Portman heads Hyundai charge at Rally of Melbourne
Team Hyundai Rally will have its work cut out chasing the Class P2 (1200 to 1600cc) honors at this week’s NGK Rally of Melbourne against the two highly modified Mitsubishi Mirages. Two times former Australian Rally Champion, Geoff Portman, is set for the challenge of this small car class – he has been invited (in fact he asked!) to drive the Hyundai Team Victorian Rallydrive Hyundai Challenge’ series leading car.
Portman will drive the Kangan Batman TAFE-prepared Hyundai that has been campaigned by Paul Batten and Craig Jones in the 2007 Victorian Rally Championship. Batten currently leads the Victorian Rallydrive Hyundai One Make Rally Challenge and is also in contention for the Victorian 2WD championship.
The Hyundai Challenge cars have very few modifications and are quite heavy compared to the other cars in the class. Tipping the scales at around the 1000kg mark, and with an unmodified standard spec engine (producing around 70kw), Portman will have to rely on his local knowledge of the Rally of Melbourne roads, and his determination, to get the most out of the Hyundai.
"The Hyundai gives away quite a lot of horsepower, weight and traction to the Mirage – they have close ratio competition gear boxes, limited slip diffs and large four wheel disc brakes. On paper the Mirage should eat us up but as the results have shown in various State based series’, the Hyundai is surprisingly quick and an ultra reliable package.” Hyundai Team Manager, Mick Gillett said.
The Mirage of ARC regulars Molly Taylor, with new co-driver Glen Weston, along with Leigh and Ken Garrioch in a second Mirage, will need to keep an eye on their rear vision mirrors for the blue Hyundai of Geoff Portman. Portman will be joined in the Hyundai Accent by Motorsport News journalist, Andrew van Leeuwen. At 21 years of age, van Leeuwen has a successful motorsport background as a Formula Ford racer but admits to never having rallied and he has not yet sat in the dubious seat of rally navigator.
Interestingly, the van Leeuwen family business is Drive Safe Australia and thus Andrew has prepared and driven Hyundai cars, as well as having introduced celebrity drivers to various corporate challenge outings associated with Telstra Rally Australia, over several years.
Excitement is building in all areas to support Team Hyundai Rally. Makin & Luby Hyundai of Melbourne has paid the entry fee, anticipating the Kangan Batman car will visit the Heidelberg showroom with a class winner trophy after the rally. Hyundai Australia is sending Sydney Spare Parts Manager Mick Gillett and a leading workshop technician to oversee activities at the
Yarra Glen Rally Service Park. Kangan Batman TAFE have completed final prep work ready for pre-event safety scrutineering this week.
In the meantime, Geoff Portman and Andrew van Leeuwen are setting out to make Special Stage pace notes and develop the all important communication between driver and navigator that will ensure a fast and unrelenting attack from the first drop of the start flag. Clean your mirrors, Molly – this Hyundai is out to chase you down!!