Warwick Hutchinson in his RPV03 racer in the Formula Libre class

PHOTO: Brisbane's Warwick Hutchinson is aiming to win back the trophy for outright fastest time at the Historic Leyburn Sprints (Pic supplied)

FAST FACTS:

  • Sat 11 Sept-Sun 12 September
  • Competition starts 8am both days (gates open 7am)
  • Adults $20 day, $30 weekend, Under 14 FREE
  • Parking, free on-street
  • Travel: Approx. 60 kms from Warwick, 220 kms from Brisbane

LEYBURN (Queensland) - A new champion will be crowned at the 25th Historic Leyburn Sprints this weekend – and Brisbane driver Warwick Hutchinson is hoping it’s his turn to take the spoils.

Hutchinson will be driving his self-built RPV03 racer in the Formula Libre class for the fastest cars among a field of around 180 competitors in the round-the-houses Sprints, which start tomorrow morning and continue all weekend.

He won the prized Col Furness Memorial Trophy in 2011-12-13, but since then has not been able to catch Dean Amos and his exotic V8 Gould GR55B single-seater.

But this time Covid-19 restrictions have trapped Amos at his Lismore, New South Wales, base and so the Formula Libre contest is wide-open for a group of hot-shot pilots, including Hutchinson, Brett Bull (Van Dieman), Ed McCane (Firehawk) and Neil Lewis (Fly).

“Brett Bull hasn’t run here (at Leyburn), but he’s quick and so is Ed McCane. There’s Neil Lewis as well, who puts everything on the line,” Hutchison said.

David Quelch (DPQ Special) and Steven Woodbridge (Dallara) also are contenders.

Hutchinson would like not only to win the outright trophy but also to break Amos’s course record of 39.794 seconds set at the last Sprints in 2019 (the event was cancelled in 2020).

He believes the weekend’s forecast hot weather approaching 30 deg. C on the southern Darling Downs will keep the cars’ slick tyres soft and make them faster.

“The heat will be good, it helps to keep the tyres warm,” Hutchinson said.

“I’m looking to at least get close to Dean’s record and then we’ll see what we can do. We’ve sorted the car a lot since we last ran at Leyburn.”

But overall, Hutchinson’s plan is just to have fun in the country surroundings at one of the most laid-back events on the annual motorsport calendar.

“Leyburn is unique, we love coming here. We’ll let the kids sit in the car and have their photos taken with mum and dad. Everyone is so friendly.

“I think we’re going to have a cracker weekend.”

While the time trials for historic, classic and performance cars are the Sprints main attraction, other highlights will include vintage caravans and Shannons Show ‘n’ Shine displays, country-style markets, a charity auction, fun run, raffles to win hot laps, appearances by the Leyburn Legends drivers including Queensland icon Dick Johnson and helicopter joy flights.

An American NASCAR sedan driven to an historic win by Australian champion Marcos Ambrose and the unique 1922 Wikner Ford Special - "Australia's oldest racing car" - will make special appearances.

Power TV Australia will live-stream the entire event via its free mobile app and the Sprints website.

The Queensland Government’s Queensland Destination Events Program and the Southern Downs Regional Council provide financial assistance to help promote the Sprints and attract visitors to the Southern Downs region. This event also has been proudly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). The Leyburn Historic Sprints were named 2017 Queensland Motor Sport Event of the Year.