Hill Climb

James Thomson made up for his disappointment at Wiscombe Park by making fastest time of the day at the second round of the RAC Hill Climb Championship at Loton Pak on Easter Monday. The day was cold, rather windy but dry, and it was the same trio as at Wiscombe setting the fastest times in the top ten run off, albeit in a reversed order. Chris Cramer again failed to qualify, by just one hundredth of a second, to be joined by Roy Lane, who had been having fuel problems. The top ten times were:

1, James Thomson (2.5 Pilbeam MP40K) 49.85s

2, Alister Douglas-Osborn (3.6 Pilheam MP47) 50.53s

3, Dave Harris (2.5 Pilbeam MP50) 50.81s

4, Richard Jones (2.2 Mallock U2) 51.30s

5, Ted Williams (2.5 Pilbeam MP41) 51.83s

6, Martyn Griffiths (2.5 Pilbeam MP46) 51.95s

7, David Franklin (2.3 March 782) 51.95s

8, Martin Bolsover (1.6 Pilbeam MP51) 51.96s

9, James Jack (2.2 March 782) 52.58s

10, Max Harvey (2.5 March 792) 52.94s

Thus Thomson, Harris and Douglas-Osborn shared equal points when they came to Prescott over the early May Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was foul. Not only was it very cold, but persistent showers made the track very wet for the start of the meeting, and the organisers, the Bugatti Owners Club, faced a series of weather induced problems including a break-down in the timing system and a number of injury-free accidents, all of which contributed to significant delays during which the condition of the fast-drying surface and the skies were carefully monitored by those awaiting their climbs, wondering whether or not to change tyres. Man of the meeting was undoubtedly Mister Douglas-Osborn who has obviously come completely to terms with his large and very powerful Cosworth engined Pilbeam, setting FTD in fine style and winning the top ten run-off to take the lead in the Hill Climb Championship.

The early classes were at a disadvantage for their first runs, for although the rain had all but stopped, the track was well soaked, and under 1,300 c.c. Special Saloon Class leader, Charles Barter, could do no better than 53.06 secs. on his first run with his Davrian Hartwell Stiletto. The second climbs, after a relatively dry lunch break, were made with the track in better condition, but Barter spun off at the Semi-circle on his second run, failing to record a time, leaving the class to John Meredith with his Maguire Hartwell Imp in 49.02 secs. Terry Bass took second place with 51.72 secs, in his Davrian Imp, followed closely by Dave Harries’ Mini, which was red flagged twice before he was able to make his second run. Nick Mann’s amazing turbocharged Rover 3500 engined Morris Minor was clearly at a disadvantage in the prevailing conditions, but was coaxed quietly and very neatly to the top of the hill in a shade over 50 secs. On the second run to take second place in the over 1,300 c.c. Special Saloons Class to Barrogil Angus’ 2-litre Davrian Stiletto which climbed in 47.21 secs.

Small GT and Modified Sports Cars seem unpopular amongst the hill climbing fraternity, the class being supported by only five entries. Fastest of the first, wet runs with 56.52 secs. was Ian Sargent with his Clan Crusader, but his engine disintegrated at Semi-circle on his second run, leaving the class to Andy Waters who took his MG Midget to the top in 53.23 secs.

In contrast, the large capacity GT and Modified Sports Class was the best supported with 39 entries. Cars varied from the very standard looking Lotus Elan of A.W. Miller, through tuned and tweaked Morgans to the obviously special such as Chris Lawrence’s MGB V8. Fastest after the first runs with 53.99 secs, and eventual class winner with 49.63 secs. was Josh Sadler with his rather special 3 1/2-litre Porsche 911, followed closely by Roland Jones’ Carrera Porsche with 49.81 secs.

Mattocks dominated the small Sports Racing & Clubmans Chassis Class, no less than twelve of the fifteen cars entered being of this make. The class was split into two groups, one for pushrod-engined cars the other for o.h.c. cars, and due to a change in conditions, the faster time came from the pushrod section with 50.40 secs. to Tim Reynolds on his second climb. His first climb time had been eclipsed by Chris Anderson, by nearly three seconds, but Anderson overdid things at the Ewes, crashing heavily into the barrier. While he was being extracted, the near dry track was thoroughly dampened again by a shower, leaving the luckless o.h.c brigade to two wet climbs. Charles Wardle’s first climb recorded an incredible 51.69 secs., and this was not matched by anyone on the second runs, the nearest being Wardle’s partner Jim Robinson in the same car with 54.79 secs. Wardle himself failed on his second climb for what appeared to be gearbox trouble, second place went to Brian Windle with his first run time of 54.16 secs.

