Racing round the houses may be off the agenda for now but that failed to stop competitors from turning on a spectacular act at the weekend's Otago Daily Times Southern Festival of Speed motor sport events. Reigning Otago Sports Car Club champion...
Racing round the houses may be off the agenda for now but that failed to stop competitors from turning on a spectacular act at the weekend's Otago Daily Times Southern Festival of Speed motor sport events. Reigning Otago Sports Car Club champion Gwynn Gilmour was the star of the weekend. Showcasing both his own talent and the versatility of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo rally car, the Dunedin driver won yesterday's Princes St "bent sprint", having already triumphed at the festival's preliminary event, a hill climb up Three Mile Hill. The "bent sprint" replaced the usual circuit race, which is on hold pending the outcome of the court action against officials involved in the 1998 Queenstown event.
Featuring 180deg hairpin bends at either end of the course and chicanes in between, the sprint suited the smaller, more nimble cars, and those with plenty of traction. Gilmour lost time when he brushed the crash barriers on his first timed run, but returned with a vengeance to set a 1min 04.22sec benchmark on his second of three runs. Two other Dunedin drivers - Aaron Black in a Toyota Starlet and Chris Henderson in a Mazda RX7 - also drove superbly to crack the 1min 04sec barrier on their final runs. But neither Black, a top karter, nor Henderson, the brother of Olympic cyclist Greg, could come within half a second of the winning time. Driving a Lancer similar to Gilmour's, Christchurch visitor Nigel Beck claimed fourth place overall, followed by Classic Saloon class winner, Michael Wellington (Alfa Romeo GTV). Supercar class winner Allan Dippie (MGC GTS) had posted the fastest time on the first timed run, but had to be content with sixth overall at the finish, just 4/100th of a second ahead of sportscar class winner Daryl Munro (Toyota MR2). Ross Hurley (Nelson, Honda Civic) claimed eighth place ahead of Kaiapoi driver John
Williams (Mallock U2), who was the fastest contemporary single-seater competitor on the sprint. Alistair Gilmour rounded out the top 10 in his Porsche 911 SC. Thrills and spills were all too frequent on Three Mile Hill the day before. Damp conditions made the hill climb treacherous and several competitors either spun or left the road completely. Making the most of his Lancer's four-wheel-drive traction, Gilmour stormed the climb in fine fashion, reaching around 180kmh on the fastest part of the hill en route to his winning time. Dippie and Williams also challenged strongly but fell short of their rival in his more modern rally machine.