Bluff Hillclimb Most Competitive Ever
25 JANUARY 2008
Bluff Hillclimb Most Competitive Ever
This year's Bay View Hotel Pub Charity Bluff "where the journey begins" Sealed Hillclimb is shaping up to be the most competitive to date.
The third edition of the popular motorsport event will take place in Bluff tomorrow (Saturday 26 January) and the field is a strong one.
Last year's winner, Glenn Frew of Outram, is back in his 450 horsepower Mitsubishi EVO with which he became the first to climb the 1.6 kilometre Bluff Hill access road in under 1 minute last year. Frew arrived at last year's event earmarked as a dark horse and proceeded to set the pace. His first run last year was just shy of the record set by 2006 winner Ross MacKay of Ashburton. Two more runs followed that were tantalisingly close to the 1 minute barrier before he blasted up the hill on his fourth and final run in 59.895 seconds, the winning time and so far the only sub-minute run up the hill.
One of his chief rivals this time around will be last year's runner-up, Kaitangata driver Duncan McCrostie. McCrostie drove a 2-wheel-drive Nissan Bluebird Turbo in 2007 recording an impressive time of 1 minute 03.218 seconds to head off everyone except Frew. However McCrostie has a new car this year - an ex-Emma Gilmour Mitsubishi EVO built specifically for Race To The Sky. McCrostie has adapted to the new car very quickly and finished runner-up to Gore driver Andrew Graves at the recent Kaitangata Promotions Bob Scott Memorial Hillclimb. Frew was third at that event.
The result of the Kaitangata event is extremely significant as it was the first round of the Southern Twin Peaks Challenge of which Bluff is the second and final round. The competitor who records the fastest time when their best effort from both Kaitangata and Bluff are added together will win the challenge which carries with it a cash prize.
McCrostie's best time at Kaitangata was a 55.802 seconds while Frew's was a 56.681. The other major contenders for the Twin Peaks Challenge prize are Gore driver Craig Abernethy and Dunedin's Brian Scott (son of well known Otago motorsport identity the late Bob Scott after which the Kaitangata Hillclimb was named), both in EVO's. Abernethy finished fourth at the South Otago event in 57.402 seconds while Scott was sixth in 58.729. This will be the first attempt at the Bluff event for both.
Joining Frew, McCrostie, Abernethy and Scott in Class D for 4-wheel-drive cars is Gordon Beeby of Temuka. Beeby, who won the Southern Sprint Series in the early 1990's, is bringing a supercharged Subaru Impreza WRX to the hill - an interesting prospect!.
Reigning champion Frew is typically laidback when asked about defending his title. "I'll give it a go," he say's. "Duncan (McCrostie) will be hard to beat. To win the Southern Twin Peaks Challenge I would have to beat him by nearly a second."
Others entered at this stage include Invercargill driver Steve Heffernan in his Van Diemen RF92. The Van Diemen is a single seater race car more at home on smooth race circuits such as Teretonga but Heffernan used the car to good effect in 2006 when he finished second in 1 minute 04.477 seconds. Last year, in an older Van Diemen he set the fifth fastest time.
Last year's third placegetter, Chris Hey of East Taieri, returns in his Nissan SR20 Toyota MR2 Turbo in which he climbed the hill in 1.03.439 last year. Hey also cracked the top ten at Kaitangata in the car. He is in Class C for 2-wheel-drive cars of 1601cc and over and his opposition includes last year's class winner Wayne Tuffley of Invercargill in his Pre 65 Ford Mustang, Craig Jessop of Stirling in a Nissan Pulsar and Cromwell's Julian Prior-Stockwin in his Commodore.
Class B for 2-wheel drive cars of 1301-1600cc includes Gore's Errol Hewlett in a Toyota Levin, Invercargill's Darryl Scott in a Toyota powered Ford Escort and Phil Terry of Wrights Bush (Toyota Trueno).
Reigning Class A Champion (2-wheel drive cars 0-1300cc) Kevin Laird of Gore returns and will share a Suzuki Swift with his father Roger. Meanwhile the other competitor from the Laird family, Roger's wife and Kevin's mother, Karen Laird drives an older Suzuki. Their rivals include Balclutha's Paul Goatley in a Toyota Starlet, Ashburton driver Gary Cook in a Suzuki GTi powered Starlet and Dave Robertson of Invercargill in a Hillman Imp.
The hillclimb utilises the road to the
summit of Bluff Hill (Motu Pohue), a road that climbs to a
height of 264 metres above sea level. The cars climb through
a steep twisty section
before a long uphill straight interrupted by two tight chicanes. That section is followed by another steep, twisty section of road that takes the cars to the finish line.
The event is a joint project between Bluff Promotions assisted by the Eastern Southland Car Club and the Southland Sports Car Club. It forms a part of both the Southland Sport Car Club's Speed Championship and the Eastern Southland Car Club's Club Championship.
The road to the summit will be closed from 9.00am untiI 7.00pm for the event while the first high-speed runs will begin at 11.00am. Each competitor will make four runs during the day with their fastest time establishing their overall result.
Refreshments and a licensed booth will be available at the foot of the hill where the cars can also be inspected throughout the day.
The winner will take home the distinctive Bay View Hotel Pub Charity Bluff "where the journey begins" Sealed Hillclimb Trophy.