By Trevor Jackson
FOR the 15th time the Legend of the Lakes hill climb will light up the Valley Lakes at the end of this month.
What has become a must-do event on the Australian hill climb calendar has been somewhat thwarted in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has not stopped the South Eastern Automobile Club forging ahead.
While border restrictions have depleted the usual field, the event – to run from Friday October 30 to Sunday November 1 – is just 10 short of a full field for Saturday and Sunday, while Friday’s group is bigger than ever.
For committee members Kevin Raedel and Peter Lock it is all coming together after plenty of hard work by the club.
While Victorian competitors will probably not be able to compete, there are still 10 on the list should the covid-19 situation change in the short term, to add to the 130 South Australians keen to take on the iconic volcanic course.
New names have appeared on the list from around Adelaide, with Dan Day back from the state’s capital to chase his fifth straight title to equal the current record of consecutive victories set by Mount Gambier’s Peter Gazzard.
While Raedel said the time line is tight and it has been “a lot of hard work”, Lock said the vast majority of regular competitors were keen to race.
“A lot of people have said ‘why didn’t you just call it like most people did’, but the whole thing was founded on a fair bit of hard work,” he said.
“It is popular and every competitor who has been here wanted it to go again.
“Some of the comments we got on Facebook like ‘do it and we’ll pay double the entry’ showed there was a lot of interest out there because there is not much else happening.”
The whole weekend will take on a different approach, with free entry for spectators in limited numbers only at the top of the course.
However, a live stream is set to take the race to the masses on either Facebook or through a dedicated website.
As for the competition itself, it will be hard to go past Day again this year.
He has become the unofficial King of the Mountain, although is stil three wins behind Gazzard’s total victories.
Day’s biggest recent competitor Kevin Mackrell is likely to sit by and watch, unable to cross the border to compete.
Recent times suggest the course record will be hard to beat, but slight changes to the alignment of the track and the inclusion of a further 265 metres of armco fence towards the bottom through the esses may make a slight difference.
Raedel said even a 10th of a second could be the difference between a record or just another fast run.
“The changes to track with the new armco fencing will make a huge difference for us – it will save us a lot of time setting up,” he said.
“It will also protect the trees, the edge of the road and be good for the whole venue.
“It follows the line nicely now instead of us having to make our own so it might be worth a tenth up the hill.”
With times so low, close to six seconds off the original course record, Raedel said it would be nice to see the current record matched this year, if not broken.
But he accepted it would be a big call.
While it may seem a Day victory is a foregone conclusion, there will be no shortage of competition from he likes of Simon Fiel in a fast Subaru and local favourite Damian Brand in his older and very reliable Subaru WRX.
Kier Wilson will tackle the course in a Lamborghini, while several new cars, including Nisan Skylines, Mitsubishi Evos and Subarus are all in the mix.
Street Stock speedway sedans will provide some demonstration runs on Sunday between shootout runs to add to the entertainment.
With the usual class competition as hot as ever all is set for an exciting weekend of racing.