Sun and Snow For Race To Sky
By: Lance Hastie www.car.co.nz
True of all motorsports, there is always the chance that you won't complete the course, such was the outcome in the Silverstone Race To The Sky for Possum Bourne.
New Zealand's Rally Champion has become so after a long history of finishing first in a multitude of rally events and championships. However, being champion doesn't give you any more luck than the next person that you compete against. Defending champion of the Silverstone Race To The Sky, Possum Bourne was expecting to lay down a challenge that the rest couldn't match.
Well, as they say, 'to finish first, first you must finish' - and while other competitors strived for their best at getting to the top of the 3500ft climb in to the sky, for Bourne it all came un-done at the last minute.
With the large crowd becoming more and more vocal at the last of the competitors racing up the hill, the biggest cheer was saved for the kiwi hero.
Just as the cheer started to die away, there was a united hush from the crowd as they saw their hero slow to a stop, right in front of their eyes.
While disappointed at the full realisation that Possum wasn't going to win the crown again, there was relief that his demise wasn't due to an accident.
The emphasis of the battle then shifted on whether three-times runner up, Rod Millen, would be quick enough to beat the stunning time turned in by Australian Steve Riley in his mini 4WD off roader.
As the times began to fall in to place, it was to a compassionate crowd that if Possum wasn't to get the title then the news that ex pat kiwi Rod Millen would, was second best.
While no-one beat Monster Tajima's record, Millen's 8:43.76 gave him clear victory from second placed Steve Riley in the 'Suzuki Special' off-roader.
Just under 3 seconds behind Riley was Dunedin's Mike Turfus - the only resident kiwi on the podium, followed another 2 seconds back to the first of the bikes - Canterbury's Ian Ffitch.
Last year's quad champion - 'Rocket Ron' Kirkman managed a 9th overall, at the tender age of 66 years young.
Fastest two-wheel motorcycle was Invercargill's Craig Hyde, on his Kawasaki KX 500.
Of the less contemporary machinery on the hill over the weekend, speedway star Blondie Chamberlin clocked 27th fastest in his converted Super Saloon, with a time of 10:06.58
Even though the weather was un-predictable, fluctuating from the occasional snowflake to searing sunshine, the one thing is certain is that it was a fun time for all. As Rod Millen said, "We come here each year to have a good time and catch up with old friends, and do our best - the results are what the results are".
While Millen has confirmed he will be returning to defend his new title, there is no doubt that the 5th running of the Silverstone Race To The Sky was one the fans will remember as one something to return to next year.