Jim Richards comments on upcoming Targa Tasmania

Jim Richards says tyre wear decisive in bid for 7th Targa Tasmania. TUESDAY, APRIL 29: Targa Tasmania's most successful driver, Jim Richards, believes tyre wear will pose the biggest threat to his all-conquering Porsche 911 turbo in next month's...

Jim Richards says tyre wear decisive in bid for 7th Targa Tasmania.

TUESDAY, APRIL 29: Targa Tasmania's most successful driver, Jim Richards, believes tyre wear will pose the biggest threat to his all-conquering Porsche 911 turbo in next month's tarmac rally.

Assessing the frontline opposition for the May 13-18 rally, the six-times Targa champion said Tasmania's Jason White and South Australian Steve Glenney would both have a tyre advantage over his Porsche because their Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec machines could rotate all four wheels.

"The Porsche and the Skyline are quite similar in power and weight, and both are four-wheel-drive, but the Nissan has four wheels the same size which can be moved all around the car to look after tyres," said Richards.

"We don't have as many options because the Porsche runs 8-inch wheels on the front and 11-inch on the back, so on paper it's a disadvantage for us with tyre life."

"I think the tyre situation is going to be crucial because if you have to change a wheel it's an automatic 2-minute penalty and that can be the difference between winning and losing."

Richards and Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver will compete in the same Porsche that took them to victory the past two years in Targa, which is promoted by global sports and events marketing company Octagon. The car generates approximately 490-horsepower and weighs 1,480kg.

White, who finished third in Targa in 2002 in a Mitsubishi Evo VII, said the Skyline he will race this year produced about 420-horsepower and weighed 1,550kg.

He said while all four wheels could be rotated on the Skyline, he felt Richards' Porsche had other advantages, based on observations and assessments during this year's Rally Tasmania event in February.

"We had a close look at Jim's car (in Rally Tasmania) and it seemed to have better throttle response, especially at Hellyer Gorge, which is also part of Targa," said White.

Richards said that variable weather conditions were another challenge in the 44-stage event, contested over a total distance of 2,299km, with 464km competitive, plus the Temco Prologue.

"You go into Targa expecting a bit of rain somewhere, and that's fair enough because this event is all about keeping on top of the conditions and adapting to whatever comes along," he said.

"Even though I've won Targa a few times it's never easy, and that's the challenge that makes you keep coming back."

"It's the type of race where everything can change quickly -- last year, for instance, we hit a pot-hole and had to change a wheel. It opened the door, but then some of the drivers behind me had their own problems and we managed to come out on top."

Richards, whose 2002 results also included winning the Bathurst 1000 for the seventh time, sharing a Holden Racing Team Commodore with Mark Skaife, said he was enjoying driving as much as ever and had no thoughts of retirement.

"I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing, and so long as I keeping feeling that way and I'm still competitive then I'll keep going," he said.

Entries in Targa have increased to 267, including a three-car Holden Motorsport team comprising multiple Bathurst 1000 winners Peter Brock and Steven Richards in Monaros, and V8 Supercar driver Cameron McConville in a turbo Astra SRi. The Porsche challenge also includes Queensland's Tony Quinn, runner-up in 2001, and Tasmanian Greg Garwood, fifth in 2002.

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.

Targa Tasmania is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania and is owned and produced by Octagon.

Octagon is the global marketing-led sports and event marketing company. It offers worldwide expertise across all eight major sports and event marketing disciplines: athlete representation, consultancy, event management, property representation and sales, TV rights sales and distribution, TV production and archive, new media and licensing and merchandising.

Octagon is part of The Interpublic Group (NYSE:IPG), the world's largest advertising and marketing communications group. The Interpublic Group is the only marketing communications and services group with a global sports marketing capability. Octagon employs over 1,500 people in 24 countries on all major continents. For further information please visit: www.octagon.com

-www.targa.org.au

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Jason White , Cameron McConville , Jim Richards , Peter Brock , Tony Quinn , Steven Richards
Teams Holden Racing Team