MONDAY, AUGUST 6: Veteran Sydney driver Peter Hills and navy helicopter pilot Sam Dale are joining forces as part of a three-car Ford Mondeo team in the 2001-02 Australian Super Touring Championship. All three front-drive cars will be prepared...
MONDAY, AUGUST 6: Veteran Sydney driver Peter Hills and navy helicopter pilot Sam Dale are joining forces as part of a three-car Ford Mondeo team in the 2001-02 Australian Super Touring Championship.
All three front-drive cars will be prepared by Dale's father, Rod Dale, and Graeme Julius, at their workshop in Kempsey, NSW.
Hills, 42, has competed in the championship since its inception in 1994, and has driven Mondeos for the past four championships, winning the Independents Cup title in 1999, and finishing fourth outright in the 2000-01 series.
Dale is a 24-year-old pilot based at Nowra with the Royal Australian Navy, who made his championship debut in 2000-01 and drove a Mondeo under the Mumbo Racing banner in three rounds of the series.
Hills, who previously fielded a two-car team in the championship with emerging drivers such as NSW pair Dean Canto and Allan Gurr, said pooling resources with Dale's operation would benefit both parties.
"We both run Mondeos so joining forces gives us added advantages and utilising the skills of Rod Dale and Graeme Julius," said Hills.
"I've always enjoyed trying to help younger drivers develop their racing careers. Sam (Dale) has a great attitude to his racing, and he's also extremely well disciplined. I see no reason why he can't improve significantly over the course of the season."
Dale said teaming up with Hills would allow him to race with updated aerodynamic and mechanical components on his car, compared to the Mondeo he drove in the past season.
"This is a tremendous opportunity," said Dale. "We learnt a lot in the three rounds we ran last season, and hopefully I will be able to learn even more from Peter this season. He just has so much experience with these cars. That, combined with the fact that we will be running three cars, sharing information and parts, should make it a great season for us."
"My car will have a newer 'aero kit' and improved running gear, compared to what we raced last season, so hopefully I'll be able to take a big step forward with my results."
Dale said it was expected he would drive the Mondeo that Hills raced in the 2000-01 championship. Hills will transfer to an ex-Paul Radisich Mondeo machine previously raced in the British Touring Car Championship. The other car fielded by Hills' team in 2000-01, and raced by Gurr and Canberra's Mark Zonneveld, will be raced by a third driver to be announced in the near future.
The eight-round 2001-02 championship begins at Queensland's Lakeside Raceway on September 23. All rounds will be televised by the Seven Network -- two hours for each round and a total of 16 hours.
LEABEATER BUSY TESTING HYUNDAI
Sydney's Paul Leabeater has tested his front-drive Redline Motorsport Hyundai Lantra three times at NSW tracks Oran Park and Wakefield Park in the past month in preparation for his assault on the 2001-02 championship.
Team manager David Flood said the testing appeared to have solved the mechanical problems which hampered Leabeater in the 2000-01 series.
"The car has been running faultlessly in testing so it appears we've fixed the reliability problems we had last season," he said.
Leabeater has a new, larger transporter and Flood said the Redline team was investigating the possibility of purchasing another Super Touring vehicle to prepare and transport to race meetings in a leasing arrangement with other drivers.