Saturday, November 24

HAMPTON IS KING OF THE HILL

Ryan Hampton took his 2008 Castrol Honda CBR1000R Superbike to a 
New Zealand hill climb record at Bluff on November 22.

By Michael Esdaile

CHRISTCHURCH Superbike racer Ryan Hampton can lay legitimate claim to being the King of the Hill after taking out the Bluff Hill Climb for the third year in succession at the Burt Munro Challenge weekend in Southland on November 22.

Not only did Hampton blast his Castrol-backed Hampton Honda CBR1000R to a new course record of 44.74 seconds in his first timed pass up the serpentine 1.4 kilometre section of closed off public road, he took out the New Zealand Hill Climb Championship for the third straight year.

Hampton had set the previous record, 45.99 seconds, using wet weather tyres on a slippery damp surface last year.

This was the first year he had ridden in sunshine on a dry course with no wind.  In fact, after battling the weather as well as the challenging course for the past two years, the riders enjoyed clear skies and sunshine, which put some heat into what is usually a cold surface.

Hampton actually recorded a faster time than his record in his last practice run but that did not count.  It was the officially timed runs that mattered.

With a perfect launch on his first NZ Championship run, Hampton aviated the Honda’s front wheel and kept it hovering above the ground as he power-shifted up through the gears then made a beautiful arcing pass through the first corner.  As he exited the right-hander, his rear slick spun furiously as it went over the crown of the road and the Honda was speedway sliding off the turn.  Hampton then wicked it up further, snapped the Fireblade onto its rear wheel, and disappeared from view, just the wail of the four cylinder 1000cc engine denoting his progress to the top.

Although Hampton was racing in the Open class, the locals with their Motard bikes had their sights well and truly on the Superbike man.  Oamaru’s Chris Manson made no bones about it – the 600 class win would be nice, but overall honours was what he was focused on.  Last year he had been three seconds off Hampton’s record, riding a Honda CR500 two-stroke.  This year he had an American FTZ big bore kit fitted, which with a 97mm Wiseco piston, took the big two-stroke close to the 600cc class limit.

The big-bore CR500 engine Jason Feaver built 
for Chris Manson proved a winner...
Manson said former Southlander Jason Feaver had built the engine for him but in a test run it had nipped up the piston.  He had cured that and was ready to go hard, but so too was Feaver on an almost identical bike, Winton Honda dealer Brent Scammell (CRF450) and Greg Baynes (505cc KTM 450SX-F).

After Hampton laid down that record breaking 44.74 second first pass, the 600 class men knew they would have to do something unbelievable to match it.  In their first run, Scammell was fastest with a 47.45 second effort with Manson stopping the clocks at 48.25 and Feaver clocking in with a 48.67 while Baynes was fourth in class on 50.55.

In the second set of runs, Hampton had a big moment on some cement dust that had not been properly swept away in an effort to dry up a water weep in one corner.  The result was a 49.93 second pass.  The Motard men then upped their game, Manson ripping off a stunning 47.42 to Feaver’s 48.03 while Scammell went more than a second slower than his first run with a 48.67.  Once again Baynes was fourth with 49.05.

As good as the Motard men were, it was hard to see them suddenly trimming another two and a half seconds off their times in their third and final run.  The question was, could Hampton go faster still?

The Christchurch rider answered that question in the negative with a 46.49 second final effort.  Feaver then literally smoked off the line and in a super effort, ran a 46.94.  Scammell couldn’t match that so it was left to Manson to try to grab the 600cc class honours as it was pretty obvious the fastest overall time for the day would stay safely in Hampton’s hands.


Jason Feaver smokes his 600cc two-stroke Honda CR500 hybrid off the line to a go close to taking class honours.
Driving really hard off the line with his weight well forward on the big two-stroke, Manson was looking good, with a fast time in the first section.  From there he dug deep and by the time he’d crossed the line at the top of Bluff Hill, he had managed a stunning 46.59 second pass.  That was better than Hampton’s final run, but still 1.85 seconds away from the outright record.

Still, there was no doubt it was the Motard men who were giving Hampton the greatest competition for outright honours, as the best of the rest in the Open class was Shane Livingston (Suzuki GSX-R1000) with a 49.32 second best effort.

How Hampton managed to scorch up Bluff Hill in just 44.74 seconds is something only he knows.

But without doubt, he is the King of the Hill!