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The Sky's the Limit

Suzuki Motorsport Principal and six-time Race to the Sky Hill-Climb King of the Mountain title winner, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima will be aiming to make it a Magnificent Seven at this years' event when he launches his Suzuki Sport Escudo off the start line at the Queenstown (NZ) based event on Easter Sunday (16th April 2006).

Tajima (55) will be aiming beat his own hill record of 8min 10.02secs set in 2003 and, weather-permitting, dip under the eight-minute barrier for the first time on the 15km, 137-corner event. Loosely-based on the Suzuki Escudo (Vitara),
Tajima's car produces six times the power of the production car and at sea-level delivers 1,000bhp (750kW) through its four-wheel drive system.

Inspired by the world-famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (also won by Tajima in 1995), the event in the picturesque Cardrona Valley of New Zealand's south island, is now in its 9th year and has been won on all but two occasions by Tajima - the only two years he did not compete!

Testing will begin soon when the carbon-kevlar bodied, space-frame machine arrives in New Zealand from the Suzuki Sport factory in Japan where Team Manager, Paul Wilding said " Since last year the car's been pulled apart and gone over from top to bottom. There aren't any major changes from last year, but we've just made sure that everything is 100% - no detail has been overlooked."

Tajima himself is confident of his seventh win and beating his closest rival, Swede Kenneth Eriksson who will competing in a heavily-modified Subaru Impreza WRC. " I know I can win this race again," said Tajima, " I have never been beaten in New Zealand and I don't intend to be this year. I really want to go under 8 minutes and if the weather is kind and the road surface is suitable, I am convinced I can do it. For the last three years the car, team and driver have performed perfectly - but this year, we will be even better! "

Practice and qualifying for The Race to the Sky gets underway on Friday 14th April and culminates with the finale on Sunday 16th April.

 4/16(Sun) Today's Report


Thank you very much for your support!
I have won again!

Since it was a year ago since I drove in competition, I was very very nervous to tell the truth.
But it turned out to be that I have achieved 9 seconds quicker than my original & course record!
Now I feel I can still run very competitive, maybe becoming first WRC champion driver!? I have to thank my team for all the effort also!

The weather during the final was cloudy. Sometimes rain but not so much effect. But the temperature was very low and in the morning it was 5 degrees.
Mechanics had to work hard until morning to fix the issues we had yesterday. Gearbox maintenance, center diff adjustment, rear diff & driveshafts change. Suspension check. They have worked hard, accurately and very quickly.

Checking the gearbox, tyre grooving & air pressure, and since I not to break the differential, I have drove the carefully yet making the final set up. I was 2 second behind Kenneth Ericsson and placed 2nd. I was happy about this result. Kenneth's team thought this was my best...

In order to determine the start number and to make spectators happy, we do time trial. It has a big jumping spot which every year Rod Millen flies 2m high above the ground. Of course, if I do that I will break my machine so I ran this part very cautiously. Kenneth, just as I thought, flew like WRC Rally Finland and made the spectators exciting.

During this shootout, I had chosen the final's tyre and had grooving done. (4 tyres to be grooved in 30 minutes is genius!) Using my 37 years of motorsport experience, I had done the best grooving for this race. I put this tyre and started off. Putting my concentration on tyre, I drove carefully and was 2nd place after Kenneth by 1 second again. I now got the best set up.

My start time was a little past 16:00. I started second to last from Kenneth. My turn has come. I had started off in full throttle! Spectators were excited to see my run, and more than that, when Kenneth's team saw my run, they had chosen to boost up the engine.(That is what I heard from the mechanic) When I crossed the finish line, I have clocked the record breaking time.
Now it was Kenneth's turn. He started off 3 minutes after me. But when he reached 3 km point, his engine blew! That was the end of the race and I had become the champion!

Engineer, mechanic, tyre has worked together magnificently. Adding to that my 37 years of experience has been very useful.

I will continue to keep on trying to make people happy by running, together with my team and using my experience.

Once again, thank you very much of all my fans out there who has watched me running today. As long as you cheer me, I will keep on racing!

From Queenstown, New Zealand
Nobuhiro Tajima

 Race To The Sky Official Site>>


 4/15(Sat) Today's Report


Today was practice run and first qualify. Totally different weather from yesterday, which was cold and sometimes rain. In the morning practice, I have chosen the company "D"'s block pattern tyre. I was clocking top time up to 7km point. But then it punctured and had to retire!

On the afternoon first qualify, I have chosen company "F" special tyre with grooving done. This time, there was too much understeer and therefore, I have changed my mind to drive the car for the fantastic spectators. The time... blank! Problem with the official stop watch. It was about 8 min. 20 sec.

There was a little problem with the gearbox and it was checked after the run. It is now re-built and at the same time center diff's initial torque is tighten up to the limit. Rear diff and drive shafts were changed for caution. Now it is ready!

Tomorrow I will challenge for the new course record. See you tomorrow!

From Queenstown, New Zealand
Nobuhiro Tajima


 4/13(Thu) Today's Report


Today the weather was excellent! But we were freezing on top of the mountain, minus 3 degrees!
Many things were needed to do. Tyre setting, differential setting, and also due to the better tyre performance, rear aerodynamics became weak and have raised the rear wing 20cm higher.

Every two years on Easter time in Wanaka, air force show "Wanaka Air Show" is held. Since the air show and "Race to the Sky" is held at same time this year, hotels are packed, lots of crowds, camping car is full! gallery spot is full of spectators putting up their tents.

I went to see my old friend and a teacher of my helicopter license, Simon, who is at Wanaka Airport. Again, many people! At Wanaka Airport, NZ Air Force helicopter pilot were showing there acrobatic stunts. It was just unbelievable of how they control the helicopters! But what was more surprising was that after they finished, they came to see me shouting "Monster! Good luck on weekend!"

They have invited me for a ride to the helicopter. It was very very difficult to stop my emotion of riding, but I have managed to say no to it unfortunately and just took picture and went home. Next time my friends!
The technique they had in controlling the helicopter is, like myself controlling the hill climb car!

From Queenstown, New Zealand
Nobuhiro Tajima

 4/12(Wed) Today's Report


The test day one has finished. New Zealand is now heading towards winter and the temperature is about 5 degrees in the morning and 15 degrees during the day.

The surface had paves on top and very slippery, but when the grooving s were done on new tyres, grip was perfect. We have done several grooving and got good data for the race. Considering the weather and road surface temperature, it surely needs at least three compounds. When the base road surface comes up the grip became better. Tomorrow we will start getting more mileage.

From Queenstown, New Zealand
Nobuhiro Tajima

-4/12(Fri) REPORT>>
-Test Run
-4/13(Fri) REPORT>>
-Test Run
-Recce test run
-Welcome party
-4/15(Sat) REPORT>>
-9:45am Practice run
-1:00pm 1st qualify
-4/16(Sun) REPORT>>
-8:30am 2nd qualify
-1:00pm Shootout*
-2:00pm Final
-4:30pm Finish
-8:00pm Final Podium

*What is shootout?

Time trial which will be held by top 10 contender of the qualify and this will be the final start order. It is done at the course near by the spectator area. The start order is very critical in Race to the Sky which makes this time trail excitng to watch!

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