'Monster' Tajima reaching for the Sky again

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2014
'Monster' Tajima
JO McKENZIE-McLEAN/Fairfax NZ
'MONSTER' TAJIMA: "I am number one. I am the best. This is true. Who is second - I don't know."

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A Japanese hillclimb racer who has earned his nickname as much for his aggressive driving style as his size is back in Central Otago with only one thing on his mind - to win.

Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima was at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell yesterday to help promote the launch of the Race to the Sky motorsport hillclimb which will return next year under new management after an eight-year hiatus.

Race to the Sky was last held in 2007 when the 64-year-old driver claimed his eighth victory from nine starts. He planned on taking a look up the Pisa Range course yesterday to familiarise himself with the course.

The veteran driver would not reveal details about what type of car he would be driving - electric or petrol - or strategies to take the title for a ninth time. However, his confidence was spread across a smiling face. "I am number one. I am the best. This is true. Who is second - I don't know. There is a lot of interest overseas and a lot of people come here because they want to beat me."

The hillclimb is the best in the world, he said. "Of all of the gravel hill climbs this is number one, and now that it is the longest in the world it makes it even more special. The course is fantastic, yes it is very tough, but the safety is great and the views are amazing. I've held the title of King of the Hill eight times now, so I need two more to make it 10."

Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn said they had already had interest from several past competitors keen to return and he was "extremely excited" to confirm Monster's return.

"The Southern Lakes is the adventure capital of the world and competitors and spectators are in for a heart-stopping two days of entertainment. The course itself will remain as true to its old form as we can make it."

The Race to the Sky course spans 14.5km, with 135 turns as it climbs from 450 metres to 1500 metres above sea level.

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- The Southland Times

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