The 2017 Gurston Down Speed Hill Climb Championships got under-way on the Sunday 23rd April.

It was the first of five rounds of the Meadens Skoda Gurston Down Hill Climb Championship and the Cavendish Ship Stores Top Ten Challenge. Both championships are very competitive and very well supported.

About 130 cars and drivers came to Gurston together with around 30 motorbikes and combinations. There is a separate report on Sunday’s bike action.

Overnight it was cold. Those staying on site were greeted with a very cold and a little frosty start to the morning. But by the time the course was open, it looked like and became a glorious day.

Spectators turned out to see all the action.

The weekend’s marshal shortage continued through to Sunday so we would like to thank those drivers who helped at the start-line. We rely on the goodwill of all our marshals to run every event so we would like to thank them here too!

First up should be the Volvo Owners Club which had only one entry. Richard Conway’s rather pretty Volvo PV544 had a great day. He smashed the class record, previously held by John Dando in a Volvo 144 at 45.00s. Richard first run was 43.70s and second even faster at 43.53s. Congratulations on that achievement!

The TR Class was next to the line. This class is always hotly contested and Sunday was no exception. Roderick Warner in his TR7 V8 put in a pace setting first timed run of 40.55s which was always going to be a tough one to beat. Richard ended on that time and won the class. Second was a bit of a battle too, Nick Smith in his TR6 managed to stave off Tony Browne’s beautiful Dolomite Sprint. Nick ended on 41.32s and Tony on 41.92s.

The classic British Austin Healey’s were next, in the Austin Healey – Big Healey and Warwick Car Class. Richard Mason ended as the envetual winner on 38.90s, his first timed run in his 3000 Mk2. Paul Baker and Pat Cooper in their respective 100/6 and 3000 were second and third, finishing on 39.12s and 40.36s respectively.

Next went the Austin Healey – Sprites Class. The two Sebring Sprites driven by David Abram and Stephen Casson were in form from the word go! Colin Gale and his Sprite made sure they both worked hard. The first three being separated by less than half a second. It finished David, Stephen and Colin, 40.07s, 40.23s and 40.56s respectively.

The huge class in the ‘Classic Marques Speed Championship’ were entertaining as usual. Class. Matthew Eady and his Ginetta G4 won on Saturday beating Steve Cox but he couldn’t repeat that performance on Sunday. It was as close as ever! Steve Cox and his TVR V8S came in first with a faster time than Saturday on 37.19s with Matthew Eady, second with 37.38s.

Then it was time for the first round of the Meadens Skoda Gurston Down Speed Hill Climb Championship and the Cavendish Ship Stores Top Ten Challenge.

The Gurston Down Mazda MX5 Class, supported by DoctorMX5 went first. Mark Crookall, yesterday’s winner, class record holder and the 2016 class champion made it two in a row. His first timed run broke his own class record which now stands at 40.98s. David Lord joined the class after having an issue with his Quest, borrowing Nick Hollier’s car but couldn’t beat Nick’s time of 43.36s giving Nick second.

The Road Going Series Production Class up to 2000cc, supported by Record-Designs was next. Tim Foster and his lovely Lotus Elan was nearly a second quicker than his Saturday time stopped the clocks on 37.93s. Dean Cubitt’s Mazda MX5 was nudged out of second by Paul Dickinson’s Honda S2000. Paul finished on 38.93s and Dean on 39.28s.

The over 2000cc Road Going Series Production Class, supported by Turbo Dynamics came next. Stephen Moore, the 2015 and 2016 Meaden’s Skoda Champion. Stephen’s super fast Mitsubishi Evo took the class win on 33.70s. Shaun Fudge and his Impreza and Jon Maycock’s turbocharged Mazda MX5 fought hard for second. Shaun was ahead after the first timed run by Jon pulled out a great run pipping Shaun by just 0.10s!

