Sullens tops as early leaders crash out
A dramatic day two of Targa Tasmania saw the leaders board thrown wide open after the early pacesetters, Allan Simonsen and Jason White, crashed out of the event on the Weldborough Pass stage just before lunch.
The day ended with a leaders' board that looked highly familiar, featuring 2004 Targa champion Tony Sullens, in his 1999 Subaru Impreza WRX RA, six seconds clear of the eight-time title holder, Jim Richards' 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Tony Longhurst, also in an Impreza WRX, was third a further 21 seconds back.
The Shannons Classic competition witnessed less drama, but still provided plenty of fascination as overnight leader, Bill Pye, driving a 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3, was overtaken by pre-event favourite, Rex Broadbent in a 1974 Porsche 911 RS.
Broadbent ended the day 35 seconds clear of his rival with the 1989 Porsche 944 S2 of Gavin James in third place, another 13 seconds back.
While the stage at Glenorchy remains to be run tonight, it will not change the end of day results.
Simonsen and White were involved in a fierce battle at the front of the field across the morning's first three stages, and going into stage 14 the Dane, who started with a 10 second buffer, led by 11 seconds.
But 8.4 kilometres into stage 14, Simonsen's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 crashed into the bank, significantly damaging the right-hand side of the car and forcing the Dane out of his Targa debut and leaving him bitterly disappointed.
"We're very sorry for the team and all our backers," Simonsen said.
"It just happened so fast. We felt in control, not pushing too hard and then all of a sudden we were in trouble and hit the bank."
"It's all just about learning the art of tarmac rallying."
White lasted another three kilometres on that stage before he exited the road as well.
On a corner that the driver said "was easy enough to see" the ABS brake system on the Lamborghini Super Leggera locked up at the front, sending their back wheels into a ditch.
The Whites immediately withdrew from the event.
"We have dropped too much time to continue," White said. "We are at a loss as to why it has happened."
Meanwhile, Sullens and Richards continued without drama, clocking consistently fast times across the remaining three stages after lunch.
"I was planning to push pretty hard today to see if we could make the others make a mistake and that's probably what happened a bit," Sullens said.
"I'm just happy to match it with the big boys in the dry. Everyone thinks we are a wet weather team, but the car is obviously just as quick in the dry, which is what I am aiming for."
Richards was also content with his progress.
"It's a shame about Jason an Alan, but we'll take our luck any way it happens moving up the order."
"Our day's been good, we're not as quick as they were, but we're still in the event."
Classic leader Broadbent is hoping that the fine weather experienced today continues across the final three days.
"We've been lucky today, the weather's been dry. Our tyre choice is for dry weather and, to tell you the truth, we could get in trouble if it does get wet."
The Rookie Rallye finishes tonight, with Ross Dunkerton almost certain to take Modern honours and Darren Brent is set to be the first of the Classics home.
Day three of the five day Targa Tasmania, presented by Pure Tasmania. takes competitors south of Hobart with a further eight stages, before another overnight stop in the State's capital.
Scores -- Top Ten drivetravel.com Modern after Stage 17
1. T Sullens/J Barkley, Subaru Impreza WRX RA
2. J.Richards/B.Oliver, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, + 06 secs
3. T. Longhurst/M De Vere, Subaru Impreza WRX STI C spec, +27 s
4. K.Weeks/J.Allen, Lamborghini Super Leggera, +47 secs
5. T. Quinn/KWenn, Porsche 997 Turbo, +1min 05secs
6. M Warwick/C.Murphy, Porsche 911 GT3, + 1:16
7. M. Close/C.Close, Porsche 911 Turbo, + 1:32
8. M.Heskin/N.Deniese, Mitsubishi Evolution Lancer IX RS, +1:51
9. M.Higgins/P.Hansen, Mitsubishi Evolution Lancer IX RS, + 2:10
10. S.Froude/W.Logan, Porsche 911 GT3 CS, + 2:21