Thrilling Gurston Finale in Prospect

One of the most popular championships in British Hillclimbing is the hotly contested Gurston Down single-venue series which runs at all of the non-BHC rounds at the Wiltshire hill.

Nic Mann Mannic-Beattie

Nic Mann is sure to entertain with the Mannic-Beattie (thanks to everleyphotography.co.uk)

 

As with all events at the BARC South West Centre’s farm venue, the club’s Press Officer Simon McBeath has kindly put together a comprehensive preview for us:

The Gates of Brockenhurst Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship finale is always a thrilling and nerve-wracking event for competitors and spectators alike, and this year will be no exception with the race to the top finely poised once again. A number of drivers are in with a mathematical chance of winning the Championship, but each will have to put up their best performance of the year to be in with a chance of the title! The permutations are somewhat involved, so here goes…!

With the best four scores from the five rounds to count, all the drivers entered have the opportunity to improve their current scores, and none more so than Mark Mortimer who scored very highly in his 2.0 litre Hillclimb Supersports Mallock Mk 18B in three out of the four events held so far but recorded a ‘Did Not Start’ (DNS) on June 23rd thanks to a sheared wheel stud that was beyond repair on the day. This sees Mark apparently languishing in 28th position overall on 64.50 points, but if he registers the same score on September 8th as the other three scores amassed so far he could well leapfrog into the top spot with 86.00 points!

Mark Mortimer Mallock Mk18

Mark Mortimer is in contention for the title with his Mallock (thanks to everleyphotography.co.uk)

 

At present Ritchie Gatt tops the table on 84.90 points in his 2.0 litre specialist production Westfield, ahead of former Gurston Champion Mike Rudge on 84.50 points in his 2.3 Westfield. Ritchie could improve his score if he wins his class by a good margin on the day, but unless he also beats his class record and collects the 1.00 bonus point for that, the most he could score is 85.79 points, which would just trail Mark Mortimer’s potential total! With no disrespect to Mark, who is a very rapid driver, the record in his class is extremely fast and, realistically, unlikely ever to be beaten, so the chances of him collecting a record-beating bonus point are negligible.

Meantime, Mike Rudge is the sole entrant in the over 2000cc modified specialist production class, which means he will get 20 points for recording a time plus potential bonus points if he gets close to his class record. In fact if he sets a time of 31.16 seconds or better he will collect 1.50 bonus points, which will put him exactly equal on points with Mark Mortimer’s potential tally! And Mike set a 31.04s time in July’s fourth round, so conditions permitting, this is possible… The first tie break clause (counting the fifth score) would then apply which would make Mike the champion as Mark failed to score in round 3 whereas Mike has scored in every round so far.

Currently third overall is Adrian Flagg on 84.34 points in his 2.0 turbocharged series production Subaru Impreza but he has not entered the final round. Behind him Stephen Moore is currently fourth on 83.58 points in his over 2000cc roadgoing series production Mitsubishi Evo 6 and he will have to win his class by a good margin and probably break his class record too to have a chance of a top three placing, but it is a possibility.

So it’s very much all to play for in the overall title race, and there are plenty of scores to be settled among the 18 championship classes that have been entered too.

Not all the positions have been settled in the BARC (SW) Gurston Down Top Ten Challenge either, and although we know that Ed Hollier (1.6 Pilbeam MP62) is the 2013 Challenge winner with a maximum 40 points from the first four rounds, it is possible he may bag yet another maximum score for a season’s clean sweep! Peter D. Smith (1.6 Force) is the 2013 runner-up, a position that cannot be improved upon or challenged by anyone now. But there is a potentially good battle in store for third overall between Richard Gaylard who shares the 1.6 Force with Peter D. Smith. Richard is on 26 points currently. Behind him in fourth is Gurston Championship sponsor Jonathan Gates in his 1.6 Force LM on 23 points. And in fifth is Keith Diggle in his 2.0 WEV HCS on 22 points. All these drivers could add to their scores, so be sure they’ll be going flat-out to beat each other!

