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Young drivers following footsteps of famous fathers

NEED FOR SPEED: Aaron Seton getting some air in the Toyota 86 series in Townsville.
NEED FOR SPEED: Aaron Seton getting some air in the Toyota 86 series in Townsville. Toyota Australia

EVER since he was a little kid, Ben Grice has wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and compete in motorsport.

Grice is the son of former Australian Touring Car legend Allan Grice, who won two Bathurst 1000s, including claiming the first ever victory for the Holden Racing Team at the mountain in 1990.

Now, slowly but surely, Grice is building his own career in the sport.

He competes in the Toyota 86 series - a one-make series developed to provide a level playing field and a cheap entry into a national motorsport category by the Japanese car company.

Based on the road car, only a couple of parts of the vehicle are changed to maintain the feel of the machine but still provide the driver with a test in skill, stamina and crafting their talents to higher categories in the future.

It is the perfect breeding ground for young drivers and those looking to further progress their careers like Grice.

"I started quite late. I was in speedway in Queensland then moved into the Suzuki Swift series where I finished second in the series," he said.

"I then moved to saloon cars, which is Ford and Holden V6 cars, and finished second."

He has been in the Toyota 86 series for the past two seasons, since it debuted last year in Australia.

"I ran a season last year in car nine, had some flashes of speed but had an unlucky run," he said.

"I've moved on to another entry and got a lot of good people on board."

He showed his pace at the last round in Townsville with two top-five finishes, as he moved inside the top 10 in the standings after a drama-filled first round in Phillip Island.

This weekend they will compete at Sydney Motorsport Park in the next round of the series.

Grice hopes the championship is a building stone to a successful career.

"I'm 26 and I think I'm a late bloomer but I've still got a long way to go," he said.

"(The goal is ultimately Supercars), it's the pinnacle of Australian motorsport and to start at Bathurst is my goal."

He will have to do it without the financial support of his father, who doesn't provide a cent to help him race.

"He said 'if you want to do it, good luck'," Grice said.

"He gives me advice but I've had to source the funds and drives myself.

"He doesn't come to my race and never pushed me to get involved."

Not that it worries Grice in the slightest but he does admit he has the same traits as his father when he raced.

"I'm very similar," he said.

"There's plenty of mongrel and plenty of go in me.

"It does bring another set of attention from the stewards."

 

RISING STARS: Ben Grice, Aaron Seton and Cameron Hill.
RISING STARS: Ben Grice, Aaron Seton and Cameron Hill.

But Grice competes for one reason.

"There's no better feeling than going door to door with someone," he said.

"It's a tough way to do it (fund yourself) but it makes the rewards and the tough days even sweeter.

"Hopefully I can get some good results in the next few rounds of the series."

Grice isn't the only father-son competitor going around, with Aaron Seton also involved in the series.

Aaron is the son of former Supercars driver Glenn Seton, who won two Australian Touring Car Championship titles in 1993 and 1997.

The 18-year-old Seton will be looking for a better meeting in Sydney after a crash in race two in Townsville eliminated him from the final race of the weekend.

He currently sits 18th in the championship and is already on the path to Supercars after competing in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series - the third tier of Supercars - at its recent round in Ipswich.

Both drivers will be looking to stop fellow youngster Cameron Hill, who looms as one of the championship contenders for the series in the final few rounds.

The Canberra driver, who won the Formula Ford title in 2015, completed a clean sweep in Townsville, winning the two completed races as well as topping qualifying and practice.

"The car was on rails (that weekend)," he said.

"It's a testament to the team and the amount of preparation and work behind the scenes they do.

"When I drive I'm confident 90% of the job is done thanks to them."

The 20-year-old Hill also believes it is the perfect series for his future goals.

"It's a good platform to get sponsors and get more backing behind you," he said.

"You have to be on the knife edge (with the cars) and they like to dance around.

"They really set you up to drive heavier cars."

One of those, of course, is Supercars.

"I have that in my sights," he said.

"Whatever door opens you have to take the opportunity as it comes."

Hill has also used the insights of invitational drivers, who have been brought in by the series to compete and offer guidance to the young drivers.

In Townsville, Supercars drivers Alex Davison, Dean Canto and Steve Owen provided valuable guidance.

"It's been really great to pick their brains," Hill said.

"For me you just get along with them as any other racer and you go wheel to wheel with them.

"They do offer a lot to the rookies and the guys coming out of karts."

He will need all the help he can to close the gap to Jimmy Vernon, who leads the series by 126 points, ahead of Hill in second.

Vernon has been the star of the series so far, finishing inside the top two in each race.

If he continues in that form the championship will be his.

The next round of the series starts on Friday with the first practice session at 7.35am at Sydney Motorsport Park


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