Son of a Gun to race in 2011 V8 Ute Series
Ryan Hansford, son of the late motorbike legend Gregg Hansford will step into a V8 Ute this year to compete in the 2011 Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series - protected by Armor All.
The Queenslander has less than two years experience in motorsport with one round in the MINI Challenge series, nine rounds in a Gemini and six rounds in a Fujitsu V8 Supercar under his belt.
"I've always wanted to race. I jumped into the Gemini and kept winning so decided to keep going. We tried the V8 Supercar next and one of the only reasons we left was because of budget.
"We believe the V8 Ute series is a great way to go; it's a superb category with a full-field and exceptionally good TV for our partners," said Hansford.
Hansford will steer former V8 Ute driver Rohan Barry's Ford XR8 BF which was purchased by V8 Supercar team owner Rod Dawson.
Dawson, a former steerer himself, has supported Hansford since he first stepped into the motorsport game and thinks the V8 Ute Series is a great stepping stone for him.
"It's a well managed category and has good coverage. We saw it as the best opportunity to leverage our commercial partnerships and deliver value.
"I had an ongoing relationship with Ryan. He's a great talent. It wasn't only my decision but also our partner Truckline," explained Dawson.
Hansford suffered an injury to his ankle from a game of Rugby late in 2009 and now has a stainless steel pin in it. Dawson decided to take Hansford out of the V8 Supercar Fujitsu Series after he was unable to compete in the final round last year due to aggravating the injury.
"It's one of the reasons we decided to go to the Ute's as it's easier on the foot to drive a Ute than a Supercar," said Dawson
"We don't see the Utes has a down-step. It's hard for a small team to run in the V8 Supercar Series. The idea is for Ryan to have a year or two in the Utes and then move back into Supercars," explained Dawson.
The Redcliff based team has had previous experience in the V8 Ute Series, with Dawson guiding Grant Denyer to the inaugural V8 Ute Rookie of the Year title in 2001, and in subsequent years running a two Ute team for Denyer and Allan Grice.
Hansford plans to follow in his father's footsteps and claim a Bathurst win. He will get that chance this year during Round 6 of the Series at Mt Panorama in October. His father Gregg won the Tooheys 1000 in 1993 with Larry Perkins driving a Holden VP Commodore, was 2nd in the James Hardie Bathurst 12 Hour in the same year partnered with V8 Ute driver Charlie O'Brien, and came back the following year to claim victory in the same event with Neil Crompton in a Mazda RX-7. He also won the Sandown 500 in 1988 with Allan Moffat in a Mazda RX7.
Before switching to four wheels, Hansford was a lead rider for the Kawasaki team finishing 2nd and 3rd in the World 250 and 350 championships.
Hansford see's his Dad's former co-driver Charlie O'Brien as his main rival this year after he won the final V8 Ute Round of the 2010 Season in Sydney in December.
"He used to race with Dad, but he is also a very good and experienced driver. If he starts off the year where he left off last year then he will be one to beat," explained Hansford.
The Truckline backed driver has yet to step foot in a V8 Ute however is eager to start.
"I'm really excited. I haven't had a drive but I should be getting in it in a couple of weeks out at Willowbank."
Hansford's younger brother Rhys did a stint in the V8 Utes with support from O'Brien in 2008 but has not yet offered any advice to his older brother.
"No he hasn't offered me any and I don't think I'll ask," he said with a grin.
Other "sons of legends" to compete in the V8 Ute Series include; James Moffat (son of Allan Moffat), James Brock (son of the late Peter Brock) and Kim Jane (nephew of Bob Jane). The series is set for its most competitive year yet with Jack Elsegood, Cameron McConville, David Sieders, Chris Pither, Charlie O'Brien, Andrew Fisher, Gary Baxter, Kim Jane, Craig Dontas, Grant Johnson, and Charlie Kovacs all set to return for 2011.
-source: aus v8 utes