Friday, 23 September 2016

By Simon McBeath

Copyright Akina Media.

Round 1 of the Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship, where the Pre-1994 Formula Ford class is sponsored by Veloce Publishing, kicked off on April 17th, and Russell Haynes from Bicester took his 1.6 Zeus ZR163 into an early class championship lead with the win on 37.67 seconds from Cirencester’s Paul Morcom, who finished less than six tenths behind in his 1.6 Merlyn Mk 11a.

Veloce author Simon McBeath had delayed his season’s start until the non-championship May event, where he scored his first class win of the year, so he was always going to be a round behind the April entrants in the Gurston championship. However, with four scores from the five championship rounds counting he would still be able to amass the requisite number of scores to challenge early leader Russell Haynes.

June’s double-header event featured two rounds over the two days. June 18th was dry but grip was low. However, McBeath took his 1.6 Swift SC92F to the class win on 37.49secs ahead of Russell Haynes by 0.84 seconds. The following day’s event was affected by intermittent rain but once again McBeath pipped Haynes by 0.64 seconds with a 37.72secs run for his second straight championship event win.

July’s ‘Big Event’, the Veloce Hillclimb Formula Ford Fest, attracted a huge class of 15 drivers in 10 different cars, and the warm, sunny conditions were ideal for fast times. The competition was very close, with the top eight finishers covered by less than a second. But once again Simon McBeath emerged as winner, setting a new class record of 36.30secs, half a second clear of second placed Richard Summers (1.6 Van Diemen RF80). The bonus point for setting a new class record put McBeath in a good position to defend his 2015 class championship title in the final round.

Onto September’s finale then on September 11th, and once again warm, sunny conditions enabled good times to be set. This time the top three were covered by just 0.35 seconds, and McBeath managed to take the win again on 36.60 seconds, 0.31 seconds ahead of season-long series leader Russell Haynes. This result was enough for McBeath to amass a class championship winning score for the second successive year, with an 83.29 points total, ahead of Haynes’s ‘best four scores’ total of 80.58 points.

The Pre-1994 Formula Ford class continues to grow in popularity at Gurston Down, and on the national hillclimb scene too, and the instigator of the ‘Hillclimb FF Fest’, Van Diemen driver Charlie Riley, has compiled a list of around 30 current competitors around the country. The class will again feature in the 2017 Gurston Down Hillclimb Championship, and the Hillclimb FF Fest will once more be a big part of the event at the famous Wiltshire venue in July, hopefully topping the 15 entries seen at the inaugural FF Fest in 2016.

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