Oastler climbs to the top

It was a close finish at the hill climb time trials at the weekend, with less than half a second separating the first two drivers.

Bryant Park in Yallourn hosted the 2016 Australian Hill Climb Championship and attracted some of Australia’s best hill climb drivers in the four-day event.

Current Australian champion Malcolm Oastler claimed the win with the fastest time, cementing his spot as number one in Australia with a third straight championship.

Oastler needed just three runs to record his winning time, completing the 1.25 kilometre track in 44.21 seconds.

Oastler is an ex-Formula One car designer, which Gippsland Car Club secretary John Bryant said helped him perform well.

“He had a career in Formula One in Europe and came back here, purchased a cattle farm and retired,” Bryant said.

“He likes building race cars and he has the knowledge and skills required.”

Local drivers from Leongatha, Brett Hayward and Greg Ackland, claimed second and third overall with times of 44.60 and 45.59. Both drivers recorded their fastest time in their second run, leaving a one second margin between them and the rest of the field.

Bryant said Oastler, Hayward and Ackland were the favourites to win the event.

“On any given day, any of these three can win,” Bryant said.

“Before the event everyone knew it was between these three.”

The trio made for the fastest three drivers in the timed practice on Friday, with Ackland recording 45.54, followed by Oastler, 45.78, and Hayward, 45.82.

The overall track record was broken three times over the weekend, which Bryant labelled as a highlight.

“The weather and the track were both excellent, which made record breaking a distinct possibility,” Bryant said.

The event finished with a Top 10 Shootout, with the fastest five racing cars and the fastest five tin-top cars battling it out.

Local drivers had success in the shootout, with Gippsland Car Club member Peter Minahan winning the racing cars division and Traralgon’s Kevin Mackrell winning the tin-top section.

*Aimee Dawson is a journalism student from La Trobe University.