As I travelled from Oxford to Worcester on my motorcycle it was foggy, misty and more than a little chilly. Heading as I was for the historic and well respected Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb I was hoping for a tightly competitive final event of the year, that fact adding spice to the proceedings, “Speed Sauce in Worcester” if you will (I know,sorry!).
The weather was a bit grey over the circuit but crucially it was dry as I arrived at the wonderful old paddock complex with its garages and pretty wooden buildings and of course the glorious Hillclimb winding its way up through the trees.
It was as stated above the final round of a 12-event championship. Given the closeness of results during the year it was fitting that several people could win the overall championship title that day.
We had 16 drivers heading out for first practice. The track was mainly dry, I say mainly because it’s not unusual to have some early damp patches on hillclimbs with trees covering parts of the track, but as the cars set off with a roar from the famous Shelsley start line it was clear times would be as quick as ever and that the drivers knew they needed a strong first run.
In P4 we welcomed Jake Cartwright back to the fold with his Boxster. The two-car battle between Martin Leach in the 911E and Stephen Jory in the 944 looked set to follow its usual path with the times in both the practice runs only being separated by a tenth or two. Martin was the quicker coming out of practice, but again by a very small margin,
In P3 Geraint Evans looked to be in great form as did Wayne Eason as they vied for the best time out of practice. Jon Baldock and Graham Rose also put in good runs, the supercharged car of Graham sounding fierce as it made its way off the line. Geraint ended practice with the quickest time of just under 36 seconds.
The Wadsworths were again sharing the very effective 911 3.0 and the two were quite close throughout the two practice runs but Nick was quickest and leading the class with a time of 34.60 seconds. Mel Spear was out with his pretty 964 and going very well as was Simon Carr in his road going Cayman.
In P1 Andy Fagan looked like he meant business as the purposeful Boxster 3.4 launched quickly off the line. David Hilton, sharing the GT3 with Tim Barber looked to be in great form and ended practice just 0.5 seconds slower than Tim who was quickest with a time of 33.68 seconds.
Scoring Timed Runs
The weather after a very nice lunch in the circuits’ own Café was now a little less stable looking, a bit greyer and a bit cooler and the rain we all expected looked to be not too far off as the cars went out on the first scoring run, The drivers knew that it might be their only dry scoring run of the day and so it had to count as the best ‘banker’ run they could muster.
The P4 folk opened their scoring accounts with the now expected close margin. Martin Leach had a run of 34.94 seconds, just a few tenths quicker than Stephen Jory in the 944. Jake Cartwright knocked a second off his time to sit third in class at that point.
Three different Porsche models graced the P3 class, Graham Rose in is supercharged 924, Wayne Eason and Jon Baldock in the Boxsters and Geraint Evans in his 911 3.0 Carrera. Geraint was quickest in the first timed run but by just 4 tenths or so in 34.96 seconds, pipping Wayne for the class lead.
Simon Carr was again showing us how well he can handle his fully road legal Cayman in P2 and Mel Spear piloted his 964 smoothly and attracted attention with its great colour scheme as he shot past the lower grandstand. The class was always likely to be a tussle between the family pairing of Ian and Nick Wadsworth and Nick ended the first timed run in a great time of 34.57 seconds, enough to hold the lead over Ian and, as one of the Championship hopefuls, giving him some margin of safety as the drivers readied themselves for the final run of the championship later in the day.
Our P1 cars all sounded and looked marvellous as they blasted past the crowds on the hillside. Howard Cressey was again showing how well he and his 718 GTS4 road car can cope with the track. As ever the trio of Andy Fagan in the Boxster ad Tim Barber and David Hilton in the GT3 were snapping at each other’s heels. David was quick with a (corrected for slick use) time of 33.26 seconds but could not quite catch Andy who managed to come home in under 33 seconds. However, it was Tim Barber squeezing the most of the GT3 that ended the first timed run for the class in the lead with an impressive time (corrected for slick use) of 32.56 seconds, but just a couple of tenths quicker than Andy.
The drivers watched and waited as the weather appeared to be taking a turn for the worse before the final timed runs of the day and of course of whole championship. They lined up with spitting rain getting ever so slightly heavier as the minutes past and they moved forward towards the start line. Sadly, by the time they got there the track was just too damp and slippery to expect any times to be quicker than the earlier runs and everyone recorded slower times.
And so there it was, the first timed runs would decide the results for the day, and of course the Championship. Tim Barber took the P1 win, Nick Wadsworth P2 and Geraint Evans P3 with Martin Leach just holding off Stephen Jory to claim P4.
Perhaps it wasn’t the barnstorming end to the year we would have all wished for but a great day of skilful driving and with the Porsches putting on a good show for the crowds as ever.
Congratulations to all competitors for a well fought extremley close championship and to Nick Wadsworth on winning the overall 2023 Speed Championship title. Hope to see many of you at the championship dinner on 28th October!
Details of the 2024 Speed Championship regulations including the event dates will be available to view on the Motorsport Web site and in the Porsche Post soon. Do keep checking and should you fancy joining our happy band of time busting, tire testing and crowd-pleasing Speed Championship drivers please feel free to email the Motorsport Team and we will be very happy to explain how you can get involved in this great sport.