Guernsey Press

Saunders stunned with third place against ‘National’ hillclimb boys

Contending with the ‘National’ boys and their high-tech machinery is always a big ask for a humble Guernsey driver.

Saunders qualified for both run-offs and said he 'couldn't believe it' when one of them ended in a podium place. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin)

But Sarnian No. 1 Nick Saunders’ efforts throughout Saturday’s overcast yet surprisingly dry British Hill Climb paid off when he placed third in the second of two top-12 run-offs, despite operating on less than half the engine size of his main rivals.

‘I can’t believe it, to be fair,’ the 1.6-litre Reynick driver said.

‘With what I’m driving compared to the rest of the guys, to achieve that, I’m so happy.

‘It’s been a very good day. The competition’s so fierce now and they’re so, so quick, the National guys.

‘I’m probably giving up 30mph up the top straight, so that means I’ve got to go into the corners quicker. To get onto the podium, I just can’t believe it.’

The first run-off brought the fastest times of the Guernsey Motorcycle and Car Club spectacle, with Wallace Menzies taking the limelight with his brilliant Le Val des Terres record of 26.47sec.

A degree of excellence was to be expected from Menzies – he has enjoyed an excellent National Hill Climb season and took the win in Jersey just days prior.

But even he did not expect that feat after struggling to hit speed earlier in the day.

Nick Saunders' podium finish made it a day to remember for the leading local driver. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin)

‘Really pleased for getting it, really surprised as well,’ he said.

‘I saw the times that had gone on and I knew it had to be full send to be worthwhile.’

Going ‘full send’ did, however, mean that he damaged his car against the bank over the line.

‘I was super chuffed with the time but a bit less chuffed with bending the back end of the car,’ he added.

‘That’s part of it and the boys did an absolutely awesome job getting it back together.’

Scott Moran, the former record holder, came near his old marker with a 27.05 and Will Hall logged a 27.53.

That relegated Nick Saunders’ 27.55 to an unfortunate – but still very creditable – fourth place.

After some drizzle, the second run-off took place, and Saunders went only marginally slower with a 27.67 for a short-lived lead.

Moran took over by clocking 26.94 and then came Menzies, fittingly rocking the No. 1 car, with a 26.91. The Scottish driver had done the double.

But also making his mark against classy visiting opposition was fellow Sarnian hope Tim Tulie, whose Empire 00’s engine barely exceeds one litre.

Nick Saunders congratulates Wallace Menzies on winning the Round 20 Run Off. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin)

He overcame that disadvantage to not only make both run-offs, but used that stage to post eye-catching times of 28.06 and 28.13.

Although Tulie missed out narrowly on his personal best, he did come away with a class record on the day.

His 28.15 in qualifying was enough to beat the Racing Cars 601 to 1,100cc record for GMCCC competition, in which run-off times are not eligible.

Mark King had a close call with a record, tying Scott Rayson’s Non-Transaxle mark with a 30.81.

But John Dunne got the nod as he took a good chunk off his own Road Going Series Production Cars unlimited record, posting 33.26.

Jersey’s Bob Wood obliterated the old mark in the Road Going Specialist Production Cars with a 37.39 – an improvement of over 2sec.

Jez Mann continues to justify his unconventional choice of a 246cc Lambretta, this time chipping down his own Scooters record to 39.40.

Among the quicker two-wheelers, Jersey’s Lee Le Feuvre and Oliver Holmes were at the forefront with sub-34sec. times.

Le Feuvre edged it with a 33.81, followed by record-holder Holmes just 0.03sec. behind.

Guernsey’s own Colin de Jersey secured third in this competitive field with 34.07.