The 2016 Reynella Mazda SA Hillclimb Championships were run at the Collingrove Hillclimb complex from the 16thto the 18th of September. With torrential rain falling for well over a week before the event, the grounds were quite waterlogged causing rivers of water to flow across the track in a number of places. This meant that the track would be proven to have very inconsistent grip over the whole weekend, meaning that times would be slower than usual.
The weekend started with a practice day on Friday starting at 12 noon, and just over 30 of the 115 entries took up the offer to hone their skills on a very technical track in less than perfect conditions. Many of these were interstate drivers who only visit for the state or national titles, or had never driven the track before.
With the chance of unlimited runs in the within the 4 hour session, a number of drivers took the opportunity to really familiarise themselves with the track & conditions. Many of these were in open wheeler on slick tyres and I am sure that there were several anxious moment for each of them.
With showers forecast for Saturday most drivers were a little apprehensive about their runs, but I think in hindsight that a fully wet track would have been easier to handle albeit slower than the conditions that we were presented with. The rain held off though and it was even quite sunny, meaning that Saturday ended up being the day that most of the competitors fastest times would be set.
With the prevailing track conditions, it wasn’t long into the first run of the day that the Lynas Ford recovery vehicle was called for the first of many rescues over the weekend, with it not uncommon for it to be called on again, before getting back into its usual position. The ground off the track was so slippery that on 1 occasion, a second vehicle was required to tow the recovery 4WD back on to the track. Part way into run 1 Rod March went wide on a corner , hit a gutter coming out of the wall, severely damaging the front of his Mazda RX7.
Unbeknown to Rod, was that the damage included severe damage to all his oil coolers, causing a huge trail of oil from the point of impact right to the finish line. His first realisation that something was seriously wrong was when his oil light came on as he was crossing the line. Unfortunately this saw quite a lengthy delay as the clean up crew worked feverously to get the event running again. Even with all the delays, competitors ended up with 6 runs s
Saturday due to the truly efficient work of all the volunteers and officials, with the open wheelers setting the fastest times. Once again it was Greg Ackland in the Ninja GA8 that was quickest setting a blistering time in the conditions of 31.09 seconds on his third run of the day, with the South Australians, Derek Foster & David Mahon in a Suzuki Special & Ninja GA7 holding down 2nd & 3rd.The V8 Judd powered Dallara of Dean Tighe held 4th just ahead of 3 times Australian Hillclimb champion, Malcolm Oastler on his first visit to Coliingrove.
The fastest “tin top” was Craig Van Diemen in his Mitsubishi Evo 8RS in 11th place. The big purple hillclimb monster 6.6litre AWD 260Z f Kevin Makrell could only manage 13th with a 34.21 second run before breaking a driveline shaft on run 3. Unfortunately for Kevin, and all the spectators, this mishap brought his weekend to an end as the most popular car was put back on the trailer.
With the 6 runs completed the competitors and officials congregated in the clubrooms for a delicious gourmet barbeque and a bit of dancing to a local band. There may even have been a little social drinking and yarn telling too I have been told, with some of those tales getting more elaborate as the night wore on. With CAMS officials breath testing most of the drivers & officials over the weekend, I am sure all drinking was done very responsibly.
Sunday morning dawned to a cloudy day and it became very obvious that little improvement on Saturdays times was likely, and this is exactly what transpired, with many of the open wheelers sitting the morning session out due to the conditions. With fewer recoveries required than on the previous day, there was a chance for a further5 runs on Sunday, bringing it to a total of 11 runs over the 2 days.
What great work from all involved for that to be a possibility in very trying circumstances. All but 1 position from Saturday remained the same with any improvements in time not being sufficient to gain any places.
After the Chamionship concluded a top ten shoot out was held with the fastest 5 open wheeler cars & the fastest 5 Tin tops vying off against each other for bragging rights. due to the poor conditions, and the fast approaching Australian Championships, several of the eligible competitors declined the invitation, so drivers a little further down the list were given the opportunity, and eventually both fields were selected.
In the top ten shootout, the drivers time was compared to their personal best of the weekend, so any one of them had a realistic chance of success. This was followed by Dean Tighe doing a demonstration run in the Judd powered Dallara with the traction control switched off.
The noise was music to our ears as he screamed up the hill for 1 last time.
Results SA Hillclimb Championships
1st and SA Hillclimb Champion – Greg Ackland (Vic) Ninja GA8 31.09 secs
2nd place overall – Derek Foster (SA) White Suzuki Glen White 31.33 secs
3rd – David Mahon (SA) Ninja GA7 31.36 secs
4th – Dean Tighe (Qld) Dallara Judd F326 31.64 secs
5th – Malcolm Oastler (NSW) OMS 28 31.94 secs
6th – David Pfeiffer (SA) Mallock U2 32.82 secs
7th – Ronald Hay (NSW) Synergy Dallara 33.65 secs
8th – Angus Mitchell (SA) Mallock Clubman 33.72 secs
9th – Kurt Krassnitzer (SA) Pro Sport Mulsanne 33.77 secs
10th – Alan Foley (Vic) Dallara F398 33.87 secs
11th (fastest tin top) – Craig Van Diemen (SA) Mitsubishi Evo 8RS 33.92 secs
Fastest female Competitor – Sarah Pfieffer Mallock U2 35.79 secs