Benalla teen’s budget Peugeot a contender in junior super sprint

By Meg Saultry

With motorsport considered one of the more expensive competitions to compete in, Benalla teen Liam Calder is making a name for himself by championing something he calls "budget motorsport".

Three years ago, Liam, then 13, bought a 2001 Peugeot 306 for $250 and through tender love and care – and a whole lot of research - turned the French vehicle into a race car worth about $5000 today. 

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Getting his love for race car driving, as well as the Peugeot brand, from his father Brendan, Liam said plenty of work had gone into making the car race ready and financially viable.

“All the interior came out, the floor came out and all the seats except one,” Liam, 16, said.

“We started doing stuff to it when I was 14, but I had to wait until I was 15 to drive it.

“$5000 is really cheap for a car.”

The value of Calder’s car is in stark contrast to several cars he raced against in this year's Pedders “No Bull” Winton Junior Sprint Series, with some vehicles valued at more than six figures.

In a serious showcase of Liam's skills behind the wheel though, he finished third overall in the championships behind Daniel Petsilis and Amelia Downie.

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Through a junior scholarship program, Calder, who lives in Lurg, competed in five rounds during the year at Winton Motor Raceway, with the final round last month the teen’s best effort.

He finished third for the round, behind Petsilis and Downie, to seal the podium finish in the championships.

“It was really good, I wasn’t expecting to get third,” Calder said.

“We were messing with the car a bit and changing some things.”

Shifting gears: Liam takes to the windy track of the Logic Centre in Wodonga, where he competed late last month.

Heading into the final round overall fourth in the championships, Liam needed to push harder than ever on a particularly technical track to break into the top three.

However, results soon turned in his favour during the first race of the meet, as he battled it out with nearest rival Harrison Vanzeyl to ultimately come out on top.

“I was chasing (Harrison) and he came off course twice,” Liam said.

“I got in front and then he smacked the wall. We were both pushing pretty hard.”

Liam said the result gave him further confidence that he would claim a championship placing.

Starting the series back in February, Liam started his yearly campaign behind the eight ball - with two broken hands following an innocuous incident playing soccer.

“I had a broken finger in my right hand and a broken left wrist,” Liam said.

“It was hard getting my gloves on and off, but once I started driving, I didn’t notice too much.”

Next year, Liam said he would again compete in the Pedders junior series, as the Benalla P-12 student will be younger than the age cutoff.

Liam's goal first and foremost is to better this year's result at his hometown event, with the teen aiming for a first or second-place finish.

He will also be joining Albury-Wodonga’s Lap Dash Series at the Logic Centre, which will have him compete in seven rounds.