Australia’s best chase hill climb honours

DRESSED TO IMPRESS: Dan Day will return to the Legend of the Lakes Hill Climb next weekend with a new colour scheme on his Subaru WRX, but the same horsepower as he chases his third straight victory.

THE course record for the Legend of the Lakes Hill Climb could tumble yet again this year, with back-to-back winner Dan Day returning to chase a three-peat of victories next weekend.

Back in 2016 Day lit the time sheets up late on the Sunday to claim the win with his final run up the Valley Lakes hill.

Long-time competitor Kevin Mackrell had been in with a shot to claim the honours, but Day put paid to that with a time of 51.11 seconds.

Last year the assault on the hill continued, with Day and Mackrell again locking horns.

Times tumbled to see the first sub-50 second run and a new record for the course.

Limestone Coast driver Peter Gazzard had previously held the record of 50.77sec in his Mitsubishi Evo, but Day again set the benchmark to become the fastest driver up the hill in its 12-year history to that point.

Mackrell would have been disappointed, with his time good enough to beat Gazzard’s previous record, was it not for Day.

The big question now remains – can Day go any faster?

According to South Eastern Automobile Club president Kevin Raedel there is more time to be found, depending on track and weather conditions.

However, Day says it will be hard to break into the 48-second bracket, with many variables on the day affecting times.

“There is always a chance, but the weather and the track conditions on the day play a big part in that,” he said.

“I’m not necessarily expecting to go a whole lot faster than we did last year, because we were on the edge of grip and everything.

“But the weather could be slightly better, which could help the times.”

As far as Day is concerned another victory is his focus, with three wins from three attempts the ideal scenario.

“We are going there essentially with the mindset to win,” he said.

“To go up there and get three out of three would would be a big achievement for us, so that is definitely the aim.”

The Adelaide driver will bring his Subaru back sporting new livery yet again, which harks back to the Subaru blue of production machines.

While presentation of the vehicle has always been second to none, it is the work under the bonnet that has made the difference.

Last year Day said it was possible to produce 1000 horsepower from the boxer engine.

He said he generally runs it at 800hp at the Lakes course, with any more power almost unusable, apart from the middle section up the hill.

This year that figure remains much the same, but the delivery could change the game.

Day has added flared guards to house slightly wider tyres, which provide a bigger footprint on the road.

But that could also be a disadvantage.

“We have about an inch extra per tyre, so about four inches of extra rubber,” Day said.

“But at the same time we have more tyre to warm up on the first part of the track, which could be a disadvantage.

“It is something we want to give a go because we need to improve the car each year.

“We know Kevin will have something up his sleeve to go a little bit faster.”

Whether the extra rubber will allow more power to be delivered and more grip remains to be seen, with the course the biggest limiting factor.

“In the middle of the course power helps to a certain degree, but like anything, there is a point where you can actually have too much power,” Day said.

“Because you are travelling so fast up the hill you have to lift so much for the corners, so it is barely worth it.

“Sometimes less is more, but with the bigger tyres we may be able to run a little bit more power.”

Day said a healthy rivalry had developed between himself and Mackrell, with both pushing each other to achieve the ultimate run.

“It is pretty cool to think two completely different cars are so close up the same bit of road,” he said.

“I love having Kevin there because it pushes us along to find every little bit and I am sure we push him to where he goes.

“We set a 49 in the first run on the Sunday last year, which I am sure pushed him to do his fastest time ever.”

Overall Day said he was keen to return to the event, which is a major focus for him each year.

“It is our key event for the Subaru,” he said.

“We do a few events in the Subaru each year, but the Legend is the one we look forward to the most.

“They run the event so well and have been doing it for so long they have it down pat.

“The road itself for me as a driver is a really good piece of road to drive.

“I am excited and nervous at the same time about these wider tyres, but we have two days to roll out and see what happens.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

The Legend of the Lakes kicks off next Friday, November 9, with club drivers and older machinery, before the main cars chase the fastest time up the hill on Saturday and Sunday.