Team B&Q Jet York City Racing are delighted to announce the appointment of Australian racing driver Hyla Breese to the team. Hyla will be joining the team with effect from the next race at Croft to support Jim Edwards Junior in his push to win the...
Team B&Q Jet York City Racing are delighted to announce the appointment of Australian racing driver Hyla Breese to the team. Hyla will be joining the team with effect from the next race at Croft to support Jim Edwards Junior in his push to win the championship. Hyla's appointment is a result of the continuing injury suffered by John B&Q in his crash at Oulton Park. John has been advised not to race for the remainder of the season.
Hyla said of his appointment "I am delighted to have the opportunity to drive this season for Team B&Q, looking forward to the rest of the season, being part of a great team and putting on a good show for the BandQsi".
Due to family commitments Peter Cate is unable to continue in the substitute role for John. The team would like to express their thanks for his expert input and wish him well with his expanding family, certain in the knowledge that Cato will be back behind a steering wheel before long.
Hyla Breese profile:
Name: Hyla Breese
Position: BTCC Team Driver
Born: Feburary 20th, 1976
Lives: Norwich, Norfolks
1992-1995 100cc Sprint Kart Racing in Australia
1996 Jim Russell Racing Driver School Formula Vauxhall Junior - 5th Position
1997 Formula Vauxhall - Class Champion
1998 Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series - Two Races
1999 Race Instruction
2000 Autobytel Lotus Elise Championship - Two Races/Two Wins
2001 Autobytel Lotus Elise Championship - 3rd Position
2002 BTC-P -- Team B&Q Honda Accord Replacement Driver
Hyla Breese was born just outside the city of Perth, in Western Australia, where he spent a lot of my time in the countryside or, as Aussies call it, The Bush. "My parents had various enterprises in the North West of Australia; the first being earth moving. My dads business used to cut roads through the bush for access to remote parts of the outback."
From that the family moved to a sheep station about 2000 miles north of Perth where, because of the remoteness of the place, he had to conduct his education over a two-way radio; each week a truck would bring his schoolwork along with groceries and supplies. They lived there for about three years, surviving a number of cyclones that hit the West side of Australia.
"From the Station we moved to Canarvon which is right on the coasts about midway up the West Coast onto a banana plantation. Obviously we grew bananas throughout the year and packed them off to Perth to be sold in supermarkets. My sister Tamsyn and I started normal primary school there. It was also where I started my speed addiction getting my first motorbike at age five."
The next step on his road to becoming a racing driver was a farm in the South West of Australia where he took up boating, learned to shoot and also started rounding up sheep on motorbikes.
"As my dad was back in earth moving back in Perth, we eventually moved back to Perth onto a measly five acres. Here I started and finished high school. I had a strong desire to be a racing-driver but I wasn't sure how to go about it in the early years. So after thoughts of joining the Navy to be a helicopter pilot and being a Navy diver I decided that racing was for me. With that I got my first kart and started racing on the 100cc-sprint kart scene."
"I needed to learn fast and have access to all the best gear so I set out to get a job in a kart shop. This I achieved and then began racing all sorts of kart categories on the Flatout Karts race team. I was lucky enough to have a lot of success and I built up a big reputation, however, I knew I had to leave Australia for the UK to further my career."
May 1996 saw Hyla leaving his family behind and arriving in the UK to live with his Uncle, Auntie, and three cousins in Norwich and fulfil his mission to become a top racing-driver. With a reputation to build in his new country he headed off to the world-renowned Jim Russell Racing Driver School where he completed a weeklong course to get his race license. Despite missing the first five races, he finished an impressive fifth in their in-house Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship. He was also a top-six finalist in the Jim Russell World Scholarship.
1997 saw Hyla return from Australia with funding from his family to compete in the Formula Vauxhall Junior (FVJ) Championship with Paston Racing. "I won the Class Championship and made a big impression in the paddock with my results. To this day I don't know how my parents could afford it, but they are proud and gave the start I needed." Hyla scored an impressive haul of nine wins, three runners-ups, a third place, three lap records and five fastest laps from just 16 race starts.
