Bender makes it two from two

Tuesday 26 October, 2021
Photos: JD Media
Club Motori Italia hosted another edition of its annual Domain Hillclimb on the weekend with current Motorsport Australia Tasmanian Hill Climb Champion Rod Bender winning an instant classic.
Taking place at the stunning Queens Domain in Hobart, a huge turnout of 45 drivers from around the state took part in the event, getting a maximum of six runs at the course.
Although there were a large number of competitors, the fight for the win came down to just two as Bender found himself locked in a thrilling see-saw battle with Jamie Lonergan.
Bender was the first to put down a marker, claiming the outright lead by just two tenths on the first run, before Lonergan bounced back on the next run, improving on his time by almost five seconds and claiming a two-second lead over Bender.

As the weather improved and the track got faster, both drivers were then the only ones to crack the 50 second mark on the third run, but it was Bender who significantly improved as he steered his Volkswagen Golf R to a 48.14 second run, which was five and half seconds faster than his previous attempt.
Not to be outdone, Lonergan then edged past for the lead on the fourth run as he shaved off one second from his third attempt time, regaining the lead by just one and a half tenths thanks to his run of 47.80 seconds.
With the four lead changes having already occurred, the fifth change would prove to be the last as Bender posted a 47.18 second run - his fastest of the day. Despite having two more attempts, Lonergan was unable to improve on his own time and settled for second place.
Having already have an emotional win earlier this year, Bender believed this weekend’s win almost topped his state championship victory.
“The Domain Hillclimb is one of my favourite events of the year. The club does an amazing job to set it up and there are many good people who attend,” Bender said.
“The weather was improving throughout the day which was part of the challenge and the reason we were getting faster, although on three of the five runs, I had some big moments.
“I suppose I could have run in the sixth and final run and strategically changed my position in the order to go behind Jamie, but once I saw that he didn’t beat my time, I chose not to go out.
“To win it the Domain Hillclimb is fantastic – not just because it is a great event, but because it caps off a good year where I was only able to win both hill climbs I had entered.
“While the other one was the state championship, I took more from this win because in that one, I was ahead all day by two seconds, whereas there were so many lead changes in this event and it was quite intense.
“Winning an event like this, as well as improve on every time as the day went on, you can’t ask for much more.”
Rounding out the top three was Subaru WRX pilot Garry Griffiths, who posted a solid time of 48.12 seconds on his fourth attempt – beating Marcus Easther (48.31), Damien Moore (48.94) and Vaughan Barton-Johnson (49.08) by less than one second to claim a podium position.

Click here to view the full results from the day.
However, while Griffiths to have had that third place spot locked in from early in the event, it was the manner of how he achieved the podium that impressed the competition.
On the opening run, Griffiths broke his drive shaft and was forced to go home for replacement parts. Upon his return, he fixed the car having missed only the second run and went on to post the third fastest time on the next three runs.
Griffiths wasn’t the only driver to make a quick dash home during the event with Daryl Bennett also suffering issues early and not able to post an official time.

He went home and returned in his Nissan Navara, getting time for just one attempt for which completed the course in just under 70 seconds.
Having competed in the event in the eight previous years, Bennett is on track to compete in a record 10 consecutive years and had he not run in the event, his remarkable streak would have ended.
His efforts in his tow truck helped him reach a ninth consecutive event.
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