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Our first event for 2014, Pipers Valley Rd Gravel Hillclimb was a round of the Motorsport NZ Hillclimb Championship. It’s 4km of sweet Canterbury gravel. Well done to Mike Tall for taking out 1st overall.
Here’s Barry Varcoe in fine form in his classic Toyota Celica Turbo on his way to 3rd in class 3 1601+ 2WD
Click for a copy of the Overall andClass Results
Bravery required at Hillclimb Champs
The first South Island rounds of the 2014 NZ Hillclimb Championship were held in the Duvauchelle area of Banks Peninsula over the weekend of 25th and 26th February. Saturday saw teams take on Duvauchelle Rd, a steep winding tar seal Hillclimb of around 4km, followed on Sunday with a gravel climb of just under 4km up the daunting Piper Valley Rd. Both events climbed from near sea level up the southern side the Port Hills with Piper Valley Rd reaching 400 metres altitude by the finish.
Saturday’s action saw Mike Tall take the win in his unrestricted 2300 cc Evo4 by over six seconds, ahead of Leigh Marston who had his first drive of his Impreza WRC replica on tar seal. Phil Sloan was third, just 3/10ths behind in his Impreza. Brent Buist debuted his new 1600 BDA MK 2 Escort at the event and took fourth after the three official championship runs, just 1/100th ahead of Regan Ross in his 2 litre injected BDA. Ross would do a fourth run to head Buist in the club only result, while Chris Banks took third of the 2WD’s in his RX3. Malcolm Lovett won the 1600 cc class, while Jim Tennant was having a good run in his Nissan 240RS lookalike, until a rear wheel parted company resulting in a run up a bank (but not over one luckily).
Onto the gravel on Sunday, Piper Valley Rd asked the question – how brave are you? The first half of the road is sweeping and not too steep, with a little room to throw the car sideways and trees masking the drops off the side. The second half of the road is very steep and narrow, with little room to get outside the tracks. Drops of up to 1000 feet are unobscured as the drivers complete the second half of the road.
Twenty six drivers took on the challenge with early front runners including Tall, Darren Galbraith making a return to the sport having purchased the ex Kibble Evo 6, and Garry Hawkes in his EV0 9. Sloan and Marston would also be in the action, along with Darryl Campbell having his first run in in his new Evo, Jussara Kokshorn in her Evo5, and Rodney Lang in his Evo3.
Darren Galbraith showed his talent is still there after over ten years away from the sport, posting the fastest time first up. Next was Tall, followed by Lang with Hawkes 4th. Regan Ross was quickest of the 2WD’s first up in his BDA, followed by Garry Cowan putting in an impressive effort in his classic ex Meeking’s AE86. Brent Buist was next taking the 7 speed sequential 1600 BDA up the hill for third 2WD first up.
Tall made the top of the time sheets in run two, with Galbraith less than a second back, followed by Hawkes. These three were over ten seconds ahead of the rest of field going into the final run, while Cowan stayed 2nd 2WD behind Ross and ahead of Buist.
The last chance to get it right saw Tall take the win in in the third and final run. Galbraith put in the drive of the day to take second, less than half a second behind Tall. Considering the power difference on the steep hill Galbraith could be well pleased with his effort in his Group N spec, restricted 2000cc Evo. Hawkes was next, 3 seconds back from Galbraith.
The 2WD open class was easily won by Regan Ross, over ten seconds clear of Paul Gorman’s V8 powered series 1 RX7. Third in class was won by Barry Varcoe in his rear drive Classic Celica Turbo replica.
Brent Buist took out the 1600cc class having bettered Cowan in the last run. Buist was 2nd fastest of all the 2WD’s and Cowan third. The ex Toyota NZ AE86 of Cowan goes as good as it has ever done and Cowan is very impressive to watch with his skilled and committed driving of the early 80’s Toyota. Josh Mitchell took his 1600 cc 4AGE powered Starlet to third in class.
For the 1300 cc competitors the steep hill made for a tough day. Graeme Wilson in his Suzuki twincam powered Starlet was too quick for the rest, winning the class ahead of new competitor Shannon Clark in a DX Corolla. Clark would crash in his last run, hitting a bank (and again lucky not to go over one) but would take second in class based on his run two time. Third of the 1300’s was Jared Christofferson who did a great job getting his near standard Swift up the hill.
Special mention for Jussara Kokshorn who brought her Evo5 over from Greymouth to take part and finished well, in sixth place and giving most of the blokes a run for their money on the very ‘ballsy’ piece of road. The NZ Hillclimb championship will continue through February, with the national final to be held in March in Gisborne.