New timing gear proves worth in tight contest

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

The South Otago Car Club’s new $27,000 timing gear worked perfectly to precisely record the tiny time gap that separated the annual Bob Scott Memorial Hill climb winner from the second place-getter late last month.

Balclutha rally driver and a previous winner of the event, Dean Bond (Mitsubishi Evo 6.5), held off determined challenges from a pair of new high›tech Cross Car drivers to win the event by just 1.28sec.

‘‘The feeling in the car after our last run was that it had been a quick one, so we were happy with the day,’’ he said.

Bond held off Jack Winter (Dunedin) and Mark Penrose (Christchurch) to record his fastest time of 1min 22.15sec on his fourth and final run.

The goal of the 18 drivers competing was to make the fastest run up a 1.8km gravel road at Kaitangata.

Each driver had four attempts and a wide variety of machines competed, ranging from Bob

Scott’s original 1960s-era open wheel classics to dedicated rally cars and new purpose›built hill climb buggies.

Overall, the road conditions were good, Bond said.

However, there were still some big rocks which posed a challenge; drivers navigated them, trying not to blow a tyre or damage their suspension.

‘‘The day went really well over the four runs we had, the organisers had graded the road beforehand which made it better — by taking the crown off the road it helped the guys in the classic cars.’’

Course clerk Janey Blair said the new timing gear performed very well.

When two cross car drivers raced up the hill on their final runs, the clock showed just how close the margins were.

“They went more than two seconds faster than before and knocked Chris Hey (Toyota MR2) of Dunedin off second spot,’’ she said.

‘‘They ended up just 0.5 of a second apart at the end.’’

Both Winter and Penrose were driving the new cross cars recently promoted by WRC rally ace Hayden Paddon as an affordable way to introduce younger drivers to motorsport.

Bond said that in recent months he had been working through some issues with the car, sorting out the turbo and the engine, but on Saturday it ran faultlessly.

“We should be all set for the Catlins, now,” he said.