TUESDAY, MAY 6: A race-bred 1926 French car driven by Victoria's two-times Shannons Historic Competition winner John Lawson will be the official 'Flag Car' in next week's Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
The AC Amilcar Grand Sport will have two roles -- firstly as Lawson's competition vehicle, and secondly as the 'Flag Car' leading the field away from the start each day during the May 13-18 event, which is promoted by global sports and events marketing company Octagon.
Lawson, a 63-year-old Melbourne businessman ,drove a 1938 Alfa Romeo in Targa the past three years, winning the Historic Competition in 2000 and 2002, and finishing third in 2001.
"It's an honour to be the 'Flag Car', but I'm coming back to Targa to win," he said. "My new car is faster and lighter than the Alfa, but it bounces around a lot more on the bumps."
"The Amilcar started life as an open-wheeler, and running on Methanol it was capable of doing a standard quarter-mile in 12-seconds."
Lawson's Amilcar weighs 700kg and is powered by a two-litre supercharged six-cylinder engine which generates about 170-horsepower.
When Lawson purchased the car in 2002 it was in circuit-racing trim, and he has spent the past 12 months converting it to the road-going specifications to comply with Targa regulations.
"We've re-built it to a road car, adding lights, guards, and other things," he said. "When I got the car didn't have a handbrake or reverse gear so a lot of work has been done."
"You can drive this car accurately and I think it will be at its best on the winding sections of the course, and the fast stages. Keeping your concentration and finishing every day is what counts."
The Amilcar Lawson will race in Targa previously won historic races at Phillip Island, Eastern Creek, and various other circuits.
Lawson said his favourite part of the Targa course was the Mount Arrowsmith, Tarraleah, and Ellendale stages on the final afternoon.
"These roads are very challenging, especially in the wet, but I find I can make good time there even though it's near the end and everyone is starting to get tired," he said.
Entries in Targa have increased to 267, headed by six-times champion Richards, and Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver in a Porsche, and multiple Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock and V8 Supercar driver Steven Richards in works-supported V8 Holden Monaros. Other contenders include Tasmanians Jason White and South Australian Steve Glenney in Nissan Skyline GTRs, and Porsche 911 drivers Tony Quinn of Queensland and Victorian Jeff Beable.
This year's rally will be the 12th annual Targa event in Tasmania since 1992, and will be contested over a total distance of 2,299km, with 464km competitive, plus the Temco Prologue.
The four competitions in Targa are Shannons Historic (for cars from 1900-46), Shannons Touring Classic (1947-65), Classic (1900-81), and Modern (1982-2003). There is also a new non-competition Shannons Tour class for rare and exotic historic and classic cars.