Impressive Johnson wins wet Willunga Hillclimb

Tuesday 12 December, 2023
Photos: Johm Lemm/
Douglas Johnson has comfortably won the Ampl Auto Willunga Hillclimb after posting the fastest cumulative time over five runs in what was a wet day of competition. 
A strong field of more than 100 competitors were entered in the event over the weekend, and it was Johnson who took out the win in his Subaru WRX, having been the only driver to finish under seven minutes. 
Taking out second place a further nine seconds off the winner was Nick Streckeisen, who enjoyed a solid five second buffer over the third place Oscar Matthews.

Although Johnson came away with the victory after five runs, the winner was aided by the misfortunate retirement of early leader and fellow Subaru driver, Daniel Day.
Day was clearly the number one during the opening three runs, having raced out to a lead over more than 10 seconds – his third attempt of 1:17.890 proving the fastest for the event overall.
With the track having been at its driest when competitors were attempting third run, it was no surprise that Johnson also recorded his best time of the day at that point, with a 1:18.960 earning him a career-best run up the course.
As Johnson joined an elite club of drivers to go sub one minute and 20 seconds, the event was then turned on its head when Day’s car came to a halt towards the finish line on the penultimate run of the event.

As Day was forced to retire, it elevated Johnson to the lead, who went on to post the fastest times out of the decreasing field and claim the victory – a well-deserved result for a driver very much worthy of the title.
“Outright first and a new PB of 1.18.960 on a partially wet track, which I believe makes it the second person under 1.20 ever,” Johnson wrote on social media following his victory.
“The car was definitely not 100 per cent, centre diff being completely locked on this run leaving handling with much to be desired. And an injury to my left knee prevented me from using my left foot to brake.
“But, with some help from Murray at MCA, we made some changes that have definitely helped the car drive like I want it to.
“Definitely wasn't the fastest Dan Day is still King of the mountain, but next year maybe might be a proper battle. 
“Could not do this without all the help from sponsors, friends and my lovely wife putting up with the late nights Kate Johnson.”

Rounding out the top five in one of the closest battles for the event were Andy Sarandis and Gavin Farley, with the former coming out on top by just over two seconds.
The fourth place finish capped off an impressive fight back from the highly esteemed Bosch Motorsport Australia Rally Championship co-driver in Sarandis, who was three seconds slower than Farley on the opening run before chipping away all event and sealed P4 on the final run.
Although he missed out on fourth place, Farley was still one of the most consistent throughout the day, as his best time was eighth fastest overall, yet he still finished above the likes of Matt Frith and Nathan Dale, who were dropped behind to sixth and eighth respectively. 
Splitting Frith and Dale on the outright standings was Damien Brand, while Steve Cathie and Jake Brackenridge picked up the final positions within the top 10. 

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