Spedding claims 3rd victory as Menzies takes his first of the season.

Having started this season driving a road-going Ford Fiesta, whilst awaiting the delivery of a new competition car, Kilmington driver Ben Wheeler made the most of his new machine to take Fastest Time of the Day at the Woolbridge Motor Club’s two-day meeting at Wiscombe Park which hosted two rounds of the British Hillclimb Championships.

The IT security solutions technician overcame an error on a damp track at the Sawbench Hairpin during the first practice runs to quickly become accustomed to his new mount, an Empire Evo 2 single seater racing car, and take the premier award in the first of two clubman’s events with a best climb of 43.95 seconds.

Jan Yeo from Exeter took the honours in the Wiscombe Championship class for non-roadgoing vehicles in the 1800 c.c. Westfield SEi he shares with his father. The quantity surveyor secured the victory from Honiton’s Joe Keep in his Ford Fiesta Zetec. The same car facilitated more trophies when co-driver Samii Layzell, from Ottery St Mary, claimed the award for the Best Performance by a Lady Driver. Third in the class was taken by Weymouth’s Graham Blake in his Westfield SEiW which son Geoff took to a class win twenty-four hours later. Having taken time away from the sport during recent months to support his partner and the birth of their son Blake junior returned to competitive motoring with two circumspect practice runs but then displayed the pace required to defeat (again on bogey) two single-seater racing cars in the hands of Ben Wheeler (Empire Evo 2) who won the Saturday event outright and Shillingstone driver Andrew Forsyth (OMS CF04).

The second day of the meeting saw more success for Devon drivers with golf professional Jonathan Langmead securing the win in the Wiscombe Championship roadgoing category. Due to the diverse specification of the cars accommodated in this class (saloons, sports cars and single-seater racing cars) the results were calculated by use of bogey times rather than the actual times achieved by the individual drivers. The Exminster driver finished ahead of 2015 and current Wiscombe Championship winner Ian Ingleheart who campaigned his 1700 c.c. BDA engined Westfield sports car. 

In the British Championship classes Tipton Garage motor technician James Hudson claimed a victory in the Road-going Production Car class at the wheel of his Volkswagen Golf. Hudson, from Ottery St Mary, took an emphatic win with a margin of 1.4 seconds over Midlander Richard Brant and his Renault Clio 172 Sport.

Previous Wiscombe Park Champion Martyn Pike took the honours in 1400 c.c. - 2000 c.c. Modified Series Production Car division at the wheel of his Ford Escort Mk1.  The architectural technician from Feniton made the most of his experience on the technically demanding East Devon course to record a winning time of 43.44 seconds.

The Downton Motor Club class (predominantly for Minis) saw Bere Regis driver Stephen Wareham take his 1330 c.c. Morris Mini to second and third place finishes with a best climb of 48.28 seconds whilst Weymouth’s Mini enthusiast and ex-circuit racer John Kirby continued to develop his one litre turbo-charged Clubman with a best time of 49.78 seconds.

Taunton speed hillclimb duo Tony and Ben Bonfield took their Austin Mini up against stern opposition in the Modified Series Production Car upto 1400 c.c class. The Taunton Motoring Club members campaigned their highly developed Austin Mini to good effect against a Citroen AX in the hands of Brad Drowne and long-time British Championship exponent Andrew Russell in his Hillman Imp engined Ginetta G15. Following wet practice runs on the Saturday the folowing day dawned dry and sunny which heralded more grip and quicker times. Thirty-year-old Ben set the pace in the BMW motorcycle cylinder head equipped Mini. The production/product development advisor and reigning Bridge Tyres and Wheels Association of South West Motor Clubs Sprint Champion displayed his pace taking a comfortable win over the French machine by a margin of one and a half seconds. Tony Bonfield secured third place with a best climb of 46.13 seconds.

Wellington brothers Jonathan and Anthony Wright were the class of the roadgoing division of the Wiscombe Park Championship class in the former’s Volkswagen Golf GTi. On the first day of the meeting they annexed the top two positions of the podium with Jonathan taking the win on bogey times. Twenty four hours later he was obliged to give best to the Lotus Elise of golf professional Jonathan Langmead and the BDA engined Westfield SE of 2015 champion and current Wiscombe Park Championship leader Ian Ingleheart.

Jonathan Williamson put his experience to good effect in his Porsche 911 Carrera to secure victory in the Modified Series Production Car class. The german machine being better suited to the testing Wiscombe Park gradients and bends allied to Williamson’s ability enabled the previous south west hillclimb champion to take a win by a margin of just under 1.6 seconds over the circuit racing specification Prodrive-built Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Tim Painter.

The highlight of the weekend was the two Top Twelve Run-Offs for the Avon Tyres/TTC Group British Hillclimb Championships. Contestants of the national series had to qualify separately for each run-off by being one of the fastest twelve registered contenders during the class runs. The fastest ten in the run -off would then score points.

The first Top Twelve Run-Off was all about a man in form. Richard Spedding hustling his GWR Raptor to the top of the 900 metre course to claim ten points and a third run-off victory in succession this time aheadof 2015 Champion Alex Summers who, aboard his 2.5 litre Cosworth KF V6 engined DJ Firestorm, proved to be a potent force on the testing East Devon hill. The Tenbury Wells driver finishing thirteen hendredths of a second in arrears of the Barnsley driver. Current championship leader Trevor Willis posted a smooth 34.81 second climb aborad the familiar OMS 28 with 3.2 litre V8 Hyabusa power plant. Will Hall secured fourth place with his two litre turbo-charged four cyclinder AER/Xtech engined Force WH whilst Jason Mourant (Gould GR55-4.0 Judd) and Wallace Menzies (Gould GR59M-3.5 Cosworth) tied for fifth place with a time of 35.56 seconds.


Spedding was not so fortunate in the second shoot-out when a problem with the paddle shift caused him to loose engine braking which led to contact with the scenery and what appears to be superficial damage to the GWR Raptor. This left the door of opportunity open for Scotsman Menzies to drive through. An improvement of over one second on his second run-off appearance was enough for the Alloa quarry owner to take his first win at the wheel of the GR59M ahead of Willis and Hall who finished 0.21 and 0.41 seconds in arrears. Summers and Channel Islander Mourant rounded out the top five with local driver Ed Hollier claiming sixth in his Empire Evo 00 to close the gap in the championship to arch rival Sean Gould to just two points.


Full Run-Off results and Championship table are available at www.britishhillcimb.co.uk