On Sunday I made the first of what I hope will be many visits to Gurston Down for the 5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend hillclimb. Gurston Down just west of Salisbury is set on a working farm and was devised by six time British Hillclimb champion Tony Marsh in 1965.
The course is just over a half a mile long and rises a total 140 feet, it is also the only Hillclimb in the UK that starts on a downward slope. As I found out on Sunday the facilities and viewing areas are excellent and it is no surprise to hear that Gurston Down has won the Norrie Galbraith Memorial Trophy for best organised British Hillclimb Championship event a record eight times.
After a cup of tea and obligatory bacon and egg roll in the excellent restaurant on arrival I made my way up to the Ashes Bend towards the top of the hill during the opening practice runs arriving in time to observe the second practice runs. Above Bob Mortimer lifts an inside front wheel in his Porsche 911 at the apex of Ashes.
On his second practice run Johnathon Gates was forced into a bit of lawn mowing at Ashes bend as the back of his car stepped out unexpectedly under braking. No damage was done and he ended the day with 8th fastest time.
Mike Rudge is seen correcting oversteer / push coming out of Ashes in his Westfield SEi, he easily won his class by seven seconds more surprisingly to me he finished with 9th fastest time of the day beating a number of single seat open wheel cars in the process.
During her second practice run Hannah Stapely-Bealing came by showing signs of contact with the Wiltshire scenery however the car was repaired and put in two timed runs, however the motor of her Formula 1300 Clubmans car was no longer running cleanly and she was around a second off her first practice run.
National Motor Museum Beaulieu kindly sent along former Autosport Technical Editor John Bolsters “Bloody Mary” Special for a welcome demonstration. The special started as a project for two teenagers to scare the cow’s in a nearby field and became a successful if by all accounts rather terrifying Brough Superior powered hill climb winner.
I was introduced to another new, to me, manufacturer at Gurston namely Lester who built MG powered cars in the 1950’s. Stewart Penfound navigates the steep and tight Karousel in his example above.
Another interesting MG was Chris Pamplin’s MG XPAG Special as listed in the programme and 1935 MG Magnette according to the registration plate.
Standing out from an otherwise mostly red crowd of Ferrari’s was Mike Spicers Modena Yellow 328 GTB seen approaching Deer Leap which recorded 2nd fastest Ferrari time of the day.
Lewis Fanner will have given his wife with whom he shares their Subaru Impreza a scare as he spun the car going into Karousel. Fortunately he did not hit anything and returned to the paddock for his one remaining run.
Simon Hadfield and Geoff Hunt shared this Lotus 22, originally designed for Formula Junior competition, and finished the faster of the two albiet second in class to the more modern Ensign LNF3 driven by Fyrth Crosse.
Over the past couple of months the lines of Graham Beales class winning Ginetta G33 have really grown on me, apparently the idea for the Rover V8 powered car was conceived on a table cloth in a pizzeria by Mark Warklett and Noel Palmer.
Darren Street was another who found the entry to Karousel a bit tricky in his Ford Escort XR3i, here he is seen on his way to an appointment with the hay bales. Fortunately he suffered no injuries and he eventually drove to the top of the hill under his own steam.
Like the Bloody Mary Special Adrian Lewis’s St Bruno Roughcutter Clubman’s car has an Autosport connection it being the creation of Barry Foley, best known as Autosports ‘Catchpole’ cartoonist. Barry built the car in the early 1970’s crediting help from a variety of sources including design input from Maurice Phillipe himself a part time Clubmans racer when not busy designing Formula One cars.
On both of his timed runs Alistair Dent lost time when his tail got onto the grass on the exit of Karousel, which had the benefit of at least entertaining those of us watching, above Alistair is seen on his first run in the Hornet JAP powered 500 F3 car.
By for the most serious incident of the day was when Karl Chard left the road at Karousel and ended up going straight into the hay bales. Fortunately again Karl was unhurt which is more than can be said for the Mazda MX 5 which he shares with his brother Ian. At least all the wheels were still attached.
David Flagg lost 3/10ths of a second on his second timed run this display of wheel spin from his Subaru on the run to Deer Leap probably did not help his cause.
Edward Hollier set best time of the day (BTD) running the course in 29.19 seconds in his Pilbeam MP62, both of his runs were quicker than the next fastest competitor Peter Smith who was driving a Force in the same class as Edward. Coincidentally Ed won last time that I saw him running at Wiscombe Park last month.
Another great day out at yet another great venue, if you have never been I doubt you will be disappointed.
Thanks for joining me on this “5th Tony Marsh Memorial Weekend” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !
PS Shameless plug my British Grand Preview can be found at Motorsports Unplugged on this link.