15TH ANNIVERSARY TARGA RALLY PROLOGUE DAY
Sunday was a busy morning forDocumentation, Scrutineering and Briefings for Drivers, Co-Drivers and Service Crew at the Telstra Clear Events Centre in Manukau City.
In fact it was a busy place as part of the cities Full Throttle Weekend where there were other car gymkhanas on seal and on grass. Car Club displays all over the place as well as the off-road fraternity showing the skills in a particular muddy gully.
The first Dunlop Targa Rally cars left at 1.30pm to run what is known as the Prologue Stage. It's a shakedown stage for the 20 cars in the Targa Tour and the 87 cars that will be racing against the clock.
Heading the field before the final safety cars was Neil Tolich in his 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Neil is a regular Targa participant and took over the reins of driving the Targa guests when Chris Amon pulled out last week with a minor health issue.
For 15 years Targa has had the support of Cities, Councils and District Councils and this was an opportunity to show them what Targa is about first hand.
Neil's first guest to tour a stage was the Minister of Police and Member for Papakura, the Rt Hon Judith Collins. The Minister is something of a car 'buff' and owns a 1979 Porsche 911SC as well as a 1974 MGB. The Prologue stage was the Ardmore Quarry Road which Neil is familiar with. The Minister opted to read the instructions from the route book for Neil and according to Neil, "Never missed a beat."
"I loved it - just fabulous" the Minister exclaimed. When interviewed for television she said it was great to see cars racing under such strictly controlled conditions and said she would be back.
Thanks to the support of the Papakura District Council the Prologue was changed to Ardmore Quarry Road when the original plans to use Hampton Downs Motorsport Park looked 'shakey'. Hampton Downs will be used as Special Stage 3.
This is the only time the Top 30 on the Prologue can be mixed as Modern and Classic but you can see just how competitive the Classic Class really is. 11 of them in the Top 30 and 2 in the Top 10.
* The Targa cars started returning at 2.55pm and after a hand-wash were parked in Parc Ferme for the night -inside the Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre.
* Clark Proctor (aka The Metalman) in the Turbo 6 MK1 Ford Escort, did not participate in the Prologue.
* Dr Nick Cooper had a detour when he didn't listen to his instruction to go straight up Redoubt Road and turned right and joined the Southern Motorway.
* Mike Sexton and Ricky Cooper in Mike's potent BMW EVO never made it out of the Prologue. A mysterious electrical failure disabling the car. Hopefully they can solve the problem before 8.35am in the morning.
* No panel damage on the tight and twisty Armore Quarry Road Prologue .
* Both the Hopper Subaru Imprezas never came into Parc Ferme - both cars were mobile and had sought dispensation to leave the area. Leigh's car, sporting Pauanui Waterways graphics looks particularly smart.
* The Butler's Holden Cheetah has gone from bright green to a modern light blue.
* Bob Boniface and Simon Butler have left the EVO engine Ford Sierra Cosworth at home and now in a Subaru STI Spec C. Bob said "I miss the power, it's slow on the straights but much easier to drive." Simon says "it has a heater and doesn't leak !"
* Day 1 (today Monday26th October - Labour Day) and the first car leaves at 8.35am
* 7 Special Stages totalling 101km - with 313km of touring.
* 12.00 noon lunch break at Te Awamutu
* 5.50pm first car finishes at Taupo - Car Show & Shine at Taupo Town Centre - cars parked in Tuwharetoa Street.