Eight-time King of the Mountain Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima has confirmed he will pilot his 670 hp ‘Super 86’ hillclimb car for his return to New Zealand’s famed Repco Race to the Sky.
Developed from a Toyota GT86 sports car, Tajima’s version boasts a mid-mounted, 2977cc V6 twin-turbo engine, an over-sized rear wing, redesigned induction and exhaust layout and full tuning from the Japanese motorsport star’s own team, Monster Sport.
Also driving a Toyota 86 rally car, albeit in standard production specification, is former Race to the Sky promoter Grant Aitken. The Highlands-based motorsport enthusiast is delighted to have the opportunity to compete in the 2015 reincarnation of the event he once ran, and confirms he is entered in the open two-wheel-drive class in Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn’s new Toyota 86.
For Tajima, the determination to win is as strong as ever.
“Of all of the gravel hillclimbs, this is number one, and now that it is the longest in the world it makes it even more special,” said Tajima. “The course is fantastic, yes it is very tough but the safety is great and the views are amazing. I’ve held the title of King of the Hill eight times now, so I need two more to make it 10.”
Now 64, Tajima dominated the original decade of Race to the Sky events taking outright victory eight of the nine times he contested the 14.5 km Cardrona Valley hillclimb course. Tajima also holds the course record, setting the record time of 8 min, 1.17 seconds in 2006. The only year he competed and didn’t win – 2001 – the title went to the late Possum Bourne in the rebuilt World Rally Championship Subaru which former WRC works driver Alister McRae has just been confirmed to drive in the 2015 event. [Kiwi star Rod Millen won the Race to the Sky in 2002 which Tajima did not contest.]
Tajima’s career spans many years with numerous championship titles at home, but internationally he’s best known for his hillclimb successes in New Zealand’s Race to the Sky and America’s iconic Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. He’s made history by being the first Japanese national to win Pikes Peak outright and breaking the overall course record twice, the second time finally breaking the 10-minute barrier for the 12.42 mile (19.99 km) course on the mixed-surface event. This 2011 record will forever stand in the history books now that the entire course is tarmac. Tajima’s two world records at Pikes Peak in conventional petrol-powered racers are also complemented by his 2013 world record in an electric-powered racer.
Since its launch in 2013, the Super 86 has helped Tajima earn two Japanese rallycross championship titles and been used for a number of demonstration events. The 18-19 April running of Repco Race to the Sky will be the car’s international hillclimb debut.
The 18-19 April running of Repco Race to the Sky takes place in the Cardrona Valley, Central Otago. An entry list of 100 competitors driving or riding rally cars, purpose-built hillclimb cars and buggies, off-roaders, motorcycles and quad bikes is fully subscribed. General admission tickets are available online from Ticket Direct – simply search for Highlands – or from the Highlands Motorsport Park offices.