Victoria takes on Tasmania in Early Modern
A Victoria versus Tasmania battle awaits the Early Modern competition at this month's Targa Wrest Point, the second round of the Australian Targa Championship.
Victorian Adam Newton and Tasmanian David Ayers are expected to wage a battle royal for class honours when the two-day event takes place on the roads southwest of Hobart on January 29 and 30.
Ayers, from Sandy Bay, is the veteran of the pack, but knows the Victorian will be hard to beat.
Early Modern, for cars manufactured between 1986 and 2002, is the largest group in the event, with over 40 entrants in the total field of 150 cars.
Newton, in his 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV RS, was second in class at Targa Wrest Point last year before rosing to prominence with victory in the 2010 Targa Tasmania Rookie Rallye.
Newton and co-driver Dan Lemish then stamped their authority on the class with victory in November's Targa High Country at Mt Buller.
But Ayers has been on the sidelines since an unfortunate incident ended his charge to Early Modern honours at last year's Targa Tasmania.
He's been rebuilding his Nismo 400R and will return to the fray to try and take his second Targa Wrest Point Early Modern victory after previously winning the title in 2009.
However, his fortune this time may depend on how his rebuilt car stands up to the rigours of competition and how quickly he can bond with a new co-driver, as his regular note-caller is away on business.
"There's no point going if you don't have a crack, so we'll be out there trying, but we start with a few reservations," Ayers said.
"Our car is untried really, as we've had to rebuild it from scratch. We'll just see how it goes, how we gel in the car, and take it from there.
"Max Griffiths will be calling the notes for me, and we're looking forward to being together in the car.
"Max is part of a dedicated team that have put the car back together. He and Damien Moore have done a huge job on the rebuild and I've got a service crew of six that I rate as highly as any service team in the business.
"They have done a fantastic getting the car ready and will keep me going across the two days of competition.
"But the competition is tough. Adam Newton is very fast, and he'll be very fast again.
"And I expect another Tasmanian, Leigh Finlayson, to be up there as well. He's done well in his (Mitsubishi) Evo in the past, and I reckon he'll be up there again."
It is a highly competitive field. Blaise Paris and Raechel Krause were third at Targa High Country in their Lancer and will be in with a chance, as will Andrew Richmond, another Victorian, in his 2001 Nissan GT-R.
Sydney motoring journalist Samantha Stevens and her South Australian co-driver, Claire Ryan, have been increasing their speed in recent events, and with further refining of their 1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI, they'll be pushing hard for a podium place.
The Early Modern category, for cars manufactured pre 2001, is dominated by Nissans and Mitsubishi, but the field also includes Mazdas, Holdens, Porsches, Subarus, Hondas, Alfa Romeos and Citroens, giving fans of most manufacturers something to cheer about.
The third running of Targa Wrest Point includes 14 closed road special stages to the south west of Hobart, with a total competitive distance of 208 kilometres.
Organised by Octagon, Targa Wrest Point is round two of the three round Australian Targa Championship that also includes Targa Tasmania, and Targa High Country in Victoria.
Media photos For media registration, call Ian Chesterman on 0417 530 902
Octagon Australia is the owner and organiser of the Australian Targa Championship, a series that incorporates Australia's three major tarmac rallies - Targa High Country, Targa Wrest Point and Targa Tasmania.
Targa High Country was held at Mt Buller on the weekend of November 5 to 7, 2010, attracting a field of 250 cars.
Targa Wrest Point, based out of Hobart, will be held on January 29 and 30, 2011.
Targa Tasmania, Australia's ultimate tarmac rally, will be held for the 20th time in 2011, from April 5 to 10.
Octagon also runs the Australasian Safari, the country's ultimate off-road adventure. The event will be held in Western Australia from September 23 to 30.
A new Octagon event in Tasmania is the Longford Revival Festival, which will be held for the first time from April 1 to 3, 2011.
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