The 2017 Gurston Down Speed Hill Climb season got underway on Saturday 22nd April with the first meeting of the 50th Anniversary Season.

The weather wasn’t perfect for racing but it was dry and the forecast was good.

It wasn’t long before the sounds of cars competing on the 12 feet wide, narrow and twisty tarmac began.

With a large number of events on over the weekend, there was a small shortage of marshals, without whom we could not run the event. So a number of drivers stepped forward to help out the hard working marshals.More about this experience later.

Conditions were much improved in the afternoon for the timed runs.

First up were the Pre-War Austin 7’s. The “Road” Class was as competitive as usual. The win went to the Austin 7 Special of Daniel Cowley. Daniel did not have it all his own way, he was second by almost one second after the first timed run but managed a fantastic run and finished on 48.67s almost a second ahead of Ian Bennett.

The quicker “Race” Class went next. Terry Griffin and his Austin 7 Special just pipped Paul Geering to the win. Terry finished on 45.91s and Paul on 45.99.

The TVR Class saw some gorgeous cars on the hill. The TVR 2500 of Mark Hankins wasn’t amongst the top runs but it was a beautifully prepared car. James Howell’s incident in practice put him out for the day. The eventual winner was Mark Everett in his Chimaera with a 38.55s second timed run. Second place was close too. Richard Bream and Alan Davies had been running within a tenth of a second in the first timed runs. Richard managed a 39.17s run, edging Alan out by just 0.05s.

The Westfield Class saw Martin Watson score a convincing win. Martin and his Westfield SeiW finished on 33.07s almost two seconds ahead of the rest.

The ‘Classic Marques Speed Championship’ Class attracted entries from all over the country, in a variety of cars. It also saw some very close competition. The silver Ginetta G4 of Matthew Eady, 37.41s, was quickest followed by Steve Cox and his TVR V8S, 37.58s and Steven Lyle and his Porsche Boxster S, 37.66s, making the top three.

The Gurston Down Mazda MX5 Class, supported by DoctorMX5 came next. Mark Crookall, the class record holder and the 2016 class champion took the win by a very strong margin. He finished on 41.41s just 0.40s off the class record. The next two were separated by just 0.06s with Mark Jones pipping Mark Coleman to second.

The Road Going Series Production Class up to 2000cc, supported by Record-Designs was next. Tim Foster and his lovely Lotus Elan, 38.88s, beat Dean Cubitt’s MX5 by just over half a second.

The over 2000cc Road Going Series Production Class, supported by Turbo Dynamics was close too. Shaun and Sarah Fudge and the revised Subaru Impreza managed a first and third on 37.03s and 38.88s, respectively. They were separated by Jon Maycook’s turbocharged MX5 who ended on 37.21s. A very close class indeed.

The Road Going Specialist Production Class, supported by Fieldfare Trailer Centre went next. This class was another close fought battle between Clive Skipper in his 2.0 Caterham HPC and Adrian Lewis in his 1.4 Westfield Megabusa. Clive took the win with a 35.62s with Adrian just 0.07s behind on 35.69s.

The Modified Limited Production Marque Sports Cars up to 2000cc Class had only one entry, the current class record holder, Steve Butts in his Lotus Elise. Steve stopped the clocks on 34.73s.

The over 2000cc Modified Limited Production Marque Sports Car Class saw Simon Purcell and his beautifully prepared Lotus Elise over-come both Paul Slade (Jagaur E Type) and Steve Holley (TVR Griffith). Simon’s time was 35.15s.

The up to 1400cc Modified Series Production Class, supported by Cock and Sons (Builders) had the two very fast Minis of David Bean and Derek Mullis entered. Derek’s gearbox failure in practice left David the class to himself. David finished on 42.86s.

Darren Balster and his Peugoet 205 in the 1401cc to 2000cc Modified Series Production Class, supported by Tipadel managed a very keen 35.47s run.

The over 2000cc Modified Series Production Class, supported by Meadens Skoda saw Tim Painter and Andrew Fraser, go head to head in that gorgeous Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Tim was the man on form and finished on 35.34s.

The over 2000cc Modified Specialist Production Class, supported by Gates of Brokenhurst had four highly developed Westfields. This class is always entertaining and Mike Rudge took the win with a 31.76s.

Those lovely cars in the Historically Interesting Class, supported by Kalvin Jouhar came next. Geoff Hunt was on form with the black and white Lotus 22 pulling out a 36.66s second timed run after Mike Broome (Alexis Mk17 F3) lead after the first timed runs.

Derek Harris in his Mallock17b was the only entry in the Hill Climb Super Sports Class. Derek finished on a 35.43s.

Peter Sexton and Jonathan Gates went head to head in their shared Force LM in the Sports Libre up to 2000cc Class, supported by Lewis Property Services. They are both very competitive and candidates for Fastest Time of the Day. Saturday was Peter’s day, he finished on 29.95s just ahead of Jonathan on 30.15s. Peter’s time also gave him the Fastest Time of the Day!

The Sports Libre over 2000cc Class, supported by Berazzi Wheels saw the Force SR8 of Chris Cannell and Sue Hayes take on the hill. Chris managed to secure the win with a 30.45s.

The 601cc to 1100cc Racing Car Class, supported by Drynham Project Management Limited went next. James Moore in the Empire ran a very quick 32.09s second timed run to fend off the rest of the pack. Second and third were close, Murray Wakeham was beaten by just 0.28s by Calum Kemp.

The 1101cc to 1600cc Racing Car Class, supported by SM AeRoTechniques with Brian and Adrian Moody, had Peter D Smith and Richard Gaylard in their shared Force PC starting favorites. It was Richard’s day, he beat Peter by just 0.09s and finished on 30.48s!

Mark Alley took the Formula Ford Class, supported by Basil and Lorraine Pitt. He and his Swift FB91 managed a 38.16s run. But he had to overcome George Haynes after George lead by just 0.01s after the first timed run. We are looking forward to out Formula Ford Festival later in the year.

The 1601cc to 2000cc Racing Car (Normally Aspirated) Class, supported by New Techniques with Gould Engineering Class had two runners. David Lord and his Quest had to fight hard to beat Malcolm Cole. David ended the day on 34.30s.

The SBD HSA Speed Championship – Saloons and Sports Cars rounded off Saturday’s racing. The two Subaru Imprezzas of Chris Berrisford and Justin Andrews were pretty much in control after the first timed runs. Justin got the better of Chris, finishing on 34.63s.

Thank you to Steve Lister for the great pictures!

We would like to thank everyone who made the day possible, the office staff, the marshals, timekeepers, scrutineers and officials without whom we couldn’t run the meeting. Thanks to Ashley Wood Recovery, TSL Timing, Insight Medical Services, Insight Security and Peter Crutcher from Ringwood PA.

Anthony Record – Press Officer – BARC SW, Gurston Down Speed Hill Climb