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Interview

The king of the hill preparing for a gradual descent from the peak

Scott Moran has won six British Hillclimb titles, but he won’t be chasing a seventh. That makes it a good moment to look back at his time at the pinnacle of a discipline in which he's the joint most successful driver in history

Scott Moran

On an autumnal Sunday a few weeks ago at Loton Park, Scott Moran climbed out of a top-flight hillclimb car for perhaps the final time to end his career at the top of the sport. Though this is far from retirement for the Ludlow driver, it signalled the end of an era that took him to six British Hillclimb Championship titles, and run-off victory stats that will go unbeaten for a long time.

Now 47 years old, Moran had decided that the time demands of chasing a full British championship campaign were just too much to balance with family and business commitments. There is every chance that the younger Moran, 13-year-old Ollie, will soon make his first steps in the sport, following his father and grandad Roger in extending the Moran motorsport dynasty.

“It’s been fantastic,” says Scott, reflecting on his stellar career. “Winning the championship six times is incredible. I’d love that number seven, but if I don’t do it I’m not going to worry about it.

“I’m just stepping down from chasing the British Hillclimb Championship, that’s as much as it is. The BHC is a massive commitment and I’ve done it most years for 20 years now.

“I’m not retiring,” adds Moran, who competed at Prescott last weekend alongside Roger in their Skoda Fabia R5 rally car. “I’m just stopping competing at this level.”

The Moran story goes back to the young Roger competing as a 19-year-old in road rallies in the early 1970s. He progressed through rallying and eventually into hillclimbing, and it was there that Scott first started to compete. Scott ran an ex-Simon Durling Delta racing car for a couple of years in the mid-1990s, and then shared a Caterham with his sister Marie.

Moran cut his teeth in a Caterham he shared with sister Marie

Moran cut his teeth in a Caterham he shared with sister Marie

Success followed, and it wasn’t long before he took up the chance of sharing a V6-engined Pilbeam MP88 with Roger, who won the BHC crown in 1997. Scott’s first experience of the car was at Curborough on a test day: “I squeezed the throttle and it just went. I thought I was going to the moon! I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could drive this thing. But I was bitten by the bug and thought it was incredible.”

He gradually built his pace in the Pilbeam, sharing the car with his dad. By 2005, the Gould GR61 that would bring them so much success was being put together.

“We already had the tub for the Gould from Ralt,” recalls Moran. “It’s a 1999 tub built for F3 and they never actually used it. I really found my feet in that car. The Pilbeam was really difficult to drive, and then I got in the GR61 and it just gelled.”

It was inevitably tempting to roll the dice one more time and go into 2024 chasing a seventh title. But Moran made the decision not to, and instead he will drive a variety of cars in a less busy schedule

With a Nicholson McLaren engine installed, the first title came in 2008. Moran won again in 2009, lost out to Martin Groves in 2010, and then took a third crown in 2011, when Roger finished second in the shared car. After Trevor Willis took the 2012 title, Scott took three more titles over four years, and in the year he didn’t win, 2015, Alex Summers shared the car and bagged his first BHC crown.

It was at the June 2007 Shelsley Walsh meeting, when battling with Groves, that they blitzed the all-important Shelsley record, one of hillclimbing’s most coveted spoils.

“I think we broke the record five times between us,” Moran grins. “There were other people under the record, but only Martin and I went home with sub-23s runs. Now there are eight people under 23s!”

Wallace Menzies, an arch rival of recent seasons, reckons that Moran has a button in the car where he keys in the time he wants to set, and simply goes out and does it.

Now 47, Moran is stepping back from competing at the highest level of hillclimbing

Photo by: Paul Lawrence

Now 47, Moran is stepping back from competing at the highest level of hillclimbing

After a couple of quiet seasons when Moran didn’t chase a full campaign, the GR61 was put away in the garage and he moved to sharing the later GR59 of Graham Wynn. The package got quicker and quicker, and by the second half of 2023 was a match for anything. It was inevitably tempting to roll the dice one more time and go into 2024 chasing a seventh title.

But Moran made the decision not to, and instead he will drive a variety of cars in a less busy schedule, though will surely not lack invitations to share cars with other drivers. Roger has several cars in the garage, and more time in the increasingly developed Fabia R5 hillclimb evolution is an option.

So for now, at least, Scott Moran has served his time at the top of British hillclimbing. He’s been a popular and deserving champion, and the close-knit community will rejoice in the fact that he’s not quitting, just scaling back a little.

The record breakers

The British Hillclimb Championship is the UK’s longest-running national motorsport series, easily outdating the British Touring Car Championship and the British Rally Championship. It started in 1947 as Britain emerged from the Second World War and has only been stopped once, by COVID in 2020.

Across 76 years, multiple champions are common and Scott Moran stands right at the very head of the pack alongside Tony Marsh, with six titles. Marsh took two hat-tricks, one in the 1950s and one in the 1960s, in between trying his hand at grand prix racing.

Six other drivers have won the title four times and, with four on the trot to his credit so far, current pacesetter Wallace Menzies could be heading towards joining Moran and Marsh at the top of the rankings.

To win six times is a remarkable achievement that takes consistency, pace, determination and tenacity. And Moran can be justifiably proud of it – not to mention his record 173 run-off victories.

Moran and the GR61
was a formidable combo
and took six titles

Photo by: Paul Lawrence

Moran and the GR61 was a formidable combo and took six titles

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