"With that success I was invited to test with a couple of Renault Sport teams, the next step up. Unfortunately I had no more money and as Renault Sport then required £120,000 or more, I had to sit out the 1998 season."
With no budget and no ride things were looking bleak for Hyla in 1998 and, determined to get back on track, he decided to stay in the UK and fight for his dream. He passed his race instructors license and took up instructing before signing up to compete in the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series later on in the season. "I did do two races with the Formula Palmer Audi outfit in 1998 but that was a disaster due to mechanical issues, so we stopped doing that series."
"I had my licence to instruct, and I needed to earn a living somehow, so I started at Brands Hatch for the Nigel Mansell School, and from there I did manufacturer launch days for Vauxhall and Peugeot. I instructed at Snetterton also for the Nigel Mansell School and the Supercar School, which included Ferrari 355s, Lotus Esprits, Dodge Vipers and Porsche Carreras."
Again there was a lack of funds for 1999, but the instructing continued which got him out onto circuits and meeting the right people. The following season started off much the same way and Hyla started working for Lotus at their Lotus Driver Training Experience. He also got involved in their product promotion days at racetracks around the UK and became well known in the Lotus circles as one of the top drivers alongside Alistair McQueen (Chief instructor and test driver).
"In 2000 I spent much of my time at Lotus working, and from that I got to meet a lot of people and it presented to me the opportunity to do a race in the Autobytel Lotus Sport Championship. I paid for it with my own money earned throughout the year and headed to Brands Hatch for the double-header races in August. I got the deal to race in the Japanese car that had done badly all year."
"I qualified fifth which astounded a lot of people. I had only done five minutes testing compared with three quarters of a season for the regular drivers. Then I won the first race, after a 2-3 year gap since my last outing, in a car that was thought to be rubbish. This put me on pole for the second race. After a hard fought battle with Adam Wilcox and Spencer Marsh, they clashed and I drove through them to win my second race out of two."
This double success generated a lot of interest and eventually led to sponsorship from two Lotus lovers; Neil Glover from Storm Aviation and Ian Mason from MiS (www.misuk.net). This deal gave Hyla the opportunity to get his career back on track in 2001 and he signed to do the full campaign in the car that had just won the championship. Things were looking up.
"My friend and fellow instructor Tony Parramint has been helping me with the deals and finding sponsorship since that weekend. He is truly a great friend. I couldn't have got this far without him. He's a bit like a dad. He kicks me when I need it and praises me when I need it. His ability as a driver manager is incredible and comes naturally to him. His people skills are awesome and he has a very big heart. He doesn't want anything for his efforts, but some day I will be able to repay him. Willi Webber look out!!"
At the end of the season Hyla was unlucky to miss out on second place overall in the drivers championship after a late-race clash with Mark Fullalove at Paddock Hill Bend. He was the most consistent driver in the championship and achieved a total of six podium places, one fastest lap, one lap record and one pole position. He had also made a lot of friends with his willingness to meet and talk with the fans and, towards the end of the season, a couple of inflatable kangaroos named Skippy and Dano became regular supporters at race-tracks throughout the UK.
At seasons end he was offered a top drive in the British Touring Car Championship, in the all-conquering Vauxhall Astra alongside Matt Neal, but funding could not be found in time and Paul O'Neill got the drive instead. Yet again Hyla had been frustrated by lack of funding and he thought that he would be sitting the season out once again. However, when Peter Cate decided to step down from his seat in the BTCC production class Honda Accord entered by the colourful York City Racing outfit, he jumped at the opportunity to step in and finish the rest of the season.
It has been a long and troubled road from that banana plantation to the British Touring Car Championship but, finally, Hyla has achieved his ambition of racing in one of the world's most renowned and competitive racing series.