25 JANUARY 2008
Bluff Hillclimb Most Competitive Ever
This year's Bay View Hotel Pub Charity Bluff "where the journey begins" Sealed Hillclimb is shaping up to be the most
competitive to date.
The third edition of the popular motorsport event will take place in Bluff tomorrow (Saturday 26 January) and the field
is a strong one.
Last year's winner, Glenn Frew of Outram, is back in his 450 horsepower Mitsubishi EVO with which he became the first to
climb the 1.6 kilometre Bluff Hill access road in under 1 minute last year. Frew arrived at last year's event earmarked
as a dark horse and proceeded to set the pace. His first run last year was just shy of the record set by 2006 winner
Ross MacKay of Ashburton. Two more runs followed that were tantalisingly close to the 1 minute barrier before he blasted
up the hill on his fourth and final run in 59.895 seconds, the winning time and so far the only sub-minute run up the
One of his chief rivals this time around will be last year's runner-up, Kaitangata driver Duncan McCrostie. McCrostie
drove a 2-wheel-drive Nissan Bluebird Turbo in 2007 recording an impressive time of 1 minute 03.218 seconds to head off
everyone except Frew. However McCrostie has a new car this year - an ex-Emma Gilmour Mitsubishi EVO built specifically
for Race To The Sky. McCrostie has adapted to the new car very quickly and finished runner-up to Gore driver Andrew
Graves at the recent Kaitangata Promotions Bob Scott Memorial Hillclimb. Frew was third at that event.
The result of the Kaitangata event is extremely significant as it was the first round of the Southern Twin Peaks
Challenge of which Bluff is the second and final round. The competitor who records the fastest time when their best
effort from both Kaitangata and Bluff are added together will win the challenge which carries with it a cash prize.
McCrostie's best time at Kaitangata was a 55.802 seconds while Frew's was a 56.681. The other major contenders for the
Twin Peaks Challenge prize are Gore driver Craig Abernethy and Dunedin's Brian Scott (son of well known Otago motorsport
identity the late Bob Scott after which the Kaitangata Hillclimb was named), both in EVO's. Abernethy finished fourth at
the South Otago event in 57.402 seconds while Scott was sixth in 58.729. This will be the first attempt at the Bluff
event for both.
Joining Frew, McCrostie, Abernethy and Scott in Class D for 4-wheel-drive cars is Gordon Beeby of Temuka. Beeby, who won
the Southern Sprint Series in the early 1990's, is bringing a supercharged Subaru Impreza WRX to the hill - an
Reigning champion Frew is typically laidback when asked about defending his title. "I'll give it a go," he say's.
"Duncan (McCrostie) will be hard to beat. To win the Southern Twin Peaks Challenge I would have to beat him by nearly a
Others entered at this stage include Invercargill driver Steve Heffernan in his Van Diemen RF92. The Van Diemen is a
single seater race car more at home on smooth race circuits such as Teretonga but Heffernan used the car to good effect
in 2006 when he finished second in 1 minute 04.477 seconds. Last year, in an older Van Diemen he set the fifth fastest
Last year's third placegetter, Chris Hey of East Taieri, returns in his Nissan SR20 Toyota MR2 Turbo in which he climbed
the hill in 1.03.439 last year. Hey also cracked the top ten at Kaitangata in the car. He is in Class C for
2-wheel-drive cars of 1601cc and over and his opposition includes last year's class winner Wayne Tuffley of Invercargill
in his Pre 65 Ford Mustang, Craig Jessop of Stirling in a Nissan Pulsar and Cromwell's Julian Prior-Stockwin in his
Class B for 2-wheel drive cars of 1301-1600cc includes Gore's Errol Hewlett in a Toyota Levin, Invercargill's Darryl
Scott in a Toyota powered Ford Escort and Phil Terry of Wrights Bush (Toyota Trueno).
Reigning Class A Champion (2-wheel drive cars 0-1300cc) Kevin Laird of Gore returns and will share a Suzuki Swift with
his father Roger. Meanwhile the other competitor from the Laird family, Roger's wife and Kevin's mother, Karen Laird
drives an older Suzuki. Their rivals include Balclutha's Paul Goatley in a Toyota Starlet, Ashburton driver Gary Cook in
a Suzuki GTi powered Starlet and Dave Robertson of Invercargill in a Hillman Imp.
The hillclimb utilises the road to the summit of Bluff Hill (Motu Pohue), a road that climbs to a height of 264 metres
above sea level. The cars climb through a steep twisty section
before a long uphill straight interrupted by two tight chicanes. That section is followed by another steep, twisty
section of road that takes the cars to the finish line.
The event is a joint project between Bluff Promotions assisted by the Eastern Southland Car Club and the Southland
Sports Car Club. It forms a part of both the Southland Sport Car Club's Speed Championship and the Eastern Southland Car
Club's Club Championship.
The road to the summit will be closed from 9.00am untiI 7.00pm for the event while the first high-speed runs will begin
at 11.00am. Each competitor will make four runs during the day with their fastest time establishing their overall
Refreshments and a licensed booth will be available at the foot of the hill where the cars can also be inspected
throughout the day.
The winner will take home the distinctive Bay View Hotel Pub Charity Bluff "where the journey begins" Sealed Hillclimb