Trevor’s Topsy-Turvy Triumph

A quite remarkable pair of British Championship scoring Top 12 Run Offs at Prescott Hillclimb saw Trevor Willis on top form to take one step closer to a possible first British Championship title.

Prescott Speed Hillclimb

After approaching the mark in final practice on Saturday afternoon, Willis took the outright hill record in the first Run Off to outscore reigning champion Scott Moran, before producing an amazing qualifying effort and a second place finish second time up to reclaim the championship lead with just four rounds of the season to go.

Qualifying for the first shootout was a fairly straight-forward affair, but a badly timed downpour was the undoing for the majority of the title contenders.The misfortune of the big-boys produced a golden opportunity for some of the lesser fancied runners, and they grabbed the chance with both hands and put on a great show for those spectators who didn’t leave after the rain came.

Roger Moran lead off the first charge for points (after qualifying fifth), but a couple of slightly sideways moments cost him and he slipped to sixth when it mattered most.

Scotsman Lee Adams has had a tough time of it recently, having been unwell with kidney stones for a couple of weeks. He loves Prescott though, and has always gone well at the hill. He got his head down and produced a PB, but he was still nearly half a second behind his flying team-mate.

Veteran hillclimber Rob Turnbull squeezed the mightily powerful Gould HB into the shootout at the expense of a too circumspect Tony Wiltshire(!). Big Rob couldn’t match his qualifying pace and finished out of the points on what is likely to be his final ever Run Off appearance. Joining Turnbull out of the points was OMS constructor Steve Owen, who has seen quite a bit of Run Off action in recent weeks.

The most spectacular driver by a very long way was Richard Spedding in his Force PC. Richard attempted to match the Raptor and get his Force flat-out through the opening Orchard bend. He nearly made it, but the back stepped out on the exit and he fought once, twice and eventually three times to recover the car and stop it before the fast approaching Ettores Bend. He managed it, but the time was gone and he had to take the final point.

The new for 2012 Force WH has looked a much happier proposition for Will Hall in recent weeks and he was looking forward to a good run at Prescott. Despite a good practice on Saturday, things just didn’t click on Sunday and the Midlander slipped to ninth.

 

Alex Summers and John Bradburn then had a great scrap over what would become seventh & eighth places. The 2-litre class DJ of Summers was quicker up the top, but Bradburn’s V8 grunt had already done enough on the faster lower section of the hill to claim seventh and four more British points.

Really regaining his confidence again with the big Judd-powered Gould, Tommy New did his chances of claiming seventh in the title chase no harm at all as he stamped on the throttle out of Ettores & Pardon to gain with a fourth placed finish.

Then it was time for the top three, the Raptor of Goodyear plus the two title chasers. Goodyear had (yet again) destroyed the 1600cc record in qualifying with a 37.00s run. He went even better when the points were at stake though with a stunning 36.58s.

Defending champ Scott Moran came to the line knowing that he really needed a record to put the pressure on Willis. He pushed very, very hard and the Gould was on the edge, but it wasn’t quite enough. He slipped ahead of Goodyear, but was a frustrating tenth of a second shy of the record.

All eyes were on Willis as the OMS 25 rolled to the line. He was on rails through Orchard Bend, tightened his line nicely on the exit of Ettores before using all of the electronics at his disposal to get the power down. He was up on the field at the Esses split and stormed to the win on 36.24s. It took the commentators a moment to realise it, but he had indeed claimed the record and more importantly a bonus point.

 

Surely the second shootout couldn’t live up to the drama of the first? As it turned out it couldn’t, but qualifying did! The rain that had briefly soaked the course during morning practice returned in the afternoon. By it arrived AFTER the sportscars and smaller single-seaters had taken their runs!

Sportscar drivers Mike Manning, Graham Wynn, John MacKenzie and ‘Wee-Hairy’ Les Mutch were all in, as were 1100cc drivers Simon Fidoe and Gary Thomas. The rest of the lineup was made up of the ‘A’ drivers from the 1600cc class (including Jos Goodyear of course), with the exception of one…

All of the big boys had put the wets on a had a go at qualifying, but trying to go sub-44s on wets (which was what was required) was never on though. However, nobody appeared to have told Trevor Willis, he threw caution to the wind and set a time over 1.5s quicker than anyone else in the class to just get in with the eleventh fastest time.

With Wallace not getting into either Run Off due to his engine troubles, wife Nicola upheld the family honour with her Force PC, but she finished out of the points along with Lee Griffiths.

Lynne Owen splashed up for her first point of the year in the works OMS 25.

Welsh former Rallycross star Manning and his awesome Ford Puma were made for conditions like this, and the combination put on a mega display. The car popped, banged, understeered & oversteered its way through the course to an eventual eighth place.

 

Just ahead of Manning were Thomas and Mutch as they scrapped over sixth place. Mutch’s bravery on the brakes had to be seen to be believed and he claimed by far the best result ever for a Dax at Championship level (as well as Tim Coventry’s age-old class record in qualifying).

The Empire-Suzuki of Fidoe and the Radical Sportscar of MacKenzie were just ahead of this pair and claimed their personal best ever finishes.

The top three were miles ahead though.

Welsh Wizard Eynon Price returned to the hills in the Spedding Force and the conditions couldn’t have worked better for the former rally driver. It was just like old times as Eynon slithered the car on to the podium with third place.

After that amazing qualifying effort you could have forgiven Trevor Willis for relaxing slightly, but with the championship so tantalizingly close he cannot afford to do that. Running early due to that eleventh placed qualifier he had the worst of the conditions on the drying track. His time was still stunning though and was worthy of second place, nine more points and a return to the championship lead come the end.

Goodyear rolled to the line knowing that this was his chance, not only to get another win, but to move ahead of Roger Moran in the championship standing and into the top three. He made no mistakes at all and an incredibly smooth run took the ten points.

 

Willis was ecstatic at the end, and Scott Moran was thinking about what might have been.

The run-in to the end of the year is going to be seriously exciting now.

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