motor in the week since Gurston, qualified fastest, and challenged hard for the win but was forced (sorry, bad pun!) to settle for third despite taking a chunk off of his PB.

Reigning Champion and Shelsley master Scott Moran was somewhat out of sorts over the weekend in the ultra-successful GR61X Gould. After curing a damper issue which had affected the car for Gurston last week, this time it was a suspected fuelling issue which proved a distraction. Scott felt that there was an intermittent fault somewhere which was costing horsepower, and as we know horsepower is your friend at this very steep and high-speed venue. Fourth place in qually was matched in the shootout, but he must’ve hoped for more.

Scotsman Wallace Menzies was looking to back up his win at Gurston last week, but despite his usual immense speed off the start and over the finish, he was losing time in the middle section from Crossing to the end of the Esses. The pace from the others was so hot that even dipping into the 23s was only good enough for a slightly frustrating fifth place finish.

 

Despite suggestions from with his family after Harewood that he should retire from hillclimbing(!) Tom New had a good Gurston weekend and was looking to build on that. A sensible, but committed run was exactly what was needed and Tom opened his account for the day with sixth place, the big Judd EV power plant sounding great as it surged up the finishing straight.

A close battle for the remaining points then followed as John Bradburn, Alex Summers, Roger Moran and Alastair Crawford were separated by just over a third of a second. ‘Legend’ Bradburn blasted the mighty V8 Gould up the shutes to claim seventh ahead of a very frustrated Summers. The young local was right on the pace on the lower section of the hill as he tried to get revenge on Jos Goodyear for taking his class record away, but the huge crowd in the paddock knew that it wasn’t on when we heard the DJ’s clutch slipping as it charged up the finish straight. Moran and Crawford had a close scrap for eighth, which ended in Roger’s favour, but Crawford was still chuffed with his best ever Shelsley result.

Deryk Young had suffered from suspected diff troubles with the GR51B Gould all weekend, and they struck again when the points were at stake, causing a DNF for the experienced local. Rich Spedding hustled the little Force into the Run Off and was pushing so hard through the bends. He tried his best, but was 27mph down on the best at Bottom Ess and nearly 40mph down over the finish, eleventh was a good reward considering.

 

The final Run Off of the day was a pretty subdued affair as the paddock waited for news of Wallace Menzies following his well-publicised moment in qualifying (see separate story). A very popular winner cheered everyone up no end though!

Turbocharged Dave Uren took Menzies place in the second stanza and had a close battle with the similar chassis of former class-mate Spedding for the final point, the duo were separated by just one hundredth as Spedding missed out on a point again.

 

Battle raged on between Crawford and Moran Snr and again Roger came out on top as his bigger NicMac motor made the difference, but they were both usurped by a fired-up Deryk Young. With the diff sorted, the Midlands stalwart put in a smooth run for an eventual seventh place.

In a repeat of the first runs, Summers and Bradburn were trading blows again. The slipping clutch on the little DJ made the difference though, and the grunt of Bradburn’s HB overcame Smmers’ immense corner speed.

With the V6 motor growling away through the blown diffuser, Hall couldn’t quite back-up his earlier podium, but a fourth place finish moved him into a championship fourth place.

 

After a disappointing qually run, admittedly after the long break for the Menzies off, Scott Moran ran early in the shoot-out but the four-time champ made up for it with his usual unflurried style, and held the lead with just three runners to go.

Tommy New then stepped forward and produced his fastest run of the day, when many others were just off of their best pace. The 23.55s run was only a 10th off of Tom’s 2010 PB and took the lead.

 

2012 champ Willis was fired up and looking for his first ever dry Shelsley double. He engaged the launch control and blasted the OMS off of the start and up towards Kennel Bend. That was about as far as he got though, as the Powertec V8s fuel pump shut down and the car rolled to a halt. Nil points for the man who had taken the championship lead before lunch.

So, star of the day Jos Goodyear would be last to run and would be the last to try to deny New his first win of the year. Despite water spraying from the breather due to a suspected head gasket issue, the amazing little Raptor 2 flew up the hill, but was just a little shy of optimum pace everywhere and had to settle for third.

One of the most popular drivers in the paddock had taken his first ever Run Off win at The World Famous venue, and had done it in front the whole New clan. Despite the dramatic events of the day, most spectators and competitors left the venue with a smile on their face.

The series moves on to Hagley’s Loton Park venue in Shropshire this weekend. Menzies will be absent as the Firestorm is refettled, but there should be others making their seasonal debut which should entertain the spectators on the banks…

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