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Mt Ngongotaha Hill Climb


Round 1

It was a gray overcast drizzly morning when I opened the curtains and looked out the window. Way in the distance I could see the clouds were getting lighter and day was going to get better.
With all the gear in the car, my son and me drove down to Rotorua to the first of three hill climbs up Ngongotaha. On the way down I was wondering how slippery the road would be and how would my new Hancook 2000 tyres would perform or should I have left on my road tyres. Too late to worry about that now. We arrived and looked around at the RX7's, Nissan Pulsar and a lot of other fast cars in race or rally trim.
I entered the family saloon class and had the car scrutinised and documentation completed. Soon after a drivers briefing we went on a reconnaissance run up the hill. A one way road with numerous bends, a bank on one side and a fence on the other that looks out to a sky view most of the way. The road was sealed all the way up to a lookout 757 meters above sea level and has been patched up in a few places . Moss covering the road in many places.
My first practice run in the rain was almost uneventful, checking out the slipperyness of the road in a time of 1 : 15:1 for the 1:2km run. To try and get some heat into the tires, I reduced the pressures to 22 all round and produced my first official run of 1:13:83 . My second run nearly had me off at a place called Scotty's corner as many years ago he went off here in a major way. It is what I call a double corner and it comes just after a straight where cars are going very quickly. You think you are around the corner and hello, there is another sharper corner to negotiate. Fortunately I just went off onto the only 3 metre wide grass edge on the run and was able to drive out of it. My time was 1:13:96.
A Truno GT driver also had a good run of which 1:14 sec was his best time for the day. As mud was now smeared around all the left hand corners and I was determined to have a good third run so I kept to the middle of the road and powered up the hill . At Scotty's I kept it wide and held it wide till I could just see round the corner, the spectators were probably thinking that it might be a good time to move as it appeared that I was aiming straight for them and might not stop. Around I went and up the to the last two corners where a couple of cars had nudged the bank earlier in the day. I felt I had a good run with a time of 1:11:37, I was happy with this time as it is only 3 seconds off my best time on a dry road.
Back at the Rotorua Car Club rooms to discuss the days events on how the 14 cars went I ended up being 14th overall and 1st in the Family saloon class. The fastest car on the day was a racing RX7 with a time of 1:03:00

Round 2.

What a better looking day Ngongontaha round 2 appeared to be , overcast sky, a little wind and no rain. After the usual pleasantries I find the Truno car had arrived so I go and have a chat "What have you done since last time ." "Nothing " I replied "and You" "Tuned up the car ,pulled off some parts and put some new ones on, borrowed some racing tyres, and put on a LSD." It was going to be a good day. My object was to better my time from last year of 1:08. By changing only the tyres and brake pads
.In practice I had a good run with a time I didn't expect of 1:08:68 The Truno 1:08:60. Close timing . He was determined to beat me. From past experience the practice time was always my fastest. I wasn't going to let it happen again.
After two more runs of 1:07s , I was determined to put in a good last run . Up I went and trying to think ahead of each corner. At Scotty's I came in too fast and came out too wide, just going off the road on to the grass edge and back on to the road. I completed the run in 1:06:72.I was extremely pleased .How fast was the Truno?

MR2 1:08:68 1:07:17 1:07:15 1:06:72
Truno 1:08:60 1:07:91 1:07:25 1:06:95
Difference :08 :74 :10 :23
How close was that? And how would round 3 turn out ?

Round 3

Another beautiful summers day. 24 cars turned up for the final Hill climb round . 4 cars entered in the Family saloons. My MR2, the Truno that had been close to my time every run, a 2.6 Lt. Mite station wagon and a Toyota Levin . It was going to be an interesting day for me.
My first practice run of 1 :08: 72 Truno 1:09:04
Each run was run in 2 groups due to lack of parking at the top and to allow for duel drivers. After 2 official runs in the 1: 07 s, I decided to check out Sottys corner and watch the cars till it was the last groups turn. Interesting everyone seemed to have a different idea of how to take this corner. Now it was my turn, I noticed the Truno had not come up with the previous group. I had a good run and came to Scotty's corner and took the lines I thought would be best -- not bad- and up to the finish line. 1:05:80. My best time ever, I was wrapped, as I didn't think I would achieve a time below 1:06: Now where is the Truno. I knew it was right behind me at the start line. Five cars came up and then the Truno. He decided to stay and find out my time. When he did, his jaw dropped, so he decided to drive down the hill to warm up his tires a bit more. It worked for him 1:05:68 -- BUGGER- beaten by.12 sec.
MR2 1:08:72 1:07:70 1:07:53 1:05:80
Truno 1:09:04 1:07:29 1:07:69 1:05:68
Difference :32 :41 :16 :12
As you can see there wasn't much in it all day

He was 1st for the day in the saloons and second overall for the series. I came 1st overall.
The fastest car on the day was a race prepared RX7 in a time of 56:45. The surprise of the day for me was a young lad in a Nissan Pulsar GTIR with a time of 1:01:46. Being the first time in a hill climb and compared to another Pulsar 58: of which $20,000 has been spent on the car.
The best times for some of the other cars are:-
Honda racing car 59:46
Skyline GTST 1:00:38
Escort rally car 1:04:52
RX7 1:04:70
RX7 1:05:87
RX3 rally car 1:08:93

PS I went for a w.o.f. the following week and the car was failed. Front shocks leaking and rear shocks tired that will require replacing soon. I know what my next project is now.

Donel Svendsen