High profile Kiwi ex-pat driver Rod Millen is aiming to claim his place back on the podium, at the Silverstone Race to the Sky in the Cardrona Valley at Easter next year, after being edged out for the first time in four years at last year's event.
Millen is a crowd favourite in his distinctive Toyota Hi Lux and in 2002 won the King of the Mountain title and was runner-up in both 2003 and 2004. Last year he was relegated to fourth place after Monster Tajima of Japan stormed into first place followed by Swedish World Rally ace Kenneth Eriksson and leading Kiwi Andrew Hawkeswood.
Millen has been a regular competitor in the past at the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado and has been a loyal supporter of the Race to the Sky since its inception.
"It's always great to see Rod back for the Race to the Sky, " says Event Promoter Grant Aitken. " He adds a lot of colour and the spectators love his aggressive driving style. He is particularly gutsy over the jump in the Rally Shoot Out around the flats on the course and always get s a lot more air than anyone else."
The Millen show looks like being a family affair this year with Rod's son Rhys indicating he plans to return to the Race to the Sky.
Rhys is a premier North American rally driver, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in various race series events including Pikes Peak, an event which he won in 2001.
"We are very excited about the idea of having Rhys back at the Race to the Sky after several years," says Aitken. " In 2002 we had two Millens on the podium when Rod won the event and Rhys finished third. It will be good to see them battling it out again."
Rhys Millen is the most sought after precision car driver in the United States.
He recently took on the role of lead driver for the movie "Fast and Furious II" and was the daring stunt driver for the remake of "The Dukes of Hazzard."
He is also one of the top world competitors in drifting (Formula D) winning the 2004 season finale title at the Irwindale Speedway in the United States and the 2005 season opening title at Wall Speedway in New Jersey. Rod Millen also competes in drifting events from time to time making his debut at Wall Speedway when his son won the title.
"We can expect some pretty exciting action from Rhys at the Race to the Sky," says Aitken. " With his background and experience he's certainly a driver to be watched."
Seven times winner and defending title holder Monster Tajima of Japan will be aiming to make it eight times as King of the Mountain at the 2006 Race to the Sky and there will be a strong challenge from Erikkson in the former Possum Bourne WRC Subaru.
There is strong interest in the race with entries now starting to roll in for the 125 available places. Entries close on March 10 2006.
Gates open from 7.30am on both days. Gate admission $35 per adult, school children $10 and under 5’s free. Gold Pass $125.