Five years have past since my very first hill climb. Back in 2007 was the first year of the newly formed event by the Hill Climb Club of the Philippines. I participated the first two of three rounds, and if I am not mistaken, I won third in my category which was Group 1. Back in those days Group 1 were composed of cars with a 1600cc displacement. I brought a modified first generation local Honda City with a B16 engine.
This is a video of the very first hill climb with the 1st gen local Honda City.
Fast forward to 2012, I find myself bringing another Honda City again. This time, three generations older from the first one I competed in. The car was completely different from the previous, with only its name alike. I brought a 2011 Honda City with a 1300 engine. There was nothing modified in this car except for the safety requirements the organizer’s had set.
Photo by Mark Villapando
I once again joined the Group 1 class just as I did before. With five years of the event running, the rules for this category have also changed. It was a class almost close to stock with very minor modification that could be done on the car. The car also had to be under 115hp in accordance to its advertised HP rating.
The first run was very challenging. My last competitive tarmac run was with a 2-litre Honda Civic FD. Moving to a category of production cars, and with everything stock, was going to be a unique experience. I have competed with the Honda City already before, but that was on the rallycross scene in dirt, mud, gravel, those kinds of loose surface. In tarmac, it was going to be faster and a bit scarier with the car not built to be an actual race car. The small engine could only do as much, and the gears maxed out right away. I found it difficult to match the gear to the power of the engine on the steep course we were running. Traction would be an issue as well with the tires coming standard with the car, as to the intermediate street-legal tires I have always used before. That was the learning I had to encounter. Learning and improving was the goal, and trying to make the least errors to maintain speed was the challenge. Challenge accepted, and a whole lot more to still learn.
Here is the first run up the hill in San Mateo, Rizal. A lot of mistakes being my first run on a competitive tarmac stage with the Honda City.
The second run was better with less mistakes. I cut my time down to three seconds from the first heat. I still had a few mistakes and for every mistake, it feels forever to recover.