Wiscombe Park hosted the South West’s biggest motorsport event, Rounds 19 and 20 of the British Hillclimb Championship organised by the Woolbridge Motor Club reports Nigel Cole.
It was also significant because it was the first time that spectators were allowed in to the venue since the Covid pandemic. And motor sport starved fans could not wait, showing their support with a near record crowd.
They were entertained by a demonstration of skill and speed by the UK’s fastest drivers in cars capable of up to 180 mph on a track just 11 foot wide bordered by trees and earth banks – timed over a distance of 1000 yards / a half mile. The fastest drivers will often be separated by just 10ths of a second.
On Saturday, the British Championship contenders had four practice runs throughout the day in preparation for their competitive runs on Sunday.
They were met with very changeable conditions as rain showers were frequent throughout the day. Some were lucky and had runs on a dry tack...others had to contend with slippery tarmac. The second half of the hill is also completely shrouded with trees, so this takes days to dry out...not just a couple of hours. This weather factor all adds to the challenge that is speed hillclimbing.
For the drivers competing in the local championships, it was a full day of competition for them after just one practice run. And one of the highlights was Taunton driver Ben Bonfield / Jedi Mk4 setting a new Hillclimb and Sprint Association record with a 38.03s run taking 2 seconds off of the previous record set in 2010. The fastest time of the day went to Andrew Forsyth / OMS CF04 - 37.75s.
On Sunday, the weather played a major role in the British Championship. The showers were much more frequent and a lot heavier, at times causing rivers of water to run on certain parts of the hill. In the first Run Off of the day, for which the drivers have to qualify, the man currently in second place in the Championship, Alex Summers, did not qualify.
The Championship leader, Flying Scotsman Wallace Menzies, took full advantage and won the Run Off for maximum points with a time of 34.78s from Sean Gould – 35.44s. Unfortunately, two drivers suffered big spins on the hill in the treacherous conditions. Very rapid Yorkshireman Richard Spedding’s GWR Raptor suffering significant damage and would take no further part in the meeting.
For the second Run Off, the rain had subsided and the track had started to dry. Again, defending British Champion Wallace Menzies was the man to beat as he set the fastest time of 37.31s (his Wiscombe Hill Record is 33.13s). Sean Gould finished in second place on a 38.17s run.
In a disappointing weekend for 2015 Champion Alex Summers, he could only muster a 6th place. Wallace Menzies has now extended his Championship lead to 182 points, from Alex Summers, 159 points and Sean Gould 135 points.
It was another day of competition for South West drivers, and again it was Andrew Forsyth victorious with a run of 42.61s - a great double for the Wiscombe specialist from Blandford Forum.
For the winners of the 2020 Tillicoultry Quarries Wiscombe Park Championship, they finally were presented with their trophies. Normally, an awards evening is held in November, but was cancelled because of Covid.
That was rectified on Sunday and during the lunch break, Champion Jonathan Wright received his trophy from Wallace Menzies, MD of Tillicoultry Quarries. It was a family affair, because in second place was Jonathan’s brother, Anthony Wright. Third place went to Dawlish Warren golf professional Jon Langmead.
To keep up to date with all the latest news from Wiscombe Park, please visit the web site www.wiscombepark.co.uk and the Facebook page.

Exmouth Journal: 2020 Wiscombe Park Tillicoultry Quarries Championship - L-R Jonathan Wright; Wallace Menzies; Anthony Wright2020 Wiscombe Park Tillicoultry Quarries Championship - L-R Jonathan Wright; Wallace Menzies; Anthony Wright (Image: Nigel Cole)

Exmouth Journal: Ben Bonfield - Jedi Mk4Ben Bonfield - Jedi Mk4 (Image: Nigel Cole)

Exmouth Journal: Andrew Forsyth - OMS CF04 (1)Andrew Forsyth - OMS CF04 (1) (Image: Nigel Cole)

Exmouth Journal: Sean Gould - Gould GR59BJSean Gould - Gould GR59BJ (Image: Nigel Cole)