Volk­swa­gen Golf Bi-mo­tor

as Volk­swa­gen claimed a Good­wood hill climb record, Jochi Kleint re­lived his fate­ful 1987 Pikes Peak ti­tle tilt

Classic Cars (UK) - - Welcome -

While Volk­swa­gen claimed an­other hill climb record at Good­wood – the new IDR storm­ing up the hill in 43.05 sec­onds with Ro­main Du­mas at the wheel – it also show­cased its hill climb her­itage with the unique 1987 Golf Bi-mo­tor.

Re­stored by VW ear­lier this year, it was re­united with its orig­i­nal pi­lot, for­mer works rally driver Jochi Kleint, who re­called the firm’s as­sault on the great­est hill­climb of all – Pikes Peak in Colorado.

‘Volk­swa­gen was do­ing well in the US in the Eight­ies,’ Kleint ex­plained, ‘but it needed some­thing to re­ally build its im­age in mo­tor sport. An ex­per­i­men­tal rac­ing Jetta was built, but it was un­der­whelm­ing. Then some­one on the board said “why don’t we build a spe­cial Golf for Pikes Peak?” The Golf, known as the Rab­bit out there, was the firm’s big­gest sell­ing car in the US.

‘The twin-en­gine con­fig­u­ra­tion was cho­sen for chas­sis bal­ance, which is a real prob­lem on Pikes Peak, with its com­bi­na­tion of fast straights and ex­tremely tight turns. An in-house ri­valry in­stantly sprung up with Audi, which had dif­fer­ent ideas with its Sport Qu­at­tro. It made for an odd at­mos­phere, be­cause many of the me­chan­ics on these ri­val projects knew each other from their time with Audi’s Group B rally team. How­ever, the Golf’s chief en­gi­neer Kurt Beck­mann had come to Hanover from Vi­enna, where he ran his own mo­tor sport tun­ing busi­ness, Kaimann Rac­ing.

‘Both Audi and VW con­tested Pikes Peak in 1985, 1986 and 1987. In 1985, I came third and won Rookie of the Year while Michèle Mou­ton won in the Qu­at­tro. In 1986, I’d been post­ing faster times than Wal­ter Röhrl, but Bobby Unser’s Qu­at­tro won. It was dis­ap­point­ing but we knew the car could do it – with Hew­land F2 gear­boxes and a com­pact wheel­base, it was ca­pa­ble of 180mph.

‘In 1987, we re­ally went for the win. On a 300-me­tre climb, the en­gine can’t breathe as well at the top as it can at the bot­tom, re­sult­ing in a 30 per­cent power drop-off by the time you fin­ish. You have to con­cen­trate so hard.

‘The at­mos­phere at Pikes Peak is un­like any other mo­tor sport event. We ar­rived in our spe­cialised rally cars, but there was ev­ery­thing con­test­ing the hill climb – 4x4s, off-road bug­gies, old NASCARS, even mod­i­fied open-wheel Indycars on knob­bly tyres! Yet at its heart it’s the world’s great­est rally stage. The near­est thing we have in Europe is the Col di Turini, but even that doesn’t come close.

‘And yet, like the Col di Turini, in or­der to get it right you have to be able to vi­su­alise ev­ery cor­ner – on Pikes Peak you aren’t al­lowed a nav­i­ga­tor. My first prac­tice run was in a hire car and I took a tape recorder with me to record my own pace notes. That night, I went back to my ho­tel, played the tape back, closed my eyes, lis­tened and learnt the course in my mind.

‘It paid off. Once again, I posted faster times than Röhrl, but less than a mile from the fin­ish line, a sus­pen­sion ball joint failed and I lost a wheel. A grease cap had come off, dust had got in and caused some­thing to seize. Röhrl went on to win, but I knew that had that wheel not come off, it would have been this car that set the record.

‘It’s all aca­demic be­cause the fol­low­ing year Peu­geot en­tered with Ari Vata­nen and the even more spe­cialised 405 T16, com­pletely oblit­er­at­ing Audi’s times, and a new era of hill climb spe­cials be­gan. I can laugh about it all now, of course!’

Kleint’s twin-en­gined Golf at­tacks an­other fa­mous hill climb – and this time the wheels stay on

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.