NZ Hillclimb title to Penrose

NZ Hillclimb title to Penrose. Photo: Geoff Ridder

Matt Penrose has won the 2017-18 New Zealand Hillclimb Championship title after a nail-biting finish in the Hawke’s Bay over the weekend. Runner up was local Quentin Palmer (Mitsubishi EVO 5), with Pukekohe’s Michael Sanderson (Toyota Hyabusa Starlet) third overall as well as taking out the 2wd title.

It is the second consecutive title for the 26-year-old aircraft engineer from Canterbury driving his Subaru Impresza WRX.

“I’m really happy with the weekend,” commented Penrose. “It was touch and go for a time but happy to come away with the title.”

It wasn’t straight forward for Penrose who rolled his Subaru on the first day while making his third run on the Glengarry Rd tarmac climb, having already set the quickest time on his second run.

“I wanted to get the biggest gap I could on the seal before Sunday’s gravel run,” said Penrose.

I was already two seconds up on the last run but unfortunately rolled two-thirds of the way through.”

While a certain amount of panel damage was sustained, it was the right front of the car that needed the most attention.

“The guys up there in the Bay were fantastic and got us a workshop with a hoist for Saturday night. Nathan Tough organised a lot of help, particularly in getting some much needed parts and making it all happen.

“We got the job done and didn’t get much sleep but we were able to start again on Sunday and the car drove pretty well so we were very lucky.”

Penrose had set the quickest time on the tarmac on Saturday but it was Hawkes Bay local Quentin Palmer who immediately set the fastest time on gravel on the Sunday at Pohokura Rd. Having finished second quickest on the tarmac on Saturday, Palmer needed to be well ahead of Penrose at the end of the day.

“For our final run, we need to be as close as possible to Quentin,” commented Penrose. “I knew we needed to be under four seconds away from his best time. In other words we needed to go flat out so I gave it everything and didn’t hold anything back.

“It was a fast run and quite on the edge. I didn’t even have time to think about the roll the day before.”

In the end Palmer proved quickest on the gravel but Penrose was under a second behind, enough to claim his second NZ Hillclimb title.