The shortest day of the year may have limited day-light hours, but the conditions were perfect, albeit rather brisk, at Bryant Park for the sixth and penultimate round of the 2015 Victorian Hillclimb Championship. This scenic venue in the Haunted Hills near Newborough has arguably the best facilities of any hillclimb track in the country. It is also one of the longest tracks and has a flexibility that enables a range of different track layouts to be used. On this occasion, the decision was made to run the popular, long-clockwise layout. Unlike a traditional hillclimb, the Bryant Park layout starts and finishes at the top of the hill. From the start the track drops steeply down through a right-left-right series of curves leading onto a short downhill straight before turning left and then right over a blind crest and into a very steep drop down to ‘Oh Shit Corner’. This corner comes up very quickly and takes you to the right, climbing steeply out of what feels like a massive pit. The climb continues through another left before dropping down hill again through a fast right to the tight left-hander at the ‘cross-over’. You then climb steeply through a right kink onto the uphill back straight before braking heavily for a series of long corners that turn right, then left and right again before a final climb across the finish line. It’s approximately 1300 metres in length and the fastest open wheel racing cars are doing it in under 50 seconds.
In what was a good turn out for an event so close to the end of the series, this round attracted about 80 competitors including four members of the Sporting Register.
Ian Holdsworth (Mazda RX7 turbo) was the fastest driver from our club, and also the fastest sedan driver at the meeting, placing 8th outright and first in his class with a best time of 57.27 seconds. Unfortunately Ian smacked a concrete barrier after crossing the finishing line on his fourth run damaging the driver’s side of his car and bringing his event to an early close.
David Anderson (MGB) was in a close battle all day with an Alfa GTV in the ‘Under 2-litre Sports Car’ class. David’s best time was a 58.79 – good enough for 12th outright, but still 2 tenths of a second behind the Alfa at the end of the day. This placed him second in the class.
Jane Vollebregt ran her blue MGBGT in the ‘Under 2-litre Marque Sports Car’ class and came away very pleased with a class winning time of 67.53 seconds.
Steve Schmidt’s ‘Group N – Historic’ Cooper S couldn’t quite match his opposition in a similar car and so had to settle for 2nd in class and 42nd outright with a best time of 62.74 seconds.
It was tremendous to see so many Sporting Register members wandering around the pits and enjoying the event on such a beautiful winter’s day in Gippsland. Despite several incidents where the recovery teams were required, everything seemed to run smoothly and all drivers had the opportunity for a practice run and 5 timed runs during the day. Special thanks go to the Gippsland Car Club which hosted this round and also to the volunteers, including Sporting Register member Ian Maud who acted as a start-line official and corner marshal during the day.
It was announced at the Drivers’ Briefing’ to much applause, that the Gippsland Car Club and Bryant Park had been awarded the prestigious honour of hosting the Australian Hillclimb Championship in 2016. This is a stand alone event shared between the states each year and it will certainly attract the cream of Australia’s hillclimb competitors to this venue next year.
Photos courtesy of Gary Hill from Elgee Words and Pictures (firstname.lastname@example.org)