ARMED WITH A new tyre package, the popular HQ Holden class will be chasing their long-standing Mount Panorama lap record during Easter’s Bathurst Motor Festival.

The April 6-8 event will be the first major HQ hitout on the new Kenda Tyres, through a two-year deal inked between HQ Racing Australia and local Kenda importer Highway Tyres. With a bumper field of leading competitors from across the country set to converge on Bathurst, the class hopes to challenge their existing lap record.

Dating way back to 1997, Peter Holmes holds the current HQ lap record, with a lap of 2:56.0330 around the famous 6.2km circuit. That time was set during the era of using high-octane aviation gas to fuel the cars, with the class now using pump fuel.

“We haven’t been close to it for a few years,” Dale Youd from HQ Racing Australia said of the lap record.

“The new Kenda tyres have a slightly lower profile, which should give us slightly better handling. I’ve had some discussions with some of the guys and while it might limit our top-speed down Conrod – the cars are maxed out down there – the advantage with slightly lower gearing should mean that they’re slightly quicker everywhere else.

“With that and a high-quality field, I’m reasonably confident that we’ll be having a look at the lap record, which should be good.”

Being phased in throughout the year, the Kenda tyres were first used in a Victorian state round at Winton in early March. Represented by just under half of the field, Kenda drivers filled four of the top five spots in qualifying, with Ken Wright going on to win the weekend.

“This is probably our biggest dive into motorsport. We’ve had an interest in the past, but not to this extent,” Mitch Grant, Sales and Marketing Manager for Highway Tyres, said.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for Highway Tyres and Kenda, working with a group the size of the HQ competitor base.

"From the race meeting at Winton, Ken Wright was the overall champion of the day and he was very glowing in his appraisal of the tyres. Another driver running the Kenda Tyres, Stephen Whyte set the fastest lap of the day. So it was a great start.”

Using Holden’s popular HQ sedan, the low-cost class paved the way for one-make racing in Australia, holding their first race meeting in Tasmania in 1988. In 2012, it’s as strong as ever, with more than 40 entries received for the Bathurst meeting. Teams will tackle a pair of one-hour races and have the opportunity of enlisting a co-driver.

“It’s still quite a quick car,” Youd said of the HQ.

“There’s not a lot of horsepower, but it’s a good all-round package, everything complements each other; we get the maximum out of them and they put on close racing.”

HQ Holdens will be joined at the Bathurst Motor Festival by the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship, Aussie Racing Cars, Production Sportcars, Group N Historic Touring Cars and Regularity events for the NSW Road Racing Club and the Porsche Club NSW.

With three big days of on-track action, spectator entry to the April 6-8 Event at Mount Panorama will be via a ‘bank note’ donation to official Event charity Legacy.