Ed Hollier Pilbeam MP62

South West Star ‘Kimi’ Hollier will be hunting for FTD (thanks to everleyphotography.co.uk)

 

Any one of the Top Ten Challengers might set ‘BTD’ (Best Time of the Day) although Nic Mann has entered the incredible 1.7 turbocharged Mannic Beattie and is quite capable of overall victory on the day.

As well as the local Championship, which is fought out by mainly modern machinery, there will also be very well supported invitation classes for some classic cars too including Triumph TRs, Austin Healeys and historic 500cc racing cars.

The meeting will get underway with the special invitation classes, and the TRs take to the hill first. A select group of three drivers went sub-40 seconds at their last encounter in April, with father and son John and Jonathan Weedon taking their TR5 to the one-two, and Roderick Warner from Devon brought his TR7 V8 into third.

British classics abound again as the Austin Healey ‘Big Healey and Warwick Cars’ class appears next. John Tewson won this class in April in his 3 litre 100/6 and looks a likely favourite again.

Smaller and nimbler, the Austin Healey Sprites always entertain, and here Murray Wakeham got close to the class record in April in his 1.4 Sprite for the win. Can he get under the record to win this time?

The action then moves onto the Gurston Championship classes, beginning with the roadgoing series production cars up to 2000cc. Here the flying Karl Chard holds the record in the 1.8 Mazda MX5 he shares with his father Ian and these two will be the favourites for the top spots on the day. In the class championship David Newman currently holds the lead in his 1.8 MX5 but he will come under pressure from Miles Horne in his 2.0 Peugeot 306 S16.

In the roadgoing series production class over 2000cc Stephen Moore has already won the championship class in his 2.0t Mitsubishi Evo 6 but will be looking for the win on the day and the chance to improve his overall Championship position. Expect Simon Neve to be fast in his 2.3t Evo 6, and Lewis Fanner could do well in his 2.5t Subaru Impreza. It will also be good to see former Top Ten Challenge winner Basil Pitt make a Gurston return in a 1.6t Mini JCW Coupe.

Onto the big roadgoing specialist production class and here Steve Holland goes in his rapid 1.4 Caterham Hayabusa and will be chased hard by Martin Watson in his 2.0 Westfield SEi and Clive Skipper in his 1.7 Caterham. Steve Holland could potentially overhaul the points tally of the absent Piers Thynne and win the class Championship too.

Peter Ellens is another to make a welcome return to Gurston in his classic 1.6 Renault Alpine A110 in the up to 2000cc marque sports car class. Up against him are mother and daughter Dee Stapley and Steph Limb in their shared 1.8 MGF. Steph needs to beat her Mum by 1.25 seconds if she’s to steal the class Championship title from her!

In the over 2000cc marque sports car class battle will be re-joined again between Steve Holley in his 5.2 TVR Griffith and Graham Beale in his 2.0 litre turbocharged Ginetta G33. It’s 3-1 on wins to Beale so far, and he leads the class Championship, but don’t bet against Holley fighting back! Don’t discount the spectacular Bob Mortimer either in his 3.5 Porsche 911…

The modified series production class up to 1400cc has seen Neil Turner and his 1.4 Mini Cooper ‘S’ do most of the winning this season, and he leads the class Championship ahead of former Gurston Champion Derek Mullis in his Cooper ‘S’. Should Jim White and son Steve appear in their highly developed 1.4 Mini Clubman though, things might turn out differently on the day here.

Adam Walker has already won the class Championship in the up to 2000cc modified series production class in the 1.8 Peugeot 306 he shares with Justin Cross. But the non-registered Karl Stevens is likely to take the win on the day in his rapid 2.0 Ford Escort Mk 2

With class Champion Adrian Flagg absent from the over 2000cc modified series production class in this final event, Andy Trayner and Tim Clarke will field their awesome 2.1t Audi Quattro against Brendon Jones in his 2.0 litre supercharged Ford Escort RS2000 and Richard Hillyar in his 2.0 litre turbocharged Renault 21.

