Jim Richards says new Targa Tasmania tyre penalty will hurt Porsches. MONDAY, APRIL 15: Multiple Targa Tasmania champion Jim Richards believes Porsche's lengthy domination of the tarmac rally is under threat from new tyre penalties imposed for...
Jim Richards says new Targa Tasmania tyre penalty will hurt Porsches.
MONDAY, APRIL 15: Multiple Targa Tasmania champion Jim Richards believes Porsche's lengthy domination of the tarmac rally is under threat from new tyre penalties imposed for the 2002 event starting tomorrow.
Richards goes into the 11th annual rally with a record five wins to his credit, all in Porsches, and will drive a 911 four-wheel-drive turbo model in this year's event over 1,977km.
The 54-year-old said today a decision by race organisers to double the penalty to 2-mins for each tyre change, plus the banning of lightweight panels, would favour his rivals, especially the rally-bred all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII entries spearheaded by Tasmanians Jason White and John White.
Richards, a six-times Bathurst winner, said that while his 460-horsepower Porsche had an engine performance advantage over the Mitsubishis, it was approximately 80kg heavier and would suffer greater tyre wear.
"We've been able to get away with changing a tyre or two in recent years, but now they've doubled the time penalty it's going to be much harder for us to win," he said.
"Our car is also another 20kg heaver than before because we have to run standard panels and windows, and obviously when you have to carry more weight it's harder on tyres."
"The logical thing for us to do is slow down and conserve tyres, but that's a worry because it gives the Mitsubishi and others the chance to close the gap."
Jason White, who held third place for much of the 2001 event before finishing ninth with his uncle in a Nissan 300ZX, said the tyre penalty could provide a decisive advantage for the 1,400kg Mitsubishis, eligible to compete in Targa for the first time this year.
"Once we heard these cars were allowed in Targa we decided it was the best way to go," said the three-times Australian karting champion from Ulverstone.
"We'll be disappointed if we can't finish in the top three, and hopefully we can do better, especially if Jim (Richards) has to start throwing tyres at the Porsche. One big thing in our favour is we can rotate our tyres."
Apart from Richards, other front-running Porsche 911 drivers affected by the tyre penalty rule include Queensland's Tony Quinn, runner-up in 2001, and Sydney's Ray Lintott, who has three top-three podium finishes in Targa
This year's event has attracted official manufacturer teams from Holden, Mazda, Lexus, Volkswagen, Ford, and Hyundai.
Holden has entered two Holden Monaros, raced by nine-times Bathurst winner Peter Brock and V8 Supercar driver Steven Richards, Rick Bates will drive a Mazda RX-7 SP, and three-times Australian rally champion Neal Bates and former Targa champion Neal Bates is in a Lexus IS200. Hyundai's V6 Tiburon coupe, launced in Australia this month, will make its world motorsport debut in the event.
There are more than 280 entries in the 2002 Targa, split in four competitions -- Shannons Historic, Shannons Touring Classic, Classic, and Modern.
The official start is at Launceston's Country Club Resort, followed by the Temco Prologue in George Town. There are a total of 43 stages, with the longest, Mount Arrowsmith, over 47.78km on the final day before the event concludes in Hobart.
The Targa rally 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.