SEAC president gives his thoughts on annual hill climb event

ON THE RISE: Nick Cagney will out to show his improved pace at the Legend of the Lakes Hill Climb at the Valley Lakes course this weekend.

THE South Eastern Automobile Club is set to run its biggest event of the year, with the Legend of the Lakes Hill Climb ready to hit the track tomorrow morning.

The event has grown in stature each year, with the 2017 running attracting international competitors, Australian rally champions and the usual array of fast and unusual vehicles.

Tomorrow will see action hit the track, with the historic and clubman vehicles chasing their own title.

But as has been the case in recent years, the day is also open for other competitors who bring their cars down to the event, along with club members.

While they are not all in contention for the day’s honours, club president Kevin Raedel said it provided plenty of action for spectators and a chance for the SEAC members to have a drive ahead of a big weekend.

“Originally Friday was set out for club vehicles and historic cars,”he said.

“A lot of the club members would run only on Friday and help run the event through the weekend.

“This year we probably have the biggest numbers for a Friday that we have had for a couple of years.

“Tomorrow will see a lot of rides for media and others, along with tight competition at the top of the field.”

From there the weekend ramps up, with the open competitors, combined with many other classes to provide an entertaining weekend of racing.

Raedel said he expects a sub-50 second run this year, possibly from reigning champion Dan Day.

“It will be 30 degrees on Saturday, so the late afternoon run will be fast,” he said.

“A few years ago we ran until 7.30 on Saturday night.

“As the air temp dropped and the track temp stayed, we had a record time on a late run.

“I think there is another second in the track on the right day.

“Dan Day’s car was new last year and he has done a lot of racing in the car since then.

“He will be on a mission to go as fast as he can, so he will be the one to watch to do a sub-50 time.

“If he can, I think that would be very hard to catch.”

Raedel said there were plenty of others pushing the top runners this year.

“Simon Feil will be quicker again, Damian Brand is always consistently fast and I think the next one who will slot into a top-three spot will be Nick Cagney,” he said.

“He missed out last year by very little time.

“I think with the extra 12 months experience, he will be very quick this year.”

The big names such as Australian rally champion Simon Evans, along with Irish rally driver Frank Kelly are certain to provide plenty of action as well.

“Simon Evans and Frank Kelly will be exciting to watch – it will be awesome for the crowd,” he said.

“Whether they can do a whole lap to try to get a decent time, or they are there for the crowd’s entertainment, we will find out later in the week.”

Add to the list former Bathurst 12 Hour winner Graham Alexander and Raedel said it simply showed the stature of the event.

“To get people of that calibre is a pretty good thing,” he said.

“It has a big name now.

“Second to the V8 Supercars series, it is the biggest thing in Australian motorsport.

“You do not get anywhere else in Australia with 200 cars entered.”

But apart from the big fields over the three days, Raedel said there was one attraction few other venues could compete with.

“The best thing is it is just such a beautiful area,” he said.

“Even the guys who have finished their run and sit at the top of the hill waiting, they can stand outside and see the whole course.

“It is such a good atmosphere for racing and the town is really hyped up for it.”

Racing begins tomorrow at 10am, with a 9am start for Saturday and Sunday.

Runs will continue Saturday until 7.30pm, with Sunday expected to finish about 4pm.

Six runs are set down for competitors both tomorrow and Saturday, with four runs plus the final shootout on Sunday.