TARMAC: Targa Tasmania day four Classic summary

All fine for potential Porsche win in Classic The weather holds the key to the outcome of the 2007 Shannons Classic Competition category in Targa Tasmania as the remaining cars prepare to tackle their fifth and final Leg from Burnie to...

All fine for potential Porsche win in Classic

The weather holds the key to the outcome of the 2007 Shannons Classic Competition category in Targa Tasmania as the remaining cars prepare to tackle their fifth and final Leg from Burnie to Hobart tomorrow (Sunday). And the sun looks like shining on Victorians Rex Broadbent and Michael Goedheer.

Driving the same 1974 Porsche Carrera RSR replica in which they won the 2002 Shannons Classic, they are on hard Dunlop tyres ideally suited to the predicted fine and dry conditions expected on Tasmania's West Coast tomorrow for the remaining seven special stages totalling 137km.

In contrast their key rivals, the second-placed NSW Porsche crew of Bill Pye and Grant Geelan who are currently 69 seconds behind, are running much softer Kuhmo tyres on their 1977 911 Carrera 3.0 and freely admitted in Burnie that they are unlikely to be able to challenge the Victorians.

It's a bitter admission, as they have led the event on the final day for the past three years only to see the elements, human error and a simple mechanical failure respectively, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

"If it had been raining, as it usually does on the West Coast at this time of year, we would have given Rex a bit of fun," said Pye ruefully. "But if it's dry, we've got no chance of outright victory. But we're still comfortably leading the Classic Handicap, which is what we built this car for, and so it's really not all of that much concern to us."

Currently running second to them in the Classic Handicap are Victorian husband and wife Paul and Christine Freestone in their 1958 Austin Healey 3000, while Broadbent/Goedheer are third.

However the NSW Porsche crew's potential misfortunate is good news for Australian Muscle Car fans, as either one of two potent classic Holdens stand poised to pounce onto the podium.

Melbourne's Steve Coad and Perth's Simon Vandenberg in their 1972 Holden Monaro GTS currently sit in third place only 91 seconds behind Pye/Geelan, while Tasmania's Peter O'Keefe and Julie have closed to within less 48 seconds of the Monaro in their 1977 Holden SL/R 5000.

Both Holdens in turn are being hunted down by a trio of Porsches --Tierney/Carra (1974 911 RSR) and Morton/McDonald (1988 944 Turbo Cup) and Eames/Eames (1977 Carrera 3.0) in fifth to seventh places, setting up an exciting and unpredictable finish.

Typically, the North-West Challenge (Day 4 of Targa lived up to its name, with many crews succumbing to mechanical problems or having off-road incidents as the rally passed its half way mark at lunchtime today and entered the gruelling 37.75km Cethana special stage.

Out of action included three of the leading Shannons Classic contenders -- the previously fifth-placed Torana A9X crew of Kim Barwick and Paul Walker, the former sixth-placed V8 Giocattolo of NSW's Adam and David Kaplan with engine problems and top-10 runners David Cooper and Zara White of Tasmania in their 1977 Holden A9X.

Actor Eric Bana became another high-profile Cethana casualty when he left the road 25.7km into the stage while running in 53rd place in the Classic Competition and hit a bank, damaging the front right hand mudguard of his 1974 Ford XB Coupe.

Both he and navigator Tony Ramunno were unhurt and their service crew is hoping to repair his 600HP Falcon in Burnie overnight so that he can complete the event.

While a number of competitors dropped out of the event on Leg 4, some also came back after effecting mechanical repairs.

The previously third-placed Porsche 944 S2 of Ballarat's Gavin James and Neil McLeod rejoined the rally at the Mole Creek lunchbreak after its clutch was replaced overnight.

Also back in the event was the 1961 Volvo PV544 of Sydney's Mike Batten and John Doble after their off-course excursion on Day 3, while the Barossa Valley's Tim Lynas and Alan Letcher returned to Leg 4 after replacing the fuel pump, gearbox, differential and clutch of their 1965 Ford Mustang GT350.

Top 5 -- Shannons Classic competition -- end day 4 of 5
1, Rex Broadbent
2, Bill Pye, +1 min 09 secs
3, Steve Coad, +2 min 40 secs
4, Peter O'Keefe, +3 min 28 secs
5, Gary Tierney, +4 min 13 secs

-credit: octagon

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