Rod Bends his way to hill climb heroics

Wednesday 13 February, 2019
Tasmania’s events calendar has begun to heat up, as Rod Bender put on a sensational display to win the Must Love Cars Highclere Hillclimb.
Photo: Rick Burt

Tasmania’s events calendar has begun to heat up, as Rod Bender put on a sensational display to win the Must Love Cars Highclere Hillclimb.

Behind the wheel of the VW Golf R, Bender only needed four of the available six runs to post the day’s fastest time, more than a second a half faster than his closet competitor.

Bender’s decision to sit out on the day’s fourth and fifth runs paid dividends as he was able to cross the line in 33.36 seconds, just under two seconds faster than his previous run. 

Finishing behind Bender in second was Gary van der Drift, the Nissan 200SX pilot’s final run of the afternoon recorded at a solid 34.88 seconds. 

Despite van der Drift using up all six runs, he was unable to catch Bender, but still went home with some silverware, claiming the D class.

The battle for third was a much closer affair with around half a second separating three drivers, and it was Liam Hooper who ended up on the podium’s final step over Sheridan Budsworth and Kerry Luck.

Like Bender, Hooper sat out of the fourth and fifth run of the day, saving his best till last, steering his WRX to an impressive 35.39 seconds to secure third and a class second behind the outright winner.

Budsworth and Luck also waited until late to secure their eventual positions, with both drivers leapfrogging Nathan Oliver on the final run to finish fourth and fifth respectively.

Oliver was on track for a top three battle with Hooper after recording his eventual fastest time in the third run of the day, however it wasn’t meant to be as the Mazda RX8 driver was unable to improve on his time for the rest of the day.  

It was a tough day for Oliver who also fell just short of a Class E victory, with Budsworth and her Nissan Skyline securing the class, as well as the event’s driver of the day.

Other class battles saw outright 10th Adrian Hodgetts and his Datsun win the Class C, another Datsun driver in Kyle Peters claim Class B and Leigh Ford take out Class A in his Honda Civic.

Click here to view the full results from the Must Love Cars Highclere Hillclimb.

The next Tasmanian hill climb will take place in April, while the next state level event to take place will be the CAMS Tasmanian Circuit Racing Championship at Symmons Plains on 24 February. 

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