Action Images NZ


Matt Penrose on his way to the NZ Hillclimb Championship in his Subaru Impreza WRX


Canterbury's Matt Penrose is the New Zealand Goldstar Hillclimb Champion after winning both grand final events on the gravel and tarmac.

At two locations near Timaru, the top drivers from both the North and South Islands met for the final showdown.

enrose, 25, was the fastest driver over both days, and on both surfaces in his Subaru Impreza WRX, to win a trophy that was first awarded back in 1956.

One his way to the grand final, Penrose won two South Island qualifying rounds and then finished runner-up in two more.

Back in November last year when Penrose entered the first qualifying round, held locally, he had no intention of chasing the series or the title.

"I hadn't planned on entering the series but after I won the first round we decided to carry on," said Penrose.

The second event was held on tarmac at Coronet Peak and this was Penrose's first experience of tarmac hillclimbing.

Although he hadn't competed on a sealed road course in his Subaru Impreza, he is no stranger to going fast on a racetrack. Penrose is a back-to-back New Zealand Class B Formula Ford champion, almost ten years ago.

Matt began racing grass karts as a youngster before moving to track karting and then on to circuit racing in Formula Ford single-seater.

After taking a break from motorsport competition to concentrate on his career, Matt purchased the ex-Trevor Crowe Subaru Impreza to 'have a go' at local rally sprints and hillclimbs.

"I've slowly been upgrading the car since I got it. It was built in 1998 so the technology is a bit outdated by today's standards, but we're gradually improving it," he said.

While Penrose won the title in the end by a comfortable margin, winning the final two events was anything but easy.

On the 3km gravel test at Three Mile Bush, north-west of Timaru, Penrose's best time was 2.6-seconds quicker than Keith Anderson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) but come the tarmac test the following day on Mount Horrible Road, and the margin was a mere 0.28-seconds faster than Michael Tall (Mistubsihi Lancer Evo 2).

"The top 5 drivers were all within 1.2-seconds on the last day, so I was stoked to win both events and also take the New Zealand title," he said.

Penrose won the New Zealand Gold Star Hillclimb Championship ahead of Colin Goodwin (Bay of Plenty) in a similar Subaru and Southland's David Kirk (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6).

The Canterbury driver's hill climb programme was supported by Carters Tyres North Canterbury.

The winner's trophy was first presented to R A Gibbons in a Cooper-JAP in 1956. Among the well known former winners is Paul Adams (Ford Escort) 1980, Reg Cook (Datsun Sunny) 1981, Possum Bourne (Subaru Leone) 1984 and the late Kim Austin (Nissan Pulsar 4WD) 1992.

Matthew Penrose  027 333 7116