Hills to climb


Hills to climb

Home made: Brett shows off his car in front of the garage in which it was created.

By Danny Buttler

BRETT Hayward is the king of the hill.
The Koonwarra engineer raced a car he designed and built himself to win the Australian Hillclimb Championship held at Haunted Hills near Yallourn.
Remarkably, another South Gippsland driver, Leongatha’s Greg Ackland came third in the event. Greg has promised to come back next with a lighter, faster car, but for now Brett has bragging rights as the region’s latest national champion.
The event saw drivers timed over four laps spread over two days.
From a standing start, competitors blast around the circuit in a mad dash for glory.
Brett posted his winning time early on Saturday, leaving his rivals the tough task of clocking a faster lap over the next two days.
The championship wasn’t Brett’s until the last lap of the event, when arch rival and former Australian champion Andrew Howell went around one last time.
“My main competition ran after me, so I had to sit there after I had done the best I could and watch him. It was nerve wracking, I’ve never been more nervous in my life,” he said.
“He got to the second split which was two/thirds of the way around the track and he’d lost a second on me, so I knew at that stage that I had it won.”
Brett’s achievement is much greater for having topped the field in a homemade car.
“(Andrew’s) was the one car in Australia I had been aiming to beat for four years,” Brett said.
“Andrew Howell has a Gould racing car which is purpose-built in England in a factory which does a lot of formula one cars. His car is basically formula one spec, it is an awesome car.
“I’ve come second to him a lot of times and this is the first time I have beaten him, so it was good.”
The 39-year-old reckons he has spent up to $30,000 on his Formula Libre open wheeler, but he reckons it was money well spent, even before his national victory.
“It’s not a cheap hobby but it is a passion of mine,” he said.
“I get great satisfaction out of building the car and then racing it. It is quite easy to go and buy a car”.
Hillclimb, which is a major sport in Britain, is popular among motor racing drivers, who enjoy the challenge of racing against the clock in on-off laps.
“Racing car drivers, super car drivers, whoever, they have all done hill climb racing and they say it is one of the most adrenaline charged motorsports you can do”.
Third place-getter Greg Ackland said he was pleased to get on the podium at a national championship, but would be aiming higher in the future.
“I’m pretty happy with that,” he said.
“As far as the Australian champion goes, that is the best I’ve had.
“You go as hard as you can and hope for the best.”
Next year he will have a faster car and hopes he can move the championship trophy a few kilometres up the South Gippsland Highway.
“There’s a fair bit of competitive rivalry, if he goes out and does something I will try to top it and vice versa,” he said.
Many records were broken on the day, including the outright record which Brett Hayward lowered from the previous time of 53.08 seconds to 51.43 seconds.
Thirteen of the class winners were Gippsland Car Club members, indicative of the strength and competitiveness of the club.
It is the first time since 1989 that a Victorian driver has won the title.
The Australian Hillclimb Championship trophy was presented to Brett by Victorian Sport and Club Development Council Chairperson, David Bellenger on behalf of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport.
Hosted by the Gippsland Car Club, the annual event was a huge success, drawing 113 entries from all over Australia with unique and interesting vehicles throughout all classes.
V8 Supercar driver Steve Richards in his Ford Escort came second in the Sports Sedans 1601 to 2000 class behind Dennis Cope in a Nissan EXA.
When asked about his comments on the track and the event, Richards was lavish in his praise of the world class facility and congratulated the Gippsland Car Club on the organisation and success of the Championship.

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=339

Posted by SiteAdmin on Nov 10 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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