AUS: Targa Tasmania preview

Targa Tasmania breaks barriers with record numbers Australia's ultimate tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, is set to establish new records in 2008 with more than 300 competitors expected to start the five-day event on April 15. Event Director, Mark...

Targa Tasmania breaks barriers with record numbers

Australia's ultimate tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, is set to establish new records in 2008 with more than 300 competitors expected to start the five-day event on April 15.

Event Director, Mark Perry, is happy with the results his team has achieved after some of the biggest changes in Targa Tasmania's 17-year history.

"We're stoked," Perry said. "We've got 350 applications and it looks like we are going to break the 300 barrier for actual starters, maybe even stretch it further. It's great for the event and the promotion of Tasmania."

The record field for Targa is 299 starters, achieved in the 2000 millenium event which ran for six days. The biggest field ever for a five-day Targa is 291, a benchmark set in 2002 and 2004.

Every aspect of Targa Tasmania is continuing to grow, with the recent changes to the rally gaining support from locals and competitors.

"To have gone from 76 Classic entries two years ago to more than 120 in this year's event is fantastic.

"We will also have at least six vintage cars, and they are always a crowd favourite."

The Rookie Rallye, which was only set up last year and saw 31 cars take part on debut, has also been a success for the iconic Tasmanian event.

"A lot of people knocked it, saying it made it too easy for people to get into Targa," Perry said.

"But this is a competitors' event. We have 42 people who have never entered the event joining us this year, who probably wouldn't have come without the Rookie Rallye."

Fourteen of those who did the Rookie event last year have stepped up to the full Targa in 2008.

Another new class to the Targa family is the inclusion of Showroom, as a full competition for both 2WD and 4WD vehicles, and 17 cars have entered.

"We have six factory teams saying they will definitely be here in 2009, but with 17 cars this year, including Mazdas, Toyotas, Mitsubishis and Subarus, we are more than happy with our Showroom field as a starter of things to come."

The 2008 Rally has also had a big rejuvenation in its itinerary, condensing the course to make it more beneficial to locals and competitors.

"The course is great. We have managed to trim 300 kilometres off the overall distance while increasing competitive kilometres to record levels.

"We had to centralise it as there was a lot of travel, a lot of accommodation and it made Targa logistically hard to do.

"It was all in the vision of having a viable event in five to ten years time and making it easier for everyone."

Targa Tasmania has gained an international reputation since its first running in 1992 and continues to attract competitors from around Australia, the USA, UK, UAE, Japan and Hong Kong.

The event kicks off from Launceston on April 15 and will take competitors along some of the best roads in the world as they make their way to the Hobart finish line on April 20.

-credit: targatasmania.com.au

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Series Other rally