Feb 18, 2013
FULL FIELD SET FOR SWIFT DRIVERS CHALLENGE
A FULL GRID of young racing hopefuls will line up for the inaugural Suzuki Swift Drivers Challenge in Queensland this weekend.
Drivers from all walks of life will compete across three days of on and off-track activities this weekend for the chance to win a fully-funded season of racing in the Suzuki Swift Racing Series this year – valued at $50,000.
The competition is being jointly organized by the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals and Swift Series officials, whilst the winner will compete this year in a Shannon’s Nationals-liveried car.
Organisers have also confirmed an all-star grid of expert mentors across the weekend, including an all-time great of the sport.
Two-time Bathurst 1000 champion Allan Grice will act as the main ‘mentor’ across all three days – two at Lakeside and one at Norwell – whilst three-time Australian Drivers Champion Paul Stokell, V8 Supercar racer Steve Owen, Utes champion Ryall Harris and the experienced Steve Robinson will work one-on-one with drivers at Norwell on Sunday.
“We are very, very happy to have attracted the kind of talent that have agreed to come on board and mentor the drivers involved in the Suzuki Swift Drivers Challenge,” competition coordinator Liam Curkpatrick said.
“Having someone with Allan Grice’s reputation and history in the sport will be invaluable to every single driver in the competition – they will be able to draw from his huge experience and I’m sure they’ll love his sense of humor and the stories he has from an incredible career.
“Paul, Ryall and both Steve’s are all champions in their own right and just add to the competition – certainly the drivers involved are going to get bang for their buck in terms of coaching from top level drivers.”
The expert mentors will work with a diverse group of drivers – only two of whom have previous Swift Series experience.
2012 season standout Reece Murphy and Callan Sayers are the only two to have actively competed in the nimble, 1.6 litre production cars, however their rivals aren’t exactly lacking talent.
SA State Formula Ford champion Luke Fraiser and Queenslander Ben Grice represent just some of the ‘young gun’ drivers nominated, whilst other drivers include enthusiasts, race fans, amateur racers, karting stars and more experienced drivers with club or state-level racing experience.18-year old Bronte Michael, from Queensland, and regional New South Wales Hotrod shop owner Gai Appel – who owns more than 30 cars she has collected over her career in drag racing – are the two female racers entered.
“The array of drivers is sensational and exactly what the challenge is all about,” Liam Curkpatrick said.
“The goal was always to make this available to drivers from all walks of life – experienced or not – and that’s what we have got. It’s going to be a fascinating weekend and a great competition and hopefully they all get what they can out of the weekend.”
The Swift Drivers Challenge will be held across three days across the February 22-24 weekend in Queensland, commencing with a series of practice and orientation sessions at the famous Lakeside Raceway on Friday, February 22.
Still at Lakeside, competitors will then experience Swift competition under race conditions on Saturday, with a series of assessments to be undertaken whilst drivers enjoy one of the nation’s quickest and most demanding circuits’.
The challenge will then travel south to Norwell’s well-known driver training circuit for more on-track activities, timed laps, media skills testing and more – with the ultimate winner to be determined at the end of the weekend.
Along with media and presentation skills, the variety of assessed tasks is designed to find the best-rounded driver to win the competition.
Drivers will receive points for each activity within the competition with the winner receiving a fully-funded drive in the 2013 Australian Suzuki Swift Racing Series, in a car fully sponsored by the Shannons Nationals.
Callan Sayers (QLD)
Cairns local Sayers, a mechanical Engineering student at Queensland University of Technology, started karting aged 9 and is a multiple FNQ champion. Finished second in final round of 2012 Suzuki Swift Racing Series.
Stuart-Ross French (QLD)
Started in karts in 1997 at age 7 and moved through the ranks with notable results of QLD Closed State Title wins in 2003 (JNL) and 2007 (CL). Driver for the UQ FSAE team, UQRacing, competing annually at the Australasian FSAE competition, whilst also studying Mechanical Engineering at UQ.
Luke Fraiser (SA)
Debuting in mid-2010 at the age of 20, Luke has achieved outstanding results in his first 18 months in Formula Vee Racing. This led him to make the step up to a Formula Ford Duratec where he won the SA State title in 2012. He has also competed in the fledgling Circuit Excel Category with good results.
Andrew has been competing in Motorkhanas, Sprints and Hill Climbs age 14. “I know I have the ability to drive a car and I am hoping that this will provide the springboard for my career and if nothing else this will be a fantastic experience to learn and develop from,” he says.
Mitch Lukasz (SA)
A member of SA’s Southern Districts Car Club Junior Development program, Mitch has competed in State hillcilmbing championships for several seasons including winning his class in the 2011 Mount Alma Mile hillclimb.
Mark Theyer has over 20 years driving experience in vehicles such as the Mazda RX7 and Mini Cooper and has completed a BMW advanced driver training course. “I love to drive and enjoy virtual world racing, so I’m keen to test if my simulation driving skills can make the transition into the real world and mix it up with the talented drivers in the challenge,” he says.
Gai Appel (NSW)
Gai owns business Hellfire Hotrods based in Oki, in regional New South Wales, and has been drag racing for more than 10 years racing in ANDRA-sanctioned bracket events in a Ford Falcon and Ford Mustang. Her business restores and ‘pimps’ classic cars and Gai has a collection of more than 30 vehicles – including a classic 1948 Riley RMB; the first car advertised to be able to achieve 100mph – in her collection.
Steve Weston (NSW)
Steve has competed in club level events driving (amongst other things) a quick RX-7 that laps Wakefield Park in 1m06 seconds. Has competed in hillclimbing recently and has also had a crack at Karting, Trail Biking, Road Biking and more.
Ben Grice (QLD)
22-year-old Townsville local Ben Grice started karting just four years ago. Now based in Brisbane and as a member of Ipswich Kart Club he has competed throughout Queensland for most of the last 8 years highlighted by wins at a regional level and consistently racing within the top ten at the QLD State Titles. He has substantial Formula Ford, Aussie Racing Car and Production-based car testing experience and will use the competition to make next step in his career.
Keishi Ayukai (QLD)
Started karting in 2005 and is a multiple Queensland champion in various karting classes throughout the state. Has tested Formula Fords for Anglo Motorsport, plus Aussie Racing Cars at Morgan park and multiple days in production cars at Queensland Raceway.
Reece Murphy (QLD)
Burst onto the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals scene in 2012 in the Swift Racing Series, finishing second overall after a mighty championship battle the entire season long. Quick, committed and dedicated Reece was one of the star rookie performers across all Shannons Nationals categories last year.
Bronte Michael (QLD)
Bronte began raving at Morgan Park aged 14 (4 years ago) in a Datsun 120Y. Won the Junior class of the 2011 Qld Super Sprint Title and regularly competes in regularity and sprint events at Queensland Raceway and Lakeside. Recently began competing in historic Touring Car Racing, driving an XU1 Torana. 5th outright in Regularity Event at 2012 Bathurst Motor Festival.