Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Veloce Sponsors Formula Ford Fest at Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb

Set amongst the patchwork fields of Wiltshire, Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb hosted the Hillclimb Formula Ford Fest, over the weekend of 22-23 July. In true British style, the battle was close-fought, the weather was changeable, and the conditions were challenging!



Now in it's second year, this competition for pre-1994 'Kent' engined Formula Ford cars takes place at one of our best known, best loved, hillclimb venues. Twenty-four drivers from all over the country took part this year, and the event looks set to grow and grow … it's already talked about as a 'must-do' fixture on the FF hillclimb schedule.

#123 Simon McBeath. (Courtesy Steve Lister)
This year is the 50th anniversary of Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb, and of Formula Ford itself, and with Simon McBeath and Ed McDonough, two Veloce authors, piloting their way to the finish, plus event sponsorship from ourselves, what better way to celebrate, and enjoy the sights and sounds of open-wheeled racecars sprinting up the hill?

Formula Ford came about in 1967, and has changed numerous times since, but the 1600cc Kent engine variant has endured. Adopted shortly after the formula was instigated, it persists today, in local, regional, and national championships worldwide. If you're clued-up on your engines, and are *ahem* of a certain age, you may know the Kent from the Ford Anglia of '59. This used a pre-crossflow engine, but the later crossflow version, as used in the Cortina GT, was, and is, the basis for the FF race cars.

#119 Andrew Henson.
(Courtesy Steve Lister)
All the cars use Hewland race gearboxes, and Avon treaded race tyres, designed specifically for FF use around the world. Formula Ford has also been the first step on the ladder of greatness for many famous racing drivers and F1 champs … Senna, Mansell, Hunt, Button … the list reads like a Who's Who of World Champions.

Unsettled weather across the two days, meant track conditions were different for every run, with three different leaders across Saturday's four practice runs. Paul O'Neil, former BTCC winner, and ITV4 BTCC commentator, led the field on the fourth practice, sharing Mark Alley's Swift FB91.

On Sunday, twenty-four drivers started the competition, with Simon leading by a small margin each time up. Staying just ahead of former record-holder Andrew Henson, in his Van Diemen RF91, Simon eventually took victory by just 0.34s. A well-deserved third went to Nev Rollason, who was just 0.21s behind, in a Jamun M90. Despite his performance in practice, O'Neil ultimately finished eighth, 0.59s behind Alley, while Ed McDonough, despite running in faster conditions, only managed 20th, in his Dulon MP15, after recording a Fail on his second attempt.

Winner Simon McBeath (centre), 2nd placed Andrew Henson (left), and 3rd placed Nev Rollason.

This year, as with last year, Simon donated his prize to the Marshal of the Year. Chosen by his or her peers, at the end of the season, the lucky winner will be presented with the prize at November's annual awards day.

Full results as follows …

Hillclimb Formula Ford Fest Gurston Down 2017
P
#
Name Vehicle
Run 1
Run 2
Best
1
123
Simon MCBEATH Swift SC92F
41.78
39.96
39.96
2
119
Andrew HENSON Van Diemen RF91
42.44
40.30
40.30
3
118
Nev ROLLASON Jamum M90
41.98
40.51
40.51
4
117
Mark ALLEY Swift FB91
43.42
40.99
40.99
5
115
Richard SUMMERS Van Diemen RF80
41.97
41.17
41.17
6
112
Iain HOUSTON Van Diemen RF89
46.15
41.29
41.29
7
116
Russel HAYNES Zeus ZR163
44.42
41.58
41.58
8
917
Paul O’NEILL Swift FB91
42.02
41.64
41.64
9
120
Les BUCK Pringett Mistrale
44.63
41.79
41.79
10
902
Simon ANDREWS Van Diemen RF90
43.02
42.14
42.14
11
114
Charlie REILLY Van Diemen RF92
44.52
42.46
42.46
12
103
Shaun MACKLIN Swift SC92
42.48
42.71
42.48
13
102
Bernard KEVILL Van Diemen RF90
44.64
42.64
42.64
14
916
George HAYNES Zeus ZR163
43.64
44.81
43.64
15
113
Paul MORCOM Merlin Mk 11A
46.24
44.20
44.20
16
91
Samantha LESTER Van Diemen RF92
45.05
68.70
45.05
17
111
Chris GUY Reynard
49.88
45.22
45.22
18
911
Peter HAWKEY Reynard 89FF
50.43
45.90
45.90
19
109
Chris WARDEN Swift FB91
45.99
FAIL
45.99
20
107
Ed MCDONOUGH Dulon MP15
51.42
47.29
47.29
21
919
Nicola DEARDEN Van Diemen RF91
53.17
47.73
47.73
22
110
Doug AULD Swift SC93
48.68
N/S
48.68
23
108
Jeremy BOUCKLEY Swift FB90
52.10
N/S
52.10
24
104
Geoff LANCASTER Swift SC92F
55.25
81.67
55.25

Gurston Down has a packed programme … checkout its website for details of forthcoming events: http://www.gurstondown.org

#107 Ed McDonough could only manage P20 in changeable conditions.
(Courtesy Steve Lister)

#118 Nev Rollason took third place, just 0.55s off the pace of Simon's winning time.
(Courtesy Steve Lister)


We'd like to say thank you to everyone who made the day possible, and BIG congratulations to Simon … it'll be fingers-crossed for a hat-trick next time!