Camilleri unbeatable at Pennellu – sets new record

Sunday's event at Mellieha (Pennellu) was a real treat for lovers of Motorsport.

Jackson Agius in his Porsche 944 turbo. Photo by David Axisa - Ritz photography
Jackson Agius in his Porsche 944 turbo. Photo by David Axisa - Ritz photography

By Etienne Grech

The local hill climb racers got engaged in some tight competition with guest groups from the Italian Salerno Corse Racing, comprising 9 of Sicily's most accomplished hot hatch racers and the illustrious AutoSport Sorento Team who brought two of Italy’s finest Radical racers for a good canter up the Pennellu Hill.

From the start it looked as though the weather would play its part, although perhaps not in the way it transpired, many were fearing rain to arrive as early as 2pm and stay for the day, this would seriously hamper the aspiring championship contenders as it is nearly impossible to get on group record pace and score big points in adverse conditions.

This unique hill climb was Round seven of the season long Grimaldi Lines Hillclimb Championship organised by the Island Car Club. Over 70 competitors took part, more then expected on usual standards, but this is quite understandable when one considers the favourable road and its superior quality. The organisation and running of the event was of superlative standard. Starting right on time, the event ran like clockwork.

21 year old driver Keith Camilleri in his Chevron Britannia-Tours Radical Prosport grabbed the fastest time of the day showing complete dominance right from the beginning, securing yet another win. The Formula-4 driver produced a flawless final run and an excellent time of 55.363sec which was fastest time of the day and a record breaking one, over a second and a half quicker then his previous victory time on the same hill earlier this year. This also gave him a winning margin of just over one second on runner-up championship contender Zach Zammit (56.515sec) who steered his powerful Urban Jungle Ralt to second place on the podium. Italian champion and guest competitor from Team Autosport Sorrento, Sebastiano Castellano in his Radical SR-4 Evo who participated for the first time in Malta bagged the 3rd podium spot with an excellent time of 56.810sec.

Probably one of the most eye-catching cars in the paddock was the impressive sounding supercharged Forch-Tools Radical Club Sport of Jason Muscat who although suffering engine trouble, still managed to secure the 4th overall place ahead of Francesco Celentano (Radical SR-4 Evo) who was the second driver of the Autosport Sorrento Team to place in the top 6 with a time of 57.257sec. 6th place was awarded to the winner’s brother Kurt Camilleri in his Chevron Auto-Dealer 1.5ltr Radical Sr.

Spectators were regaled with several excellent performances by numerous touring cars who thundered up the hill in a quest for elusive season points.

Honours for best rear-wheel drive went to Steve Baldachino who had a fine showing in his Subaru Impreza. Baldachino was quickest ahead of Dr. Anthony Bernard (Mitsubishi Evo) and Chris Aquilina (Subaru Impreza).

The front wheel drive class was dominated by Didier Bugeja (Peugeot 106). Italian guest Nino Surrace in his red Peugeot 106 Maxi and Etienne Grech (Citroen Saxo Vts) followed in that order.

John Zammit once again was top driver in the rear wheel drive category. Zammit edged Ryan Mangion (Ford Escort Mk1) by a mere half second. Warren Sammut in his Cosworth powered Ford Escort Mk2 placed third.

An excellent drive came from Martin Spiteri in his Cobra 289 Fia who won the Classic Modified group ahead of Paul Ciappara Jnr (MGB) and John Drury (Austin Mini).

Teddy Aquilina at the wheel of his SR1 was quickest veteran driver of the day winning the over-60 category.

Final race

This was perhaps one of the most closely-fought hill climbs of the season with rookie driver Camilleri vying for the day’s honours with 2012 champion Zach Zammit.

The championship comes to a close on Sunday at Gnejna, Mgarr.

As things stand between Camilleri and Zammit, the final showdown is expected to be an extremely competitive decider that will see the prevailing 2014 champion.

The first run of the day commences at 9am.

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