Bluff Sealed Hillclimb summary

CHRISTCHURCH DRIVER TAKES INAUGURAL BLUFF HILLCLIMB Christchurch driver Ross McKay made his trip south all the more worthwhile when he won the inaugural Bluff Sealed Hillclimb on the road of the iconic Southland tourist attraction yesterday ...

CHRISTCHURCH DRIVER TAKES INAUGURAL BLUFF HILLCLIMB

Christchurch driver Ross McKay made his trip south all the more worthwhile when he won the inaugural Bluff Sealed Hillclimb on the road of the iconic Southland tourist attraction yesterday (Saturday 18 March).

McKay recorded the fastest time of the day in his second run, when he blasted up the hill in a time of 1 minute 03.403 seconds in his purpose built Mitsubishi EVO 3RS. In doing so he won the prize that had lured him to Bluff, a drive in the DFAC Challenge at the Silverstone Race To The Sky. The DFAC Challenge involves a competition between Dong Feng trucks driven by selected drivers during the lunch break on both days of the Race To The Sky. McKay now joins the field of drivers for the event on the strength of his win in the Bluff Promotions Bayview Hotel/Pub Charity Bluff Where The Journey Begins Sealed Hillclimb.

Invercargill driver Steve Heffernan, the current New Zealand Class C Formula Ford Champion, finished second in the event with a time of 1 minute 04.477 in his Van Diemen RF92. Heffernan caused some excitement when he spun across the finish line on his final run. Just 1/1000th of a second behind Heffernan was another Invercargill driver, Vaughan Edie in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 4. The surprise package of the event was Kaitangata's Duncan McCrostie who finished 4th in a 2 wheel drive Nissan Bluebird Turbo in a time of 1 minute 04.873 seconds.

McKay paid tribute to the event after his win. "It was brilliantly run and everyone associated with the event, from the organisers to the flag marshalls and the sponsors were so friendly. It really is a great place to come to and I'm keen to return and defend the title if it's held again. The local competitors put up a great fight as seal isn't their forte, but they adapted well to a foreign surface".

McKay was however disappointed with his time, saying that he broke a centre diff at the beginning of his third run which meant he couldn't lower the best time that was set on the second run. He also gave credit to Carl Vaughan, "a clever tuner", who helped him set up the hillclimb car that produces 400 horsepower.

There were several incidents throughout the day, the worst involving Cromwell driver Paul Beattie on the last corner before the finish line. Beattie slid over the edge and into some large rocks. It took quite some time to extract the car to avoid doing further damage. Others to strike problems were Scott Laurence who dropped a wheel over a bank just after crossing the finish line but returned to run again later in the day. Mechanical ailments affected Jeremy Dawson who broke an axle in his Toyota Starlet, while Graeme Beck struck a fuel problem in the Beck Special and Jock McGilvray of Bluff broke a gearbox in his Mk1 Ford Escort.

Class titles in the Hillclimb were awarded to the fastest in each class unless they finished in the top three overall. That meant Class D competitors McKay and Edie plus Class F competitor Steve Heffernan could not claim their classes.

Therefore Class D honours for 4 wheel drive cars went to Mainland Rally Champion Derek Ayson of Clinton. Ayson recorded the 5th best time of 1.05.411 in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 4. Riverton driver Don Nelson (Brabham BT21R) took out Class F for Sports & Racing Cars after recording a time of 1.11.557. Kevin Laird of Gore won Class A for 2 wheel drive saloons from 0 -1300cc with a time of 1.19.316 in his Suzuki Swift GTi. Class B (1301 - 1600cc) went to another Gore driver, Russell Burney in a Honda Civic in a time of 1.08.858, while Duncan McCrostie won Class C (1601cc & over) with his time.

Thirty - two cars started the event.

-bh

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Series Hillclimb