Willis’ Wiscombe Wins

In my opinion there is nowhere better to be on a nice, dry, summer day than the wonderfully rustic Wiscombe Park Hillclimb, near Honiton in Devon. The combination of stunning parkland, the unspoiled traditional country house and the sinuous, twisting track through the trees makes for an unbeatable combination.

Wiscombe Park

 

This weekend saw Wiscombe at it’s very best. A new track surface, some stunning class battles, (mostly) great weather, and the ever excellent Woolbridge Motor Club hospitality made it an event not to miss.

The all important Top 12 Run Offs for British Championship points were hard-fought all the way, with FTD and a new Outright Hill Record being set on the very last run of the weekend.

Before the event most seasoned observers of hillclimbing with disagreeing with each other (nothing new there then!). Some were predicting that the stunning GWR Raptor would set a third consecutive Outright Record, others were saying that it would be untouchable on the lower reaches of the hill but would suffer from the length and incline of Castle Straight towards the end of the climb. As it turned out neither would be correct, Jos Goodyear got mighty close to the record, but nobody could even keep Trevor Willis in sight in either sector of the hill, let alone challenge him.

 

The OMS 25 V8 has been virtually transformed from its early days in 2011 when it really did look a little tricky particularly at high-speed. It is now spectacularly fast everywhere and nobody was ever in any doubt about Trevor’s spectacular talent behind the wheel.

Trevor approached Adam Fleetwood’s previously untouchable 2004 hill record (set on a new surface and with the title virtually assured) in Sunday morning practice on Sunday and from that point on was odds on to do the business as long as the weather held.

The record was initially despatched with a 34.01s in first qually as Trevor topped the times. Jos Goodyear had demolished the 1600cc record (for the fifth dry event in a row) on his way to second qualifier, third in the line-up was Wallace Menzies ahead of a slightly subdued Lee Adams, Will Hall and local ace Tony Wiltshire.

 

Then the rain came. It was only a 10 minute shower, but it’s timing was critical as it meant that the first Run Off would begin with a wet track.

Lee Adams ran first and set an impressive 41.38s on intermediate tyres. Gary Thomas and Dave Uren both took cautious runs on wets, before Olly Tomlin came to the line. The big V8 Pilbeam was also on wets. Olly is always amongst the smoothest of drivers, but on this occasion he unleashed a few too many Judd horses and in the hollow before Bunny’s Leap the car lit-up and he couldn’t catch it, contacting the sleepers on the left of the course very hard indeed. The driver escaped bruised and shaken, but the car will unfortunately require a fair bit of work.

The best part of an hour had passed before the shootout continued and by this time the track was drying quickly… Lee Adams really isn’t getting any breaks at the moment!

Bradburn, New & Spedding then ran on wets to finish eighth, seventh & sixth respectively, but all eyes were on the tyre choice of Devonshire-based Gould V6 driver Tony Wiltshire. Wilt maybe based locally to the hill, but his tyre choice was a punt as well as he hadn’t driven the new surface before either! He chose slicks, and it proved to be the right choice as he went fastest by over 2s at that point.

Will Hall then followed on slicks and took .75s out of Wilt, before Menzies (inters on the front, slicks on the rear) took 0.5s out of him.

That left Goodyear (inters) and Willis (slicks) to battle it out, and strangely enough on the drier lower reaches the car on inters was quickest but in the wetter, upper section Willis’ slicks set the pace!

Willis won by quarter of a second.

The qually order was much the same for the second Run Off, except that Olly Tomlin (accident damage) and Tony Wilt (non-damaging excursion at Martini) weren’t present. In their place a couple of delighted 1100cc runners gained a bonus run as Simon Fidoe became the first man to qualify an Empire at National level and Alex Summers got in with family OMS.

 

Lee Adams salvaged some good points from a difficult weekend with sixth place, but still slipped behind Menzies in the title race. Despite being 0.3s up at the split, Adams couldn’t quite match the mighty Cosworth horsepower of John Bradburn up Castle Straight and slipped behind the fifth placed Gould.

Force V6 driver Will Hall was really enjoying the new for 2012 car at Wiscombe and managed to put in a cracking sub-35 when it mattered for a great fourth place.

 

After a difficult few weeks with the big Judd V8 powered Gould, Tommy New needed a good result and Wiscombe is a hill where he has always gone well. He qualified fourth, but found a stunning 34.35s PB for a podium place. The massive smile on wife Kerrie’s face after the time was announced proved how much all of the New family needed that!

Wallace Menzies ran next, and was really getting hooked up with the vicious power of the DJ Firestorm. He set the best split at that point, but the car got away from him on the exit of Sawbench and a harmless spin meant nil-points this time.

Goodyear was the penultimate runner and really pushed hard, producing a stunning time for the top half of the hill and improving on his class time by nearly half a second! Could Willis respond…

There was drama when the OMS came to the line though as the car refused to fire. Again and again Willis turned the car over, and just as he was about to give up it burst into song. The tyres were warmed, the launch control engaged and the car leapt off of the line.

A small tail slide out of Wis barely slowed the car at all, after the faintest of lifts over Bunny’s and a very aggressive turn in to The Gate it was time to watch the clocks. A mega 16.27s split put the writing on the wall, and sure enough the clocks stopped to show Wiscombe Park’s first ever sub-34s run.

 

An amazing effort by Trevor had eclipsed the oldest National Hill Record in the book, secured another 21 championship points, taken the lead in the championship, and left Scott Moran sitting on his sofa and pondering his decision not to come to Wiscombe.

Well done Trev, it was a mighty effort.

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