TYRE WEAR TOP ISSUE FOR TARGA MANUFACTURER ENTRIES Three of Australia's top car manufacturers entered in this year's Targa Tasmania today agreed that the wear and conservation of their tyres will be their team's greatest challenge during the...
TYRE WEAR TOP ISSUE FOR TARGA MANUFACTURER ENTRIES
Three of Australia's top car manufacturers entered in this year's Targa Tasmania today agreed that the wear and conservation of their tyres will be their team's greatest challenge during the five day-long event which starts this Tuesday from Launceston's Country Club.
Nine competition vehicles put on a spectacular performance during Targa Tasmania's pre-event media shakedown held today at the 2.41km long Symmons Plains race circuit in Tasmania's North.
Among the cars were one of the three Targa-bound JPW-prepared MINIs, Subaru Australia's WRX and Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Evolution IX, with drivers using the shakedown as an opportunity to settle into Tasmania's welcoming weather and catch the unavoidable Targa fever.
Subaru factory driver and 2005 Australian Rally Championship runner-up driver Dean Herridge, who is used to leaving his vehicle requirements in the hands of his crew is preparing himself for five-days of the unknown, acknowledging his lack of experience with long tarmac rallies - with Targa Tasmania being his third on-tarmac event all-told.
"The big thing for us here in our first year is tyre wear and conservation," said Herridge whose navigator is Bill Hayes. "The guys say that the rally gets won on the Saturday and Sunday, so you can't just drive slowly for the first three days, but you've got to play a tactical game to make sure that your car is in the right part of the field, while looking after everything so that you can make an attack towards the end and be in a good position to get a podium."
"Targa is five days, so you've got to make sure the car is in good shape," Herridge added. "There is a lot of driving around with one set of tyres, one element which makes Targa Tasmania the event it is."
Team Ralliart driver Warwick Rooklyn who will contest this year's event with navigator Linda Long, says an incredible amount of behind the scenes work will ensure that the treads on his 2005 Evo IX make the distance.
A former Targa Tasmania privateer, Rooklyn who is no stranger to the 2100km long rally admits that accurate tyre wear will be the secret to his competitiveness, but is confident the Ralliart crew will deliver a successful conservation plan.
"Having factory resources and the crew behind us at every turn and twist allows us to concentrate solely on driving," explained Rooklyn. "We did some testing last week in Melbourne which allowed us to iron out all the creases before we arrived in Tasmania - the handling on this car today was excellent."
"Tyre wear is always an issue, luckily for us the Evo does not restrict us to particular brands. The rest this year, I am happy to say, I will leave up to the crew."
Team Manager for MINI Australia's three-car entry, David Vervaart was happy for factory Holden V8 Supercar driver Tim Leahey to clock some at-speed miles behind the wheel of the MINI, which currently remains unfamiliar territory to the experience circuit driver. "Tim's car now has 259km on the clock," said Vervaart. "Obviously it's not an ideal amount of time but reality is we want on-lookers to view the MINI as a turn-key rally car."
"We are racing three brand-new MINIs all with brand new specs, under brand new tarmac rally regulations. Targa Tasmania is basically a six day test session for MINI."
Also involved with the rides were Tasmania's Greg Garwood (Porsche 911 Turbo), David Forrest (Mitsubishi GTO), David Cooper (Torana A9X), David Ayers (Nissan Skyline) and Victoria's Max Warwick (Porsche GT3).
Targa Tasmania's Official Charity for 2006, The Cancer Council Tasmania, also used the media shakedown as an avenue to launch their major fundraising event - Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, which is held on May 25.
The 15th Anniversary Targa Tasmania kicks-off from Launceston's Country Club this Tuesday April 25. From there an expected 250 vehicles will make their way to George Town to contest the short 4.22km Temco Prologue, which will decide the starting order for day one of competition on Wednesday April 26.