Peter Brock to drive V8 Holden Ute in Targa Tasmania

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22: Touring car legend Peter Brock will race a high-performance V8 Holden Ute as part of the star-studded field in the 2001 Targa Tasmania tarmac rally from April 18-24. Brock, who won a record nine Bathurst 1000 races for ...

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22: Touring car legend Peter Brock will race a high-performance V8 Holden Ute as part of the star-studded field in the 2001 Targa Tasmania tarmac rally from April 18-24.

Brock, who won a record nine Bathurst 1000 races for Holden up to his touring car retirement in 1997, announced today he would drive in Targa with 24-year-old son James Brock as navigator.

They will contest the 54-stage event against entries including five-times 500cc motorcycle world champion Michael Doohan, who will make his car racing debut in a Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG, multiple Bathurst 1000 and Australian Touring Car Championship winner Jim Richards in a turbo Porsche 911, and triple Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates in a works-assisted Lexus IS200.

"It's a hot field, but we have a seriously fast vehicle that is sensational to drive and does everything it needs to do to for us to be competitive," said Brock.

The 1,600kg rear-drive VU SS Ute is powered by a 5.7-litre V8 engine producing more than 225-kW, and features a six-speed gearbox, ABS brakes, McPherson strut front suspension, and independent rear suspension.

"These Utes are fast as they come, and we'll modify the exhaust, put a set of Bridgestone tyres on it, and tinker with the springs and shocks since we won't be carrying the loads it was designed for," said Brock.

The Brocks previously contested Targa two years ago in a 1973 Holden Torana XU-1, but crashed out on the final day.

"That was a 'toe in the water' exercise with no prior knowledge of the roads and conditions, but this time it's much more of a serious effort with a new Holden and our preparation will be better," said Brock.

"We will have a greater understanding of reading road conditions based on the terrain. For example, if you're on the south side of a mountain range in mid-afternoon the sharp corners that dive into a valley can still be wet and slippery because they never see daylight, and it can catch you out."

"This type of local knowledge is crucial if you want to go at full belt and keep on the road."

"The whole event is a challenge because the roads aren't formed like highways – it's a throw-back to the old-style with roads following local topographical features."

Brock said his preparation would include travelling to Tasmania in early April and driving over the course, which comprises 2,200km, including 500km in competitive stages.

"We will have a look at the roads and make some notes relevant to the vehicle we're driving," he said.

James Brock, who built the V8 Holden Commodore he drove to third place in the 2000-2001 Future Tourers class in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship, will prepare the Ute for Targa and also oversee vehicle maintenance during the event.

"Being a navigator is something different to what I'm used to, and having proper pace notes for the entire course should make it better this year," he said.

"We had some pace notes the last time we did Targa, and they're definitely an advantage if used correctly."

The Targa event 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. Octagon Worldwide's other motorsport events in Australia for 2001 include the Grand Prix Rally in Victoria from February 24-28, and the Australian Safari international cross-country rally in the Northern Territory from August 19-26. Its overseas motorsport activities include ownership of the World Superbike Championship and Brands Hatch Leisure.

- Mike Porter

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Series Other rally
Drivers Jim Richards , Neal Bates , Peter Brock , James Brock