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With The 2007 Mt Buller Sprint just three weeks away, there’s a Ford vs Holden battle of a different kind heating up.
 
The mountain at Bathurst may have crowned its victor, but in less than three weeks, another high altitude playground will host a different red vs blue challenge.
 
The Mt Buller Sprint is Australia’s leading tarmac hillclimb, with a near capacity field drawing millions of dollars to the Victorian Alpine region every year.
 
The fifth annual Mt Buller Sprint to be held on the 16.1km winding road to the alpine village, many regulars still recall the first event when Peter Brock scaled the ‘alternate’ mountain in his red Holden Monaro. His drifting displays for the crowds earned him the love of the crowd, with one avid fan painting his name on the first spectator point’s hairpin.
 
While the paint is long gone, ‘Brock Corner’ still remains, and this year the blue and red army will have a host of Fords and Holdens to cheer for – new, old and historic – when they battle the exotic Europeans, Japanese turbos and all-wheel drives.
 
More than 10 percent of the field will be proudly Australian spanning more than 40 years. Lined up for the start on November 3 for the modern cars are a turbocharged 2006 FPV F6 and a 2003 Ford XR6 Turbo, which will face off against a 2004 HSV Coupe 4 all-wheel drive. Normally auto only, the all-wheel drive HSV has been fitted with a manual transmission to offer the grip and go of Australia’s only AWD performance car. Brock’s legacy is also represented in the form of a 1980 Holden VC Brock Commodore.
 
It may be considered a classic, but the Brock Holden is still a baby next to the classic metal of two1960s Ford Mustangs, a 1963 Ford Cortina Mk I, and two rare factory V8-powered 1970s Ford Capri Peranas. One will be piloted by NRL and V8 Brute Ute champion Jack Elsgood.
 
They face on-field opposition of a 1977 Holden Torana A9X and Torana SLR 5000, a 1968 Holden HK Monaro, and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
 
The Australian car contingent will not only face a civil war, but battle a strong opposition from European and Japanese firepower.
 
Himself a Bathurst champion in a Holden with Peter Brock in 1978, 1979 and 1980, Porsche stalwart ‘Gentleman Jim’ Richards and Barry Oliver are eager to regain the title that has been twice, while rally regular and circuit sprinter Tony Quinn will provide opposition in his Porsche Carrera 911 Turbo.
 
The pair will face tough opposition from another V8 Supercar legend Tony Longhurst, and the two-time Bathurst winner is keen to add Mt Buller to his mountain-climbing resume. He will be driving a Spec C Impreza; the weapon of choice for many competitors including part-time V8 Supercar driver and TV personality Grant Denyer.
 
And Jason and John White will defend their 2006 title, where they set a new stage record of 8:42.82 in their Lamborghini Gallardo.
 
The field of over 100 cars also includes engineered prowess from Nissan, Datsun, Mazda, BMW, Elfin, Rex Broadbent’s Daytona coupe, and the Australian motorsport debut of the Lotus 2-Eleven track car currently on display at the Sydney International Motor Show.
 
Held over the long weekend of November 3-5, the 10 blistering runs up the mountain covers the 16.1 km tourist road and its 132 turns in under 10 minutes. Though the entry list is now full, a reserve list is in operation and may give punters one last shot at conquering the mountain.
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