Leaders Hillclimb Multi Car Challenge - A45 AMG


Motorsport is a hotbed of technology, innovation, design and stupid ideas. The plan to go hillclimbing for a season using a different car for each meeting definitely falls into the last of those categories.

David (in helmet), Al and their first weapon of choice
David (in helmet), Al and their first weapon of choice
To make it more interesting, myself and co-driver David Finlay decided to enter the British Leaders Championship in Class A2 for production cars over 2,000cc. Not only did entering the Leaders series add some extra competitive spice, it also gave us a diary of events to work around for the newly christened Multi Car Hillclimb Challenge. All we had to do was find a car (or eight) to take part with.

Step forward the nice people at Mercedes-Benz UK and their A45 AMG for the first meeting of the year at Prescott. For a road-going car, the A45 has all the right elements to be a belting hillclimb machine. It has four-wheel drive for traction off the line, a 360hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox for fast, smooth shifts. We've decided to run every car in showroom spec, so the car was still using its standard Bridgestone 235/40R18 tyres all round.

Cars will be showroom spec for each round
Cars will be showroom spec for each round
Final garnish
The only things added were series sponsor logos, a timing strut, and stickers for the ignition and tow points in the event of an off. We also added one other crucial piece - decals for the The National Association of Blood Bikes. This fine charity provides free transport for blood, X-rays and other vital documents to the NHS. It's entirely run by volunteers and is one of those excellent ideas that too often go unnoticed and unfunded, so it's our intention to make more people aware of Blood Bikes and, hopefully, donate a little bit. Check out their website for more information.

Stickers applied, the first run on Saturday morning was a fact-finding mission to see how grippy Prescott's 1,127-yard course was. A 58.32sec run was nothing to write home about, but it showed the AMG's Race Start function could shave a whole second from starting without it. It also showed the A45's steering doesn't provide much feel and downchanges with the steering wheel paddles needed careful timing to avoid the car deciding to stay in a higher gear.

Stickered up and ready to go, go, go!
Stickered up and ready to go, go, go!
For the second practice run of Saturday, Race Start was engaged and the A45 covered the first 64ft in just 2.18sec. As a two-second time over this distance equates to a 1g of acceleration, it shows how well it works in a standard road car. The rest the run was tidy but conservative, so a 51.28sec it was something to build on.

A new dawn
Sunday started with a damp track, so there was nothing to do except keep the car in one piece and try to perfect the right line through the Ettores and Pardon hairpins.

Sadly, the event was interrupted mid-morning by a crash involving Steve Hemingway's Pilbeam MP50 that resulted in the Great Western Air Ambulance taking him to hospital. Here's to a speedy recovery for driver and car, and a huge thank you to all of the emergency crews whose work means we can take part in motorsport.

When the meeting resumed, a first timed run of 51.78 was a personal best. I was hoping to get into the 50-second bracket, so this was as frustrating as it was pleasing.

Ready to engage secret weapon - launch control!
Ready to engage secret weapon - launch control!
After lunch, the sun broke through and track conditions were at their best of the entire weekend. I'm not much of a one for pre-race psychology, but a bit of time alone in the car thinking of where I needed to push harder, brake later and just plain go faster did the trick.

The AMG's Race Start recorded its best time of the weekend at 2.09sec for the first 64ft. Then it was a small lift and push through Orchard, hold the understeer before braking hard for Ettores, down the dip and brake as late as possible for Pardon hairpin. Then it's flat towards the Esses, brake, turn and use the kerbs, and the drive as hard as I dared round Semi Circle to the finish line without falling off.

All of this ended with a 50.04sec time and that immensely satisfying feeling of knowing I'd made big gains and set a new PB. Teammate David then went and put in a 49.67sec, which is all credit to him and the car.

The Mercedes A45 AMG was a great car to dust off the cobwebs. It was fast, secure and surprisingly competitive, ending up only half a second behind a Porsche 997 Turbo. Next stop is Harewood Hillclimb on May 9-10 and we have something very different lined up for that. Back to the start of that learning curve...


Previous reports:
Abarth 695 Biposto

BMW i8


Watch the clip here.
 





Photos: Richard Danby

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Comments (17) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Juicetin1 28 Apr 2015

    I was there. The A45 did some seriously impressive runs and the times set were right up there with all manner of specialist/highly modified machinery.
    Well done to you and good luck for the rest of the season.

  • andyps 28 Apr 2015

    Look forward to seeing you at Harewood, will be good to meet you! I'm competing on the Saturday only in the Harewood championship meeting rather than both days.

    You are right, certainly a different car for that, easy to find out what if anyone looks here - http://www.harewoodhill.com/wink

  • Mark A S 28 Apr 2015

    Mark here in the 996 t car 58. Well done, Very good time in a car that looks like it should not be so quick!
    0.64 VERY impressive wink

  • RobM77 28 Apr 2015

    Great idea! I look forward to the write ups smile

  • griffdude 28 Apr 2015

    Hello Alisdair, getting below 50 secs up there is good going, especially in an unfamiliar car. I was there Sunday spectating & was wondering why the brake lights flashed under heavy braking?
    The little Fiat should go well up Harewood- I always struggle against the Vixens there & the Fiat has similar proportions & power. 67 secs is your target.....

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