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Subida Penas Blancas Estepona 2015 – 11/12th April – Andalusia

Event Report

Rfeda – National Spanish Hillclimb Championship – Round 2

Subida Penas Blancas  Estepona 2015 – 11/12th April – Andalusia

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The start line all dry at the bottom of the hill.

A later than preferred arrival to Malaga from a family break meant a lack of training for the weekend which was a bit of concern, but luckily this was not the case.

The car thankfully was in good form as Neil had gone out a couple of days before the event to prepare the car. He’d left nothing to chance.

The weather forecast for the weekend was not promising and true to form rain ensued from half way up the route which caused a fair amount of concern amongst the mostly Spanish drivers entered in the event. There was great indecision amongst all as to what tyres to run in practise which for me was a very strange issue, slicks don’t truly work very well in the wet, but wets will work OK in the dry, as long as you don’t push them too hard. True to form and as expected those who chose slicks slipped off the road causing as well as a fair degree of damage, Tineo the local superstar being one of them sliding off and rolling his newly acquired Mitsubishi Evo X, and surprisingly last years Spanish champion Borregeuro in his mighty Mosler who rearranged his very expensive carbon fibre front end, both causing a fair delay pushing the event further back into the day and potentially worsening weather. I think 5 or so cars went off on the first practise run, an unofficial training session but for some an expensive end to the weekends event. The Mosler was repairable but the Mitsubishi most definitely not.

 

The entry list in my category, touring cars, was a strong field of a good mix of group N,  N+(? Can somebody tell me what the + stands for?) , Group A, GT and WRC vehicles along with S2000 screamers and a few historics, in Spain anything over 20 years old is considered historic, I guess that makes me Jurassic! 

The first practise, 3rd quickest, in fact I caught the car in front of me on the finish line, he set off 30 seconds ahead of me. On closer inspection he set off on slicks, and he being the eventual touring car category winner Janssens. I was somewhat puzzled by his choice of tyre as the organisers posted that it was classed as a wet race, mind you he was a very experienced Rally cross driver in his homeland of Belgium in past times so maybe he just enjoyed driving sideways! I believe he did entertain the throngs of spectators who had braved the wet and cold weather to come and witness the spectacle.

Second, and official timed practise was again posted as a wet race so I remained on the wets, this time I think a few lessons had been learnt and everyone did the same so there was some decent times amongst the leaders to compare against, but 4th fastest time overall and 2nd GT.

It was extremely slippy and as such a great amount of care was needed, it wouldn’t be difficult to leave the road, especially over the last 2 km’s of the climb.

On the last and official run It had stopped raining and as such full wets wasn’t the best choice but out of that or slicks we stuck to wets to attempt to similarly stick to the road! Intermediates would have been the best choice but as we didn’t have any, wets it was. I need to invest in some inters, as I did with spare driveshafts the week earlier. You do know that Motorsport translated means moneywasting? Especially in my wifes mind anyway.

 

I thought I was able to predict the outcome of the weekend event and my money was on a Borreguero Mosler win followed by Janssens in his Jet Joker sponsored Porsche GT3,third Panella  in the Mitsubishi and fourth would be a scrap between Cordero and Maldonado in their Porsche GT3’s, Aldo in his Cordoba WRC and myself. As it turned out Cordero’s gearbox had let him down whilst testing during the week and he hadn’t enough time to repair it before the weekend so he was a no Show. I was hoping to nail the fourth spot and 3rd GT to retain my championship lead so had some work to do, the other cars being much more capable and powerful than mine. I’d liked the event the previous year and the car performed well over the 7.4 km run in 2014 until the engine blew so was hopeful that i could keep ahead of the opposition. (This year the route had been  extended to 8 km by moving the start line closer to the service area, and in so doing adding a fast slippery section of road that I predicted would catch someone out, and it did leaving Bernado’s newly acquired Radical RS3 with a broken nose) 

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 From Front to rear Janssens, Panella, Aldo de Alberto and Maldonado at the end of the Hillclimb.

The last run was the important one as this was the one that counted towards the points, referred to as Carrera 1, the first  of three official timed runs. There was mixed reports as to the weather conditions over the last 3 kilometres from our spotters made up of our Escuderia club members, and being close to Malaga there were many! some said it was raining in parts, some said it wasn’t but the road was still wet from earlier and as such I was left to make a call as to which tyres to choose, the organisers yet again posted it as a wet race so airing on the cautious side I wrongly stayed on the wets. As it turned out the road surface was fairly dry and it wasn’t raining, yes in places it was a bit damp and slippy but not enough to warrant wets which most had chosen, if I’d have chosen slicks I would have undoubtedly been quicker but hindsight is a wonderful thing if you have it.

Never mind as the forecast for Sunday was predicted to be a dry and sunny day, meaning much improved times, and this being the case, as long as there were no malfunctions or driver brain fades Saturdays times would be meaningless under the new rules. The two fastest Carrera’s times of the three  over the weekend were combined and the lowest total time would be the winner.So  all was not lost as we’d dropped into 6th place and 4th GT on the 1st carrera, others having chosen Slicks ahead of me, Panella was unsurprisingly the quickest being in a four wheel drive car beating  Janssens by 5 seconds, with Maldonado (Porsche GT3 ) in third, Borregiero fourth and Aldo de Alberto in the Cordoba in fifth, all of which had chosen slicks except Maldonado who had intermediates.

Sunday as predicted was dry but most definitely not sunny and being an early start there was no way the road conditions would have changed much from the evening prior, but most definitely slicks were needed, morning dew was very much present.

Now please someone tell me why but on the first Sunday run, the official practice before the two Carrera’s why Janssens an extremely rapid and experienced driver chose to remain on wet tyres and as such was demolished by all others in contention, we were second fastest and 1st GT (0.6 seconds behind Panella), Maldonado 3rd 0.8 seconds behind me, Borregiero (Mosler) 4th  2 seconds behind and Janssens in 5th which was very encouraging for the rest of the day and beyond my prediction.

 I was not, though under any illusion that I could beat Janssens or Borreguero and sure enough he posted a brilliant time on the 2nd Carrera, an amazing 4.35, Borreguero 4.40, Panella 4.42, Myself 4th on 4.44, Aldo 4.49 and Maldonado 4.54 (Reporting a slight spin on a hairpin). All good enough to secure my third position in the GT category. Only one last run to do and all to play for so a measured drive was needed, I having a 10 seconds buffer over Maldonado in 4th place so nothing dramatic necessary.

The last run was as predicted except for myself, my time slowed by some 2 seconds which is unusual and apart from a couple of slightly over sideways moments i couldn’t understand why as times usually improve as the weekend progresses, but I think one of my team had adjusted the suspension settings without my knowledge upsetting the handling of the car, I know not why? But thankfully we finished under the 10 second buffer over Maldonado to retain third place.

A great event, a great road and next year this will be a round of the European championship so for sure we will return in 2016.

 

 

 

Next event Subida Ubrique 26/27th April www.escuderiasur.es