October 27th to 30th saw the running of 2016 Australian Hill climb Championship at Bryant Park, and three of our Sporting Register members; Ian Holdsworth, Steve Schmidt and Jim McNiven competed in their respective classes.
Since I broke our toy at Philip Island and the Datto is still languishing on its trailer awaiting its new power plant, David and I decided to help out a bit at the AHCC. So it was that we spent about 3 hours at the end of the shelf (back straight) monitoring cars negotiating the right hand corner that leads into the “S” bends. To be able to stand so close to the action on the fastest part of the track, and observe braking points, entry speed and cornering lines of the fastest drivers was an eye opener.
Malcolm Oastler from the Bega area of NSW is the reigning Australian Hillclimb Champion and in fact has taken out his third AHCC in a row driving a Dallara chassis powered by a turbo charged Suzuki Hyabusa Motor Cycle engine. This car was just so fast to watch as it approached our position and negotiated the corners as though it was on rails and completed the 1400 metre track in a sizzling 44.21 seconds.
Ian Holdsworth did us proud, easily winning his class in the fire breathing turbo charged Mazda RX7, with a fastest time of 55.53. Unfortunately Glenn Latter, who usually gives Ian some serious competition in a similar car, crashed heavily on Friday during practice, severely damaging his car and ending his participation in the event.
The baby Historic class was hotly contested by Steve Schmidt and Peter Weymouth-Wilson driving their respective Mini Cooper “S”s. At the end of racing on Saturday, Steve held a slender lead of 61.80 to 61.82, however on Sunday, Peter reversed the tables and posted a fastest time of 60.86, unfortunately Steve was unable to improve on his Saturday time. Whilst the two cars look the same, Steve’s is a 1964 Group Nb car with 1293cc. Peter’s car is a 1971 Group Nc where a capacity increase of 10% is permitted. Peter’s car is reported to be around 1360cc. It’s quite simple really, bigger bang, faster car.
Jim McNiven placed a close second in the larger Historic class, posting a time of 59.85 in his Torana XU1. Although Jim broke the old lap record for the class, he had to concede victory to Larry Kogge in similar XU1 who posted a 59.28.
In the Super Sports class there was an Electric Sports racing car, which I guess is a sign of the times. Whenever this car was on the track, the silence was broken by a sound akin to moving furniture on a concrete floor as the car’s bodywork contacted the track under braking, and as it accelerated away the power plant sounded more like a dozen tortured slot cars. Call me old fashioned, but it just didn’t seem quite right. In my opinion there is nothing quite like the howl of a well-tuned race engine as it winds up to maximum revs in each gear. I must admit however, the electric car was clothed in a very pretty body. I have since been informed that the driver encountered a software problem limiting the motor to half throttle. He still managed to put in times around 63/64 seconds, so it would be interesting to see what the car would capable of when running at full potential.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The engine capacity of Peter Weymouth-Wilson’s Group Nc Cooper S is a very legal 1326cc, only marginally larger than Steve Schmidt’s Nb Cooper S at 1293cc.
Thankyou to the Allan, David, Lloyd Shaw and Ian Maud from our club, and to John Bryant and all our mates at the Gippsland Car Club who volunteered with the running of this prestigious event. It’s obviously a mammoth undertaking to host the National Titles, but from a competitor’s point of view it all ran very smoothly in an atmosphere of competitive camaraderie and friendly sportsmanship.
Video – A lap of the circuit with Steve’s Cooper S.
Photographs from John Weymouth, John Althuizen and Ian Grinter