Narrow miss for hillclimb title

Tauranga’s Phil Campbell has narrowly missed out on winning the New Zealand Hillclimb Championship two-wheel drive title after the national final in Wellington at the weekend.

Campbell came into the weekend just one point behind top South Island two-wheel drive qualifier Duncan McCrostie and with double points on the line for the final round there was everything to play for.

Phil Campbell races his Mirage. Photo: Greg Henderson.

The opening day’s hillclimb was held on a 3.9km gravel road near Upper Hutt and it was a steep uphill climb and suited Campbell and the Steel Sheds R Us/Letts Buildings Mitsubishi Mirage perfectly, setting the seventh fastest time overall and was more than eight seconds faster than his nearest two-wheel drive rival.

Sunday’s hillclimb was a 1.3km tarmac road based within the central city, meaning there were plenty of spectators.

Unfortunately for Campbell, the road required high horsepower and although the 25-year-old had a reasonable amount of grunt, his turbocharged rivals held a major advantage.

Campbell set a time that saw him third fastest in the two litre class, but McCrostie took the close-fought battle for the title.

“It was a good way to round out a good championship, it’s a shame that Duncan (McCrostie) beat us in the end but we enjoyed the series and will have another crack at it next year,” says Campbell.

“It was also really cool to see all the spectators out on Sunday with the event being in town.”

Campbell now looks forward to getting his third New Zealand Rally Championship campaign underway at Rally Whangarei on March 30-April 1, driving his Group N spec Ford Fiesta.


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