A group of thundering Australian V8 Muscle cars, from former Bathurst specials to a home-gown supercar, is relentlessly rising to the top of the Shannons Classic Competition as this year's Targa Tasmania nears its half way point in Hobart, piling pressure on the previously dominant Porsches.
Six thundering V8-engined cars now occupy six of the top 10 Outright places in Classic at the end of Leg 3. And with predominantly dry weather and longer stages ahead over the final two days, they chance of a V8 victory is getting stronger.
First foreign scalp of the day to the local cars came when the previously third-placed 1989 Porsche 944 S2 of Ballarat's Gavin James and Malcolm McLeod stopped on the Howden stage on Leg 3 with major transmission problems.
This promoted the potent orange 1972 Monaro GTS of Victoria's Steve Coad and Tasmania's Simon Vandenberg to third outright, just 56 seconds behind the leading Porsches of Rex Broadbent/Michael Goedheer (1974 911 RSR) and Bill Pye/Grant Geelan, who in turn are separated by just 27 seconds -- six less than at the end of Leg 2.
Behind Coad/Vandenberg, Hobart's spectacular Peter O'Keefe and navigator Julie Morton-Monet in their 1977 Torana SL/R 5000 and fellow Tasmanians Kim Barwick and Paul Walker in their Torana A9X are squabbling over positions four and five.
O'Keefe was the hero of Thursday night's new night stage at the Derwent Entertainment Centre, when he turned on a tyre-smoking display for the huge crowd estimated at more than 15,000 people. However it was back to business on Leg 3 down the Huon and he has his sights set on overhauling Coad and closing on the leading Porsches over the next two days.
Next are Adam and David Kaplan from New South Wales in their 1988 mid-engined V8 Giocattolo Group B, while Tasmania's David Cooper and Zara White in their Torana A9X are in provisional 10th place, sandwiching the Porsches 911s of Victorians Garry Tierney/David Carra, Peter and Rebecca Eames and the resurgent 944 Turbo Cup of David Morton and Malcolm McDonald.
Moving steadily forward near the middle of the 115-car Shannons Classic field are actor Eric Bana and Tony Ramunno in their 1974 Ford XB coupe, rising from 58th to 56th Outright and from 84th to 76th on handicap by the end of Leg 3.
Pye/Geelan still lead the Shannons Classic Handicap Competition, however Victorians Paul and Christine Freestone have moved into second place, just 1min. 25sec. off the lead after a storming run over the final Leg 3 stages, while Broadbent/Goedheer are third on Handicap after running for the first three stages of the day with their in-car communication system out of action.
Out of the picture is the previously second-placed 1961 Volvo PV544 of Sydney's Mike Batten and John Doble, which failed to finish Leg 3.
Top three -- Shannons Classic after day 3 of 5
1 Rex Broadbent (VIC)/Michael Goedheer (VIC), 1974 Porsche 911 RS
2. Bill Pye (NSW)/Grant Geelan (NSW), 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3, + 27 seconds
3. Steve Coad (VIC)/Simon Vandenberg (TAS), 1972 Holden Monaro GTS +1 min 23 secs
-credit: targa tasmania