The New South Wales crew of Adam and David Kaplan in their 1988 Giocattolo Group B coupe group this afternoon sent a shiver through the ranks of Targa Tasmania Shannons Classic competitors by stealing fastest time in the TEMCO Prologue in George Town.
The 210kW mid-engined V8 Australian-built Giocattolo (which means 'toy' in Italian) upstaged its much more favoured Australian muscle car and Porsche rivals to set a time of 3min.21.21sec over the 4.82km course -- the 11th fastest time of the day including all drivetravel.com Modern competitors.
A crowd-pleasing performance by flamboyant Victorians Steve and Rachael Coad in their 400kW Holden Monaro GTS was not enough to overcome the Giocattolo's agility on the tight suburban street course and they had to settle for second fastest in Classic on 3min.21.84sec.
Disappointed with their third fastest time were Victorians Gavin James and Neil McLeod in their 1989 Porsche 944 S2, who posted 3min.24.38sec. Their ABS brake warning light came on after just two corners and unsure of their braking performance James erred on the side of caution. "Otherwise we could possibly have gone a couple of seconds faster," he said. "It seems like it's a faulty sensor."
Until their re-classification, James has previously been one of the quiet achievers of the Targa Modern competition, always finishing in the top 20 in his 185kW four cylinder naturally-aspirated Porsche against considerably faster and more powerful cars including eight-time winner Jim Richards.
His best Modern finishing place was 13th outright in 2005 and he and McLeod are very much the dark horses for a podium position in the Shannons Classic.
Despite their sensor glitch, they were still faster than Tasmanians Kim Barwick and Paul walker, who followed them home with a time of 3min.25.00sec in their potent 1977 Torana A9X.
Perhaps conserving their tyres and playing a waiting game were pre-event Classic favourites, Rex Broadbent/Michael Goedheer and Bill Pye/Grant Geelan in Porsche 911s and Hobart's Peter O'Keefe/Julie Winton-Monet in their thundering 1977 Torana SL/R 5000 with times of 3min.25.30sec, 3min.25.48sec. and 3min.25.94sec, respectively, indicating that the contest among them in the rally proper will be enthralling.
However it was the 57th fastest crew of actor Eric Bana/Tony Ramunno in Bana's spectacular bright red, 420kW 1974 Ford XB Coupe that drew the most attention, although they were caught and passed near the end of the stage by the Coads, who started 30 seconds behind them.
"Just dialling ourselves and the car in," said Bana, who was kept busy before and after his run being photographed with babies and signing programmes and even prams. "The rally starts tomorrow doesn't it?"