White aims for new Targa title
Two-time Targa Tasmania winner, Burnie's Jason White, will start the new Targa High Country event as the hot favourite in his Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
As the leading driving in tarmac rallying in Australia after a stellar past twelve months, the Tasmanian is approaching Targa High Country with great enthusiasm.
"The new event should be a great challenge, and I'm really looking forward to it," White said.
"Mt Buller is a fantastic place to base a rally, and with the selection of roads on offer over the three days, it should provide great competition."
White will once again be co-driven by his uncle, John White. With three victories from their last three starts, they are the combination that everyone sees as the benchmark for the new event.
"Our aim is to win every rally we enter, but a new event always throws up new challenges and we just hope that we can overcome those challenges better than everyone else," White said.
One of those challenges is a different specification Lamborghini to that which they took to victory at Targa Tasmania in back in May this year. Revised rules, relating to production car status, have affected a number of entrants. In effect, his car will be less technologically advanced.
"We've had to go from Super Trofeo Strada spec back to Superleggera specs, which means we've lost quite a bit of downforce on the car.
"We've lost the big rear wing and the rear diffuser, as well as the front bumper bar/splitter that was very effective.
"I don't think we'll see much difference in the car on the tight and twisty roads, but on the higher speed stages it could be an issue.
"We've also had to remove the electronic centre differential from the car. But that's the way it is and we just have to get on with the job and try to be the first to get our names on the Targa High Country Trophy," White added.
White's biggest challengers for victory in Targa High Country are expected to come from Steve Glenney in a factory-supported Mazda RX8 SP, Tony Quinn in a four-wheel drive Nissan GT-R, and Australian motorsport legend Jim Richards, at the wheel of his Porsche GT2 with his trusty co-driver, Tasmanian Barry Oliver.
The Targa High Country field includes competitions for cars in the Early Classic, Late Classic, Early Modern, Modern and Showroom classes with most major makes of vehicle represented.
It is the first event of the new three round series known as the Australian Targa Championship. The second round is Targa Wrest Point in January with the final round being Targa Tasmania in April.
Targa High Country kicks off with a 3.5 kilometre street stage in Mansfield on Friday afternoon, with a further eight Targa stages on both Saturday and Sunday across a total competitive distance of 213 kilometres.
Saturday heads north to Wangaratta via Whitfield and return, while Sunday's stages head south to Eildon via Jamieson. Both days will conclude with a 16 kilometre stage up Mt Buller.