WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30: Touring car legend Peter Brock and dual Bathurst winner Steven Richards will make a two-car factory-backed V8 Holden Monaro assault on this year's Targa Tasmania tarmac rally. They will contest the rally from April 16-21...
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30: Touring car legend Peter Brock and dual Bathurst winner Steven Richards will make a two-car factory-backed V8 Holden Monaro assault on this year's Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
They will contest the rally from April 16-21 under the Holden Motorsport banner in new model 5.7-litre CV8 Monaros modified to comply with the event's Modern Competition regulations.
Brock, a nine-times Bathurst 1000 champion, raced a V8 Holden Ute in Targa in 2001, and he said the move up to a two-car team this year reflected the Australian manufacturer's desire to showcase the Monaro as a high-performance vehicle in a competitive environment.
"Going to Targa with two cars is a serious project for Holden and we want to give it a big shake," said Brock.
"It's a tough event, but the Monaro is a fabulous motor vehicle and Steven Richards is one of the best young drivers around so there's no reason why we can't do well."
"Our Monaros will be lighter and more powerful than the showroom versions, although they will still be more of a production-based car than some of the others we will be up against."
Modifications to the Monaros will include installing roll cages, Headers exhaust, fine-tuning engine calibration, newly-designed Harrop brakes, Momo seats, revised suspension, and they will be fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE540S tyres.
"The Harrop brakes are almost 3kg lighter than the road-going system, and there are numerous other 'tweaks' we'll be making so these Monaros are as competitive as they can possibly be," said Brock.
Richards, who won Bathurst in 1998 and again the following year, will take time off from his V8 Supercar commitments with the Castrol-Perkins Holden Commodore team to compete in Targa for the first time.
The 29-year-old said his most demanding challenge in preparing for the 1,968km Targa rally would be learning the pace-noting system for the 43 competitive stages, and forming an effective understanding with navigator Jenny Cole, from Victoria, who has made two previous starts in the event.
"I've been in the Grand Prix Rally a couple of times, and a few other smaller events, but nothing as hard and fast like Targa," said Richards.
"For me the hardest thing will be getting to know how to interpret and understand pace notes information when you're driving flat-out around a slippery, greasy corner."
Richards said he had discussed the pace noting situation with his father Jim Richards, who has won Targa a record five times in Porsches, and is among the entries for this year's race.
"We've spoken about it, but turning words into action is something else again," said Richards.
"Dad has always told me what a great event Targa is, so I'm looking forward to the whole deal and hopefully I can push on and make it to the finish."
Brock, who will race with son James as navigator, and Richards said they hoped to be able to travel to Tasmania before Targa to drive over the course.
"I've been in Targa twice now, but being realistic you've got to get down there and have a run over the course to give yourself every chance of getting a result," said Brock.
"People like Jim Richards know every stage backwards so we've got to prepare as well as we can," said Brock.
Brock said driving in Targa this year would be personally nostalgic because his first major touring car result was in a Holden Monaro when he finished third in the 1969 Bathurst 1000.
"Being behind the wheel of a Monaro again brings back many memories, and it's fantastic that Holden have brought the name back into the marketplace," he said.
Brock's preparation for Targa will also include driving a Monaro in the Grand Prix Rally in Victoria during February.
Targa Tasmania is promoted by global sports marketing company Octagon Worldwide, the sports marketing and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group, one of the world's largest advertising and marketing communications groups.
This year's Targa rally has already attracted more than 265 entries.