With the Mazda Dealers of SA coming on board for this year’s state titles, there was a huge interest in South Australia’s premier hillclimb event for 2015, held over the weekend of the 12th & 13th of September. A huge field of 126 cars showed up to contest a large number of classes, and with the interest in the new Mazda MX5 around the traps, it was a great turnout with 12 entries in Mazda MX5s including Peter Emes in his brand new ND automatic model. Pete had stated early in the day that his first goal was to get below 41 seconds, and only once that was achieved would he lower the roof and enjoy the sunshine on what turned out to be a near perfect weekend. He achieved this on the 4th run of the day and less than 5 seconds later the manually operated roof was lowered and stored away. (And people keep asking if the MX5 has an electric roof. Why would you need one when it is so quick and easy to do manually?) The event saw 13 drivers travel from interstate, including Dean Tighe, who brought his F1 Judd V8 powered F3 Dallara down from Queensland for his first visit to Collingrove.
The runs got under way at about 9.45 on Saturday morning after about 30 drivers had an afternoon of practice the previous day. As usual the fiercely contested road registered category started proceedings with 26 cars entered in 7 classes. This category is designed to give drivers the opportunity to compete in their every day road car with minimal preparation required and very limited modification permitted. The field then progressed through the numerous classes until the fast cars and drivers hit the track in the open wheelers and hillclimb specials. Victorian, Greg Ackland set the early pace, with a 29.68 second run first up in his Ninja GA8. He continued to improve on this all day to finish with a 29.04 on his 6th run, at this stage looking near unbeatable. South Australian David Mahon (Ninja GA7) improved his personal best with a 29.31 to sit 2nd overnight and Dean Tighe finished the first day with a 29.74 second run to sit 3rd. One of the most impressive cars was Rene Felkl in his awesome 2.4 litre VW beetle, and he set a time of 33.62 seconds before blowing his gearbox late Saturday, forcing him to retire from the event. The Foster brothers were running strongly in the Suzuki special before Derek went off on run 3 breaking a suspension upright. They were able to return Sunday but did not fare much better when Allan had a sinilar mishap Sunday morning, bringing their event to a disappointing end.
Sunday morning saw a another glorious day and the competitors enjoyed a further 4 runs, before the top 10 shoot out commenced. Dean Tighe had made some adjustments to his car overnight and matched David Mahon’s overnight time on his first run of the morning. On his second run the previous car had an incident over the finish line, and Alan Foley was waving his arms madly as he sat backwards on the track as Dean approached. Dean obviously had to back off, which meant that a rerun was required. On this rerun, he shocked everyone when he blasted up the hill to stop the clock at 28.97 seconds, taking the outright lead in the event. He held this lead right up until Greg brought the Ninja out for his last run of the day (3rd to last car to run), and powered to a 28.88 run. With Dean running last, the pressure was surely on and his take off was impressive. Then going around the first left hander a miss gear change meant the event victory would be heading back to Victoria with last year’s runner up. With the excellent conditions, several class records were broken. Most notable would have to have been David Pfeiffer in the Mallock U2 owned by his father in law, when he finally beat a record held by that man in that car since 2003, and Scott Stephenson who bettered his own class record in the improved production Honda by nearly 2 seconds. Fletcher Bolton’s MX5 took the record that I have continually lowered in production sports 1601-300cc for the last 6 years, and Peter Emes also lost his long held prize in the 1301-1600 class to Charitha Shivanka’s Honda.
With the official competition completed, a shoot out was held between the 5 fastest sports/open wheelers and the 5 fastest tin tops, with a cash prize going to the driver that improved his best time of the weekend but the biggest percentage. With no records able to be broken, an unlimited number of tyre warming burnouts were allowed, but the track markers still came into play threatening disqualification to anyone the hit them. Greg Ackland, Dean Tighe, David Mahon, Alan Foley and David Pfeiffer battled for the sports cars, with David Pfeiffer taking the prize there, being the only driver to better his event times. With Craig Van Diemen, David Coombe, Philip Bunker and the father and son duo of John & Henry Beasley fighting out the tin top category, the chance for cash came to an early end for Philip once he spun out on his run. John won this battle from Henry, proving that maybe track experience does count for something.
It was another well run event thanks to the wonderful work of all our volunteers and officials, for not only running the event so well, but also for their hard work, preparing the venue to such a high standard.