Next up was the Fieldfare Trailer Centre supported Road Going Specialist Production Class. The tables were turned on Saturday’s result. Adrian Lewis turned up the power in his 1.3 Westfield Supercharged Superbusa which gave him the tiniest of margins in the first timed runs over Clive Skipper and his 2.0 Caterham HPC. Clive went ahead after his second timed run but Adrian produced a superb run snatching the win with a 34.62s just 0.10s ahead of Clive’s time!

Steve Butts, a former Gurston Down Champion, and his Lotus Elise were the only entry in The Modified Limited Production Marque Sports Cars up to 2000cc Class. Steve improved his time over Saturday stopping the clocks on 34.02s, just 0.64s short of his existing class record.

The over 2000cc Modified Limited Production Marque Sports Car Class was won by Simon Purcell and his Lotus Elise, He finished on 34.73s. Steve Holley (TVR Griffith) came second.

Derek Mullis had problems on Saturday with his Mini in the up to 1400cc Modified Series Production Class. David Bean kindly shared his car with Derek so he could drive on Sunday. But it wasn’t to be either man’s class. Neil Turner made sure of that, beating them both and finishing on 35.67s.

Richard Wood had a good weekend in his Modified Series Mini Class, Yamaha powered car. His time of 39.46s wasn’t far from his existing class record.

Darren Balster and his Peugoet 205 in the 1401cc to 2000cc Modified Series Production Class, supported by Tipadel managed a very keen 35.50s run which was faster than the cars in the larger capacity class.

The over 2000cc Modified Series Production Class, supported by Meadens Skoda saw Tim Painter and Andrew Fraser’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 go head to head against Mike Butler’s Toyota Celica GT4. Tim repeated his class win, finishing on 35.50s.

Mike Rudge repeated his Saturday win in the over 2000cc Modified Specialist Production Class, supported by Gates of Brokenhurst with a 31.75s second timed run. Martin Watson too second on 32.15s.

Tables were turned in the Historically Interesting Class, supported by Kalvin Jouhar. Mike Broome and his Alexis Mk17 F3 overcame Saturday’s winner Geoff Hunt and his Lotus 22. Mike’s first timed run was 36.38s.

Derek Harris in his Mallock17b improved on his Saturday time in the Hill Climb Super Sports Class. Derek finished on a 34.91s.

The Sports Libre up to 2000cc Class, supported by Lewis Property Services had four entrants but it ended up be a race between the Force LM drovers Peter Sexton and Jonathan Gates. It was Jonathan’s day! He finished on 29.45s and claimed Fastest Time of the Day and ten points in the Cavendish Ship Stores Top Ten Challenge.

The mad 7.5 litre Chevrolet Camaro of Jeffrey Way joined Chris Cannell and Sue Hayes’s Force SR8 in the Sports Libre over 2000cc Class, supported by Berazzi Wheels. Chris won the class with a 30.28s second timed run. It’s always great to see cars like the Camaro on the hill!

The 500 Owners Association went next. These super-lightweight 500cc are fast. The 2001 Rules Class saw John Dent in his Cooper Mk8 win with a 42.66s second timed run just ahead of Finlay MacIntosh and his Cooper Mk6, 43.04s.

The 500 Owners Association, Other Cars class had just one entrant. A 650cc Cooper Mk6. Ainsley Barwick stopped the clock on 43.60s.

The 601cc to 1100cc Racing Car Class, supported by Drynham Project Management Limited went next. James Moore in the Empire ran slightly quicker time than Saturday crossing the line with a 31.98s. A great weekend for James!

The 1101cc to 1600cc Racing Car Class, supported by SM AeRoTechniques with Brian and Adrian Moody, saw a reversal of the Saturday result. Peter D Smith overcame Richard Gaylard in their shared Force PC, finishing on 29.72s and 30.19s, respectively.

Mark Alley was again victorious in the Formula Ford Class, supported by Basil and Lorraine Pitt. He and his Swift FB91 had a really close battle with George Haynes. It could have gone either way. The first timed runs saw them separated by just 0.02s. They both improved on their times but Mark by a better margin. His time of 37.87s was on 0.07s ahead of George’s 37.94s.

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