BSSC Alumni, Rhys Howell, is gearing up for one of the toughest challenges of his motorsport career – an exciting first Bathurst 12-hour campaign.

The 25-year-old, who graduated from the college in 2010, will drive for Melbourne-based Daytona Sportscars in the endurance feature at Mount Panorama this weekend, partnering Jamie Augustine and Dylan Thomas.

The trio’s Daytona Coupe will carry the number 65.

A 53-car field is highlighted by 13 ‘pro’ class entries and 12 ‘pro-am’ entries, with Howell and team-mates lining up in the ‘invited’ class.

The list of drivers reads like a who’s who of Australian motorsport, including reigning champions Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes, who will be with different teams and cars this time around, Shane van Gisbergen, Garth Tander, Steven Richards and reigning Bathurst 1000 champions Dave Reynolds and Luke Youlden.

Howell, who has 10-years of experience as a driver across several classes and is making his first trip to Bathurst as a competitor, said it was a dream come true to race at iconic Mount Panorama.

He heads into the three-day event full of confidence behind the wheel of the Coupe, with its seven-litre V8 engine capable of pushing out 730 horsepower.

“The car is a class-winning car and is more than capable of winning its class again,” Howell said.

“It’s lapping at similar times to what the V8 Supercars are lapping.

“The car actually holds the fastest speed down Conrod Straight of 300 kilometres per hour, or just over.”

Howell expects to spend roughly four-hours inside the car during the 12-hour, in conditions that would test the strongest and fittest of athletes.

“Inside the cabin can reach up to 60-degrees,” he explained.

“You are equipped with cool suits, but it’s very physically and mentally demanding.”

Motorsport is in the blood for Howell, who is a cabinet-maker in Bendigo.

His dad Andrew Howell was heavily involved in the racing game and so too was his grandfather Neville Howell.

Rhys got his start in motorkhana with the Bendigo Car Club, before his attention turned to hill climbing, the class he was crowned 2009 Australian champion.

A stint in circuit racing culminated in a Formula Ford deal and a pair of starts in the Victorian Circuit Racing Championships in a rebuilt R32 Skyline (2015) and Lamborghini Gallardo (2017).

Beyond Bathurst, Howell has his sights set on the contesting the Australian Sports Car Championship in the Lamborghini.

The series includes five rounds – two each at his favourite track Phillip Island and Sandown and one at Winton.

Kieran Iles – Bendigo Advertiser 30 January 2018