For the first time in two years, the Uni SA Australian Human Powered Vehicle Super Series pedals back into gear in the heart of Mount Gambier this weekend.
Tomorrow, 76 teams will takeover the Rail Lands precinct to complete scrutineering before embarking on an eight-hour endurance test at the 2.4km McNamara Park circuit on Saturday.
The popular HPV Super Series was forced to take a year off in 2020 due to COVID-19, but is primed to return bigger than ever.
Series chairman Andrew McLachlan said last year’s pain has created even more anticipation around the return of racing in the Limestone Coast.
“We are excited at the thought of starting up again,” he said.
“It was at this time last year we pulled the pin on the Mount Gambier event which was frustrating, but us and the teams are really keen to get cracking and it should be a great weekend.”
Despite the pandemic creating many obstacles for community sports to generate previous participation numbers, the Pedal Prix organisers expect their amount of competitors to trend in the right direction.
McLachlan said the overwhelmingly positive response from the teams to jump back in their Human Powered Vehicles again has been a welcome surprise.
“In 2019 we started the race with 76 teams and at the moment we have 77, so we are very pleased,” he said.
“We were pessimistic at the start of the year because we did not know the effect of COVID would have in terms of people coming back after a year off, so it is reassuring to get positive feedback from the teams, who are willing to do whatever it takes to make it a safe and successful event.”
Being an eight-hour event, McLachlan said the demanding nature of the race pulls people together to cross the finish line.
“It is no walk in the park and is hard work,” he said.
“It is a terrific team building exercise for a school or the broader community to come together which is what we love about it.”
A significant part of the race is the involvement of the Limestone Coast community.
Of the 76 entries, 17 are locals including teams from the Glencoe, Glencoe Central Morak and Yahl, Mount Gambier North, Naracoorte, St Martins, Kingston, Mount Gambier High and Millicent schools.
McLachlan said the enthusiasm shown by the region towards the sport is a major reason why the series came to Mount Gambier in 2016 and it has grown ever since.
“One of the reasons we started in Mount Gambier was thanks to lobbying from local parents and schools to push for a Limestone Coast event, so we were keen to do that,” he said.
“We also have 30-odd teams coming from Victoria which is another reason why we love the event.
“The whole feel of McNamara Park is great because it is such a safe circuit for us.
“The support of the Mount Gambier Motorcycle Club and City of mount Gambier makes it a terrific season opener.”
Scrutineering takes place from 12pm to 4pm at the Rail Lands tomorrow afternoon, while racing begins at 9am at McNamara Park before the chequered flag is waved at 5pm.