Targa Tasmania: Batten takes handicap honours

Twenty-seven year-old Paul Batten, has driven a 39 year-old car to Handicap honours at Targa Tasmania. Batten, with father Mike calling the notes, produced outstanding speed in his 1961 Volvo PV544 across the six days of competition to run out...

Twenty-seven year-old Paul Batten, has driven a 39 year-old car to Handicap honours at Targa Tasmania.

Batten, with father Mike calling the notes, produced outstanding speed in his 1961 Volvo PV544 across the six days of competition to run out an easy winner in the handicap event.

He finished 10 minutes 50 seconds ahead of Peter and Sari Ullrich, with John Ireland and Michael Ribot third 18 minutes 30 seconds off the pace.

Batten had the second fastest time of any Classic car in the field, only trailing the newer, more sophisticated 1974 Porsche 911 RS of Rex Broadbent, who took the Classic Outright honours.

Batten, who works for international motorsport outfit, Prodrive, has a fine record in gravel rallying, but is now making a name for himself on tarmac.

Clerk of Course, Stuart Benson, described Batten's effort as the drive of the rally.

"It is an underpowered car yet Paul has managed to get the maximum out of it," Benson said. "His driving skill is outstanding. He also brings a lot of expertise to the set-up of the car, with his suspension really aiding his performance."

The younger Batten was delighted with his victory.

"It's been a challenging five days and we've just kept our nose to the grindstone and just doing the best we can, and it's turned out quite a good result," an understated Batten said.

"The car is a lot quicker than people give it credit for and we've overtaken some fairly quick cars.

"The tyres have been very good in the wet as well, so we've just tried to keep the momentum going from one stage to the next.

"We're surprised with our times in the Classic Outright competition as there's a lot of fast cars there, and I think the wet weather may have suited us a little more, and there's been a few offs as well. Some of the big boys have fallen and we've been there to pick up the pieces."

Batten comes from good rallying stock, his father is a three-time New South Wales rally champion.

"Sometimes I wish I could turn down the speed control on Paul, but we have not had a moment in any of the Targas so far," Mike Batten said.

-source: targa tasmania

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Series Other rally