Preview: Vintage, Early Classic, Classic
Every vehicle category in Targa Tasmania 2009 is expected to produce close-fought action, with the winners not expected to be decided until the event reaches its climax in Hobart on May 3.
Competition among those with Classic cars (1972-1990) looks very much like being a Porsche benefit, with all the expected pace setters lining up in various versions of the German favourite.
John Ireland and co-driver Michael Ribot, and Rex Broadbent and Michael Goedheer finished second and third in Porsche 911 Carreras last year, and could again repeat, or better, those results in 2009.
However, they'll be in for a tough fight. Bill Pye and Grant Geelan led the category comfortably in Targa Wrest Point in February before they crashed their 1974 Porsche RS, so they will be out to set the record straight and prove that they have the stuff to take the win.
Likewise, the Porsches of Gary Tierney and David Carra, Glyn Crimp and Paul Dowie, and Gavin James with Neil McLeod, all look like being in with a shot. The three teams did well in Targa Wrest Point, and will be looking towards the longer, six-day Targa to improve on their results.
In the Early Classic Competition for cars produced between 1946-1971, the top four placegetters from the 2008 event will all be back to do battle, and at least three of those crews will be hoping for a different outcome.
Jon Siddins and Darren Ferguson took victory in their 1970 Datsun 240Z last year, but the quirky 1961 Volvo PV544 of Paul and Mike Batten looked to have victory sewn up before mechanical problems near the end of the event relegated them to second.
The son and father pairing are intent on revenge this year, but Siddins will surely have other ideas. As last year's fourth placegetters, Robin and Peter Lowe, in another Datsun 240Z.
One of the reasons that the Early Classic class is so popular is the diverse range of vehicles that it attracts. Mini Coopers, Ford Mustangs, MGs, Austin Healeys and Porsches are just some of the cars that make up the list of over 40 classics entered this year, guaranteeing plenty of action.
The Vintage Rallye, for cars manufactured up to 1946, has only attracted a small field, but as usual spectator interest in these magnificent vehicles will be high.
Graham Copeland's recently finished 1938 Dodge Speedster is one year newer than Professor Michael Clark's Riley 12/4 Brooklands Special, but the darkhorse could be last year's third placegetter, Bill Griffiths in a 1936 Roesch Talbot BG 110.
Speed is not the key with these cars. It's the beauty of the journey, reliving a day gone by. And they'll all be hoping for fine, dry weather!