Richard Jones (Mallock) had the larger capacity Sports Racing and Clubmans Class well sewn up, recording 52.63 secs. on his single run. Over a second separated him from second man Mark Williams (also Mallock mounted) and a private ladies duel between Maggie Blankstone (again Mallock) and Joy Rainey (Murrain) went in favour of the former with 54.54 to Joy’s 56.86 secs.

The 500 to 1,100 c.c. Racing Class was comfortably won by Russ Ward with his March, with a first climb time of 51.47 secs. Second fell to Adrian Desoutter’s Spartan with 54.12 secs, and third to John Corbyn’s Saracen with 54.33 secs.

As expected, the 1,100 to 1,600 c.c. Racing Class fell to Martin Bolsover. whose time of 49.18 secs. gained him a place in the top ten run-off with his Pilbeam, second place went to Richard Lester’s March with 50.50 secs. and third to Andy Smith’s turbocharged Austin powered March with 50.60 secs.

By way of adding interest to the programme, if that were necessary, the Bugatti Owners Club had included a handicap class for Ferraris, a class for historic 500 c.c. racers, a Bugatti handicap and a class for Classic Cars. The first of these special classes went to Malcolm Carey with a 246 Dino ahead of Tony Willis with a later 308 Dino. The handicap and the conditions eclipsed what must have been the prettiest of all the cars at the meeting, the 206 SP Dino, the car which, amongst other successes, finished second at the 1966 Nurburg 1,000 km. race, which put up fastest time for the class in the hands of Dudley Mason-Styrron. The 500 c.c. class went to Ron Warr with his delectable Cooper in 60.20 secs. and the Bugatti handicap was won by Frank Wall with his Type 35B, recording 61.79 secs. Douglas Mainstone’s TVR Grantura took the post-1945 section of the Classic Class with David Milne’s Lotus Elan second and John Underwood’s MG A third. Winner of the pre-war section was John Marks with his immaculate Type 51 Bugatti.

By the time the large capacity racing cars came to make their first timed runs, the track was drying out well, and there was much to-ing and fro-ing with jacks, wheel spanners, “intermediates” and “slicks”. Ted Williams set the pace with a resounding 48.59 secs, in his Pilbeam for the first climb in the class, no-one else breaking 50 secs, until local man, Alan Richards climbed in 49.85 secs. with his March. Max Harvey (March) followed quickly with 49.62, but first to break Williams’ time was James Thomson with 47.97 secs, in his Pilbeam. Douglas-Osborn was first to use “intermediates”, despite the still damp appearance of the track, and this paid off for his time of 46.34 secs, was to remain fastest time of the day, although Roy Lane, running with “slicks” on the back of his Hart-engined March, was on top form recording 46.82 secs., the only other competitor to break 47 secs. Chris Cramer stayed on wets with his Toleman, which he is obviously beginning to sort out satisfactorily for hill climbing, for he climbed in a respectable 48.06 secs, to secure a place in the top ten run off. The second class runs took place on a much wetter track, with only Chris Dowson (Brabham Repco) and Tony Brown (March) improving their times.

Bolsover started the top ten climbs off with 50.76 secs. on a wet track, Dave Harris (Pilbeam) was first to break 50 secs. with 49.89, followed closely by David Franklin (March) with 49.99 secs. Cramer pulled out all stops and recorded 48.33 secs., but Thomson tried too hard at Ettores running up the banking and damaging the front fin, although luckily nothing else. Lane made a valiant attempt to beat Cramer’s time, but was some 0.6 of a second slower, leaving Douglas-Osborn to set the pace with 46.80 secs. Thomson recovered his position very well after some rapid paddock fettling to the front of his car, recording 47.31 secs. on his second climb, putting him just ahead of Cramer’s 48.22 secs. but Ixhind Lane’s second climb time of 46.11 secs. but no-one could touch Douglas-Osborn, who, knowing that he had already won the top-ten was able to make a relaxed second climb.

Douglas-Osborn’s performance at Prescott, a hill which normally favours the smaller cars must worry his fellow competitors if he can do so well, so easily at this venue in difficult conditions, how much better will he do on hills which favour the more powerful cars, such as Shelsley or Doune? –  P. H J.W

Prescott Top Ten

1, Alister Douglas-Osborn (Pilbeam MP47 DFV) 46.80s

2, Roy Lane (March 802 Hart) 47.11s

3, James Thomson (Pilbeam MP40K Hart) 47.31s

4, Chris Cramer (Toleman TG290H Hart) 48.22s

5, Ted Williams (Pilbeam MP40 Hart) 48.86s

6, Dave Harris (Pilbeam MP50 Hart) 49.09s

7, Martin Bolsover (Pilbeam MP51 Ford) 49.10s

8, Martyn Griffiths (Pilbeam MP42 Hart) 49 89s

9, David Franklin (March 782 BMW) 49.99s

10, Godfrey Crompton (March 802 Hart) 51.35s

Fastest time of day: Douglas-Osborne 46.34 sec.