Our i30 N claims top step at a hill­climb; the Type R climbs even big­ger hills

Hyundai’s hot­tie raises eye­brows against the clock

Motor (Australia) - - POWER. PERFORMANCE. PASSION. -

TRACK DAYS are fan­tas­tic fun, but they can be a bit hard on the gear. Very, very few stan­dard pro­duc­tion cars can with­stand a full day at the track with­out need­ing a new set of tyres, brakes or both, not to men­tion the heavy fuel con­sump­tion. Thank­fully, there are myr­iad other ways to get a com­pet­i­tive fix that are eas­ier on both your car and wal­let. Th­ese in­clude au­tocrosses, mo­torkhanas and this month’s topic, hill­climbs. Gen­er­ally slow speed and short in du­ra­tion, brake and tyre wear are min­i­mal and tem­per­a­tures are al­ways un­der con­trol. The an­nual Kyne­ton Car Club hill­climb at Bryant Park – more com­monly known as Haunted Hills – in Vic­to­ria’s Gipp­s­land re­gion is the per­fect ex­am­ple. For the grand to­tal of $100 each com­peti­tor re­ceives eight runs of around 60-70sec split evenly across two dif­fer­ent track lay­outs. The low level of me­chan­i­cal stress is ev­i­dent in the in­cred­i­ble va­ri­ety of cars com­pet­ing, ev­ery­thing from well­worn Subaru WRXs on semi-slicks to a Holden VE Calais fam­ily hauler to var­i­ous Ja­panese and Euro­pean 1980s rear-driv­ers. And a show­room­fresh Hyundai i30 N. A hel­met and an in­ter­nally mounted fire ex­tin­guisher

PEO­PLE UN­DER­ES­TI­MATE THE CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES OF MOD­ERN PER­FOR­MANCE CARS

are the only safety re­quire­ments and if en­ter­ing a brand-new car in a com­pet­i­tive event seems risky, con­sider that un­like a track day, where there are other cars and driv­ers to worry about, at a hill­climb the only way dam­age could oc­cur is if the driver makes a ma­jor mis­take. Mis­takes, mi­nor ones at least, are hard to avoid in hill­climbs. Kyne­ton’s for­mat is such that each com­peti­tor’s best run on each track lay­out is com­bined for their fi­nal time, al­le­vi­at­ing the pres­sure of nail­ing ev­ery run. Nev­er­the­less, the need to push hard from the very first me­tre, usu­ally with cold tyres and brakes, re­quires fo­cus, es­pe­cially as the times are of­ten close enough that an over­shoot or half-spin will re­sult in tum­bling down the or­der. MO­TOR long-ter­m­ers have pre­vi­ous form at the Bryant Park Hill­climb; I ran my Peugeot 208 GTi here in 2014 and it fin­ished a cred­i­ble sixth outright. The track’s tight con­fines and con­stant turns favour grip, agility and trac­tion, though a bit of power doesn’t go astray. With such a di­verse ar­ray of cars, it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to have ex­pec­ta­tions, but I was hope­ful the i30 N’s turbo torque, elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled LSD, strong brakes and outright grip would al­low it to be at least com­pet­i­tive. Two slow sight­ing laps are al­lowed in con­voy to un­der­stand the track lay­out, but the first com­pet­i­tive run is still con­ser­va­tive, with brak­ing points and outright grip lev­els still un­known. Still, its 66.61sec open­ing salvo is quick­est by 1.21sec, rais­ing a few eye­brows. The near­est com­pe­ti­tion is Ian John­ston’s home-built Toy­ota Lex­cen, which doesn’t sound too im­pres­sive un­til you dis­cover it has a 6.6-litre su­per­charged V8 pro­duc­ing well over 500kW, a cus­tom all-wheel drive sys­tem, in­de­pen­dent rear end, ABS, trac­tion con­trol – the works. It’s a mon­ster, but Bryant Park brings to mind Nel­son Pi­quet’s quote about driv­ing an F1 car at Monaco be­ing like “rid­ing a bi­cy­cle in your liv­ing room”. The i30 im­proves to 65.05sec on the sec­ond run, but Ian closes the gap to 0.54sec – too close for com­fort. Thank­fully, a lit­tle ex­tra com­mit­ment re­sults in a 63.67sec to se­cure the quick­est time. On­look­ers are shocked at the speed of this hum­ble Hyundai, but they un­der­es­ti­mate the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of mod­ern per­for­mance cars and the pace of their de­vel­op­ment. The i30 N’s ef­fort is 3.7sec quicker than the 208 GTi – it­self a rea­son­ably po­tent lit­tle hot hatch – man­aged four years ago in al­most iden­ti­cal con­di­tions. On the sec­ond track lay­out that gap widens to four sec­onds. By now, the Nissan R33 GTS-t of Matt Beardall has joined the fight at the front. Un­for­tu­nately, the i30 N is rel­e­gated to third on this track lay­out, but it’s in­cred­i­bly close, just 0.25sec sep­a­rat­ing the best runs of a stock front-drive four-cylin­der hot hatch, mod­i­fied rear­wheel drive six-pot coupe and wild V8 all-wheel drive sedan, the com­mon thread be­ing driv­ers do­ing their best to squeeze the max­i­mum out of them­selves and their ma­chines. In the fi­nal re­sults, the i30 se­cures vic­tory, its com­bined time – the best run from each track lay­out – edg­ing Beardall by just 0.96sec. The true hero of the day was the Hyundai’s ESP sys­tem. On cold tyres, the i30 N wasn’t afraid to wag its tail on Bryant Park’s ini­tial fast down­hill run; set to Sport the ESP pro­vided enough lee­way to pre­vent time loss while straight­en­ing the ship on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions when the driver’s am­bi­tion out­weighed his abil­ity. With­out that safety net, I sim­ply wouldn’t have had the con­fi­dence to push as hard. Speaking of push­ing hard, next month it’s time for some track work. –

BE­LOW The i30 N bask­ing in the glow of vic­tory, hav­ing suc­cess­fully con­quered the twists of Bryant Park

01 ONE i30 N likes to over­steer when trail­ing the brakes down­hill – ESP to the res­cue on oc­ca­sion

02 TWO Ian John­ston built this in­cred­i­ble Toy­ota Lex­cen in his shed. On faster tracks it’s un­touch­able

03 THREE Matt Beardall tamed the power of this R33 GTS-t, get­ting faster all day and wind­ing up sec­ond outright

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