Event Report
Rfeda – 2015 National Spanish Hillclimb Championship – Round 1
Subida Arona Escalona – Tenerife

As this was the first round and we’d had a fairly poor start to the year in 2014 we decided we should be there even though it was going to be a logistical nightmare in transporting everything from the UK, but “You have to be in it to win it” as they say.
The main sponsors for the event were a company called Armass, the ferry operators from mainland Spain to the Canary islands, so we thought we would receive some planning an transport help if not a discounted fare. As it turned out we received neither from or indeed any help from the event organisers, not what was expected. We had hoped to be able to load the truck and trailer with car in at the port in Cadiz and meet it at the other end in Santa Cruz in Tenerife and vice versa. The crossing is 3 days and nights in each direction, the answer to this was a most definite No! The vehicle and trailer must be accompanied in both directions, and by the same person each way. None of the team had either the time or the wish to sit it out, plus the return ferry wasn’t until 5 days after the end of the event, so another 5 days to sit and wait before the return journey.
I in an effort to seek an answer to the problem, knowing that to compete in the Tenerife event would improve our chances of a top 3 finish in the championship, made contact with the chairman of the Andalusia Classic car club of which I am a member to request his help. He sent out an e mail to his substantial number of members to see if anybody would be willing to give up 12 days of their time. Thankfully a true Gent put his hand up and freely offered his services, Dave Oliver what a star man he turned out to be as well as a great help on the event, an extra pair of hands is always welcome, Dave was sited at the start line, some 1.5 kilometres away from the service area, to radio back to the crew when to strip off the tyre warmers, drop the car off the jacks and arrive at the start no more than a minute or two before our allocated start time.
All started well and there was great interest in the car from the locals and great interest from the National Spanish Radio station, equivalent to Radio 1 in the UK, and the local TV network, I wish my Spoken Spanish was much better! It is the first time anyone has ever heard of a Ginetta let alone seen of one.

It turned out that nobody else who had entered the touring car category of the championship had decided to make the effort to travel to Tenerife for the event everyone has to drop one score anyway, excellent for us, potentially maximum points if we were to win the event and a head start in the championship over everyone else. This has its benefits as he or she who leads is seeded car one in the category and with reverse seeding is the last to commence the climb, thereby knowing fairly instantaneously how those ahead have done. We will effectively, if no breakdowns, run through the year in this position. We will take any help we can get being up against far superior cars, the usual GT3 Porsches and the Mosler of Borregeuro who won the championship in 2014 and a host of others including a number of World rally cars, all of which are far quicker than the Ginetta.

Enrique Cruz ahead of me on the run to the Start line in his rapid GT3

Last year the scoring system was based on scores from all 3 timed runs, 10 per run for a class win and 15 per run for an overall win, total 3 x 25 points being the maximum possible. This year the rules have changed and the maximum points that can be achieved is 25 for a win and 20 for a second place, 16 for 3rd, based on fastest time of the 3 runs, which means just 1 run will do from each day. You must finish on each day, Saturday and Sunday to be eligible to score.
Saturday started pretty badly for us, the first run being the unofficial practice run, untimed but timed if you know what I mean, the second run is the official timed practice run and the final run is the run that counts towards the scoring.
The car cut out just about 50 metres from the start line, The oil pressure sensor as it turned out was faulty, a new unit fitted on a couple of events prior. Luckily we had a spare in the truck but it meant we missed the first and important practice which is utilised to gauge tyre pressures and temperatures for the following runs. We made the next official practice run, and a pretty good run and fastest time by some 3 seconds.
Feeling a bit happier, we settled down following the panic of getting to the bottom of the problems, and prepared for the final run. I actually thought the official timed run was a better attempt than the practice and was hoping for a 2 or 3 second improvement which to be honest is the norm especially with a new set of tyres fitted, but it wasn’t the case. My time was only 0.5 seconds quicker but worst of all the Porsche of Enrique Cruz, the current Canary Islands Rally Champion of 2014 had pipped me by some 2.8 seconds and grabbed 1st place. Gutted but it turned out later that he hadn’t actually registered for the championship so I would receive 20 points from my 2nd position and nobody would have more. Happy again.
Sunday was a nightmare following the official practice run, which put us 2nd fastest again behind the Porsche with a similar margin. The next two runs were both counters towards the final points award, one of them had to be completed to score from the weekend.
Start of the 1st official timed run, the car lost all drive, something went bang!. We rolled back to the service area to check out the problem. As it turned out the nearside halfshaft had snapped and a CV joint had disintegrated. Having been told that nobody had experienced a half shaft go, the weak point being the CV joints, we didn’t have a spare, crazy I know. We did however have replacement CV joints so what to do, our weekend ruined and no score towards the championship. One hell of an expense and effort for nothing.
Neil and Dani my two supermechanico’s said all is not lost and set too to weld the driveshaft, saying that all I had to do was drive the hill, 4.4 kilometres, carefully, and get to the finish, Even if in last place we would come away with the 20 points. A bit of a tall order with a 1050 kilo car, some 400 BHP to control, navigating 16 hairpin bends up a 1 in 10 gradient hoping the weld would hold!
Unbelievably it held and I very carefully in 3rd gear made it all the way from the start-line across the finishline.
20 points, and a true Brit in a truly British car now leading the Spanish Hillclimb Championship – I’ll take that!

Next event Subida Estepona 11/12th/ April