THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18: Targa Tasmania's most successful driver, Jim Richards, today announced he would enter the 2002 tarmac rally in the same Porsche 911 turbo which he drove to victory in this year's event. However, Richards said that his ...
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18: Targa Tasmania's most successful driver, Jim Richards, today announced he would enter the 2002 tarmac rally in the same Porsche 911 turbo which he drove to victory in this year's event.
However, Richards said that his four-wheel-drive Porsche for the 43-stage rally from April 17-21 would be 20kg heavier than in the 2001 rally because revised regulations prohibited the use of lightweight panels.
"This year we ran with a lightweight bonnet and windows which we can't use next year, and it will push the Porsche's weight up to about 1,480kg," said Richards.
"It will bring us back to the field a little, but I think making the cars as production-based as possible, apart from safety measures, is a good move because it keeps the costs down for everyone."
The 54-year-old Melbourne-based New Zealander also confirmed that his co-driver in his 450-horsepower Porsche next year would be Tasmanian Barry Oliver, continuing a partnership that has produced a record five wins since the event's inception in 1992.
Richards believes Targa will be more difficult to win in 2002 than previous years because of increasing manufacturer entries and the eligibility of production-specification four-wheel-drive Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo models.
"In the last couple of years the number of manufacturer teams has jumped from two to seven, so it's getting tougher with the levels of competition and car preparation being raised at the pointy end of the field," he said.
"The Subarus and Mitsubishis are rally-bred cars, and even in production trim they're going to be as quick as my Porsche if they get their top drivers and teams involved."
"I'm looking forward to the extra competition, and it's good for the event because it proves the manufacturers are now looking more and more at Targa as a way to show the capabilities of their cars."
Richards, whose career achievements also include six Bathurst 1000 wins and five Australian Touring Car Championship titles, said Targa was his favourite motorsport event.
"It's the greatest single event in the land for the motorsport enthusiast, whether you're a part-time competitor out there to have some fun, or a professional driver," he said.
"Every day there are something like eight to 10 races on different tracks and roads where you test yourself against the clock and the conditions. There's nothing else like it in Australia."
Targa General Manager Rob McGuire said a total of 220 entries had already been received in four competitions -- Shannons Historic (for cars from 1900-46), Shannons Touring Classic (1947-61), Classic (1947-81), and Modern (1982-2002).
McGuire said he was confident a record field would be assembled for next year's event, bettering the previous highest entry list of 300 in 2000.
Apart from Richards, another past outright winner entered is Port MacQuarie's Andrew Miedecke in a Dodge Viper, while 2001 runner-up Tony Quinn will also return in a Porsche 911 turbo.
Targa is owned and produced 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.
Octagon Worldwide's other motorsport events in Australia for 2001 included the Grand Prix Rally in Victoria in February, and the Australian Safari international cross-country rally in the Northern Territory during August. It's overseas motorsport activities include ownership of the World Superbike Championship and Brands Hatch Leisure.
TARGA TASMANIA NEWS BRIEFS
A total of 25 senior Targa Tasmania officials and organising committee members underwent Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) Grade 2 accreditation in Hobart last Saturday and Sunday (October 13-14). Targa Competitions Secretary Stuart Benson said the program covered matters such as legal issues, risk management, critical incidents, learning theory, leadership, communication, and teamwork. Compulsory accreditation of officials will be introduced over the coming four years.
John Large, who was inducted into the Targa Tasmania Hall of Fame this year, has been appointed to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Senate. He is the first person from the Southern Hemisphere and only the second non-European appointed to the Senate, which comprises the FIA President and seven members. Large was one of the founders of Targa and responsible for its initial growth.
The all-Tasmanian team of Philip Nichols and Phillip Blake, winners of the Shannons Touring Classic Competition in 2000 in a 1958 Austin Healey Sprite is splitting up for next year's Targa rally. Nichols will compete again in the Austin Healey, while Blake will switch from navigator to driver to race a 1955 Fiat 600.
The oldest vehicle among the 220 entries received for Targa 2002 is a 1925 Vauxhall 30-98, to be raced in the Shannons Historic Competition by Victorians Michael Hipkins and Mark Burns.