NX GTi-R: Hill Climb Edition


Coming through Turn 3, the second switchback. I stayed close to the apex and found that the slight dip in the road helped plant and balance the car for the pass through the gates on the way to Turn 4.

Day 2 was another gorgeous day. Beautiful sunshine and that was quite a relief. I cannot imagine what this course would be like in light rain let alone a downfall. I love driving in the rain, but I'm so glad that I can save that experience at Knox Mountain for another year. With everything done that could be accomplished with the car at the base of Knox Mountain, it was time to see what the NX and I could accomplish. My lofty goal of a very low 2 minute climb was now completely pushed aside in the desire to simply obtain a good, clean run. The day started off with very clean runs by all competitors, meaning that more runs were going to be obtained throughout the day. Still braking early, I made my way up the course. The car was still easily caught by undulations in the road surface, but it was not as violent as the previous day. The brake pedal feel was much stronger than at anytime on Saturday. The car's power between 5000 and 7000 rpm was very strong with only a minor miss in the mid-range.


My track hood started as a high school shop class project – it was a spare hood that I gave the students/teacher some sketches and let them go at it. The first guys who tackled it got in over their heads, but the next group made it work. Since then, I've hacked it up even more. With the load on the engine throughout this hill climb, I'm going to have to rethink my cooling strategy. First up will be some heat shielding – we were so late getting the car out of the shop that no shielding was put in place. Then we'll see how creative I can get. Project cars – are they ever finished!

Turn 1 is a great switchback and the car felt very good through the corner. Well planted and a bit of wheelspin as accelerating forward. 2a and 2b are minor kinks with rockface on the left and massive trees on the right. There may be more speed to be had here but it was not in me to find it this day. Heading up to Turn 3, another switchback but with lots of run-off room, is the steepest section of the course. With the NX GTi-R, that was a third gear pull that bordered on requiring an upshift to fourth. Many drivers take this corner quite wide and I could not understand that. I heard one video describe the tight apex drive as being too unsettling for the car. Then I saw Andre Marziali's video – Andre placed second overall this year – with his awesome flat black and massively modified BMW M3 take three using the line that I saw in my mind. That sealed it for me and personally I loved how the car felt through the dip and then up through the gates. That may be an advantage to having the Nismo LSD as the car really pulls well through corners. And, did I mention the gates? As this is a public park road there are access gates that are concrete filled solid metal posts that can limit park access. Certainly challenges that must be avoided at all costs. For more details about the course, check out this walk of the course.


Not only do the elevation changes provide opportunity for the drivers, but Brent took great advantage of the terrain to capture shots from unique perspective.

Turn 4 was what I found to be the most deceiving corner of the course. First right and then a decreasing radius left and then right again – with a big drop on the right side and a nice cliff face on the left side. There was a gap in the concrete curbing during the decreasing radius section of the course that I found pulled at my eyes – for me it was a mental exercise to look beyond that and focus upon the upcoming corners. The short straight leading to Turn 5 allowed a bit of speed but not much and it is possible that I braked too much for this corner. This is the corner that has sucked many drivers off course and into the barriers over the years, so my plan was to be slow and ensure that my name stayed off of that statistic listing. Perhaps I left a lot of time on the table here, but I was through and then into the longest straight section with only minor turn 6 and 7 to face and where Saturday I was reaching 150 kph. Sunday I am fairly confident that I was in the 160 kph/100 mph range but I had removed all of the data sources from the car (I will get them sorted out eventually!) and my speedometer is so far out of sync with reality that it is not useful. Especially on a road that demanded all of my attention keeping the car centred and going straight. While I probably lost a bit of speed entering 7, I was happy with the feel and just a touch of gas as I moved into the final switchback called Turn 8. This corner has a really good feel to it, and the car was very nicely planted. Then there is Turn 9, which I would describe as an S turn being as it is first a right, then a left, and finally another right with a final burst of gas to the finish line.


I like to think that after 25 years of owning this car, that I know it pretty well. And also, that it surprises people with what it is capable of accomplishing.
The car was well planted throughout the event. The Toyo RRs provided the grip that I expected. The suspension may have been a bit on the harsh side so I may soften it for next year. The challenge of having a car that follows every pebble in it's path – well, I may have to get used to that (until I make some massive changes to the car's front end). Photo Credit: Douglas Bentley.
The NX GTi-R was far from the fastest car on the course. Nor was it the oldest, most unique, or loudest (which just might have gotten you a DNF as the sound restrictions of 96dB were strictly enforced), but the car and I did have a certain flair. Most of all, we had fun. Photo Credit: Benjamin Freeling.


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