Mike Butler is the sole runner in the over 2000cc modified series production sports car class but it will be good to see him run his 2.0 turbocharged Toyota Celica GT4 again.

The current overall Gurston Championship leader Ritchie Gatt runs his 2.0 Westfield SEiW in the up to 2000cc modified specialist production class and he will be aiming for the win and the biggest winning margin possible in order to hold onto a top three position in the final standings. And that could be first, second or third, depending on what the other title contenders do on the day! Also going in this class are father and son Graham and Neal Masters, still building speed in their recently acquired 2.0 Westfield SEi.

Championship hopeful Mike Rudge is the sole runner in the over 2000cc modified specialist production class in his rapid 2.3 Westfield SEi, and Mike will be as spectacular to watch as ever as he goes for the class win, but also, possibly, his second Gurston Championship title.

The Historically Interesting class brings together some lovely machinery as always and perhaps the rarest at this meeting will be the immaculate ex-Jo Siffert 2.0 litre Chevron B19 of father and daughter Richard and Amanda George. Could Hugh Kemp get the win though in the 1.6 Palliser WDF3?

Richard George Chevron B19

Richard George is bringing his stunning Chevron B19 to Gurston (thanks to everleyphotography.co.uk)

 

The other main Championship challenger Mark Mortimer goes in the Hillclimb Supersports class in his 2.0 Mallock Mk 18B, and if Mark beats class mate Derek Harris (1.7 Mallock Mk 17B) by more than 1.5 seconds, which he has managed each time he has run so far this season, then he will certainly put himself in contention for the overall title.

The up to 2000cc sports libre class is one of the tightest fought classes in the championship, and is now a straight fight between arch but friendly rivals Jonathan Gates (1.6 Force LM) and Keith Diggle (2.0 WEV HCS). Gates leads by 0.38 points, meaning Diggle must beat him by more than 0.38 seconds to take the class Championship.

Chris Cannell and Sue Hayes are already sure of a class Championship one-two in the over 2000cc sports libre class in their shared 2.6 Force SR8, but that won’t stop them from giving their all in this final round. They’ll have to if they want to win the class on the day because the non-registered Nic Mann has entered his astonishing 1.7 turbocharged Mannic Beattie. This car must not be missed, so if for no other reason, make sure you’re at Gurston Down on September 8th to watch – and listen to – this technological marvel! Nic is also a serious contender for Best Time of the Day.

A very well supported class of 500 Owners Association historic racing cars takes to the hill next, and Mark Riley looks like the favourite for the win in his Creamer Jap. Also going here are father and son John and Andy Forsyth in their Alfa Dana.

A battle just as tight as that in the up to 2000cc sports libre class will take place in the up to 1100cc racing car class, where Calum Kemp (1.1 OMS PR) leads James Moore (1.1 OMS 2000M) by 0.38 points. Thus, Moore will need to beat Kemp by 0.39 seconds or more if he is to take the class Championship. Look out for Jon Oxborrow in the OX7 for another potential class winner on the day though.

Onto the racing cars up to 1600cc and the focus here will be on whether Ed Hollier can make it five from five in the Gurston Championship and in the Top Ten Challenge. He has already won the latter with a maximum 40 points from four rounds, but a clean sweep must be in his sights. Peter D. Smith (1.6 Force) and James Blackmore (1.6 OMS 25), among others, will have other ideas.

The meeting will round off with racing cars up to 2000cc and Roger Cock could be the winner here in his 2.0 Pilbeam MP54 although Mark Walker (2.0 Dallara F399) will be pushing as will Robin Johnson in his 2.0 Pilbeam MP82.

This really does promise to be a very exciting final event of the year, so come to Gurston Down on Sunday September 8th! Practice from 0830, competition from approximately 1300. Just follow the event signs. Restaurant, bar and snack outlets are all available on site.”

 

Thanks so much for this preview Simon, hope that the event goes well, shame that we cannot be there this weekend….

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