RICHARDS SET TO RECLAIM TARGA TASMANIA TITLE With competition kicking off tomorrow, defending champion Jim Richards is gearing up for a win at this year's Targa Tasmania rally, confident his 2WD Porsche GT3 will secure him a podium finish...
RICHARDS SET TO RECLAIM TARGA TASMANIA TITLE
With competition kicking off tomorrow, defending champion Jim Richards is gearing up for a win at this year's Targa Tasmania rally, confident his 2WD Porsche GT3 will secure him a podium finish despite unpredictable weather conditions.
Finishing second last year behind Subaru Driver Tony Sullens, the seven-time Bathurst champion gathered with four of the event's other high-profile drivers at an official media conference, held at Launceston's Country Club Resort today.
"Performance wise the GT3 is capable of winning; it will just depend on how fast our opposition will go," said Richards.
"I think we will perform pretty well. This car has less power than the car I had last year -- the GT3 is a more driveable car in all conditions as it is a bit lighter."
Despite the GT3's performance capabilities in the dry, the renowned wet-weather racing driver, who will be guided by his long-time Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver, says a variation in weather conditions will not impact his ability to finish at the head of the field.
"This car will be easier to drive in the wet, so we are confident that we can put on a show."
Fellow circuit racer Tony Longhurst joined Richards in anticipation of a battle for top spot in the drivetravel.com Modern Competition, although conscious of his ability to adapt well to tarmac rally-style driving.
"I think adapting is going to be more difficult than I thought. We've done some reconnaissance around Hobart and I was quite amazed at the challenge of the roads," said Longhurst.
"I'm much more excited about this than I have been about racing for a few years. I am going to go out and do my best."
Making his Targa Tasmania debut in a brand new Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Longhurst said that advice from ex-Targa Tasmania competitor and fellow-circuit racer Dick Johnson will help him conquer the five-day challenge that runs over some of the world's most arduous tarmac roads.
"I had a chat to Dick in New Zealand last week and he said the biggest thing is to make sure you drive within yourself and, if in doubt, go a little bit slower."
Joining Longhurst and Richards on the panel was Tasmanian hopeful Jason White who said that, in the face of unpredictable weather conditions, he will take his Targa Tasmania drive stage-by-by stage to ensure optimum performance from his Nissan Skyline GT-R.
"Obviously we are out there to try and win as much as we can," said White. "The Skyline is definitely the vehicle for the event, but as far as the driving conditions go, it is always a struggle to stay there with the rest of the guys."
All anticipating a hard-fought event, Richards, Longhurst and White were joined on the panel by dual Nations Cup champion Paul Stokell and pro-golfer Stuart Appleby, both of whom are entered in Lamborghini Gallardos.
A starting field of 255 entrants will leave Launceston tomorrow for the Temco George Town Prologue, where starting positions will be determined for the first day of competition on Wednesday 27th April.
Spectators will be able to catch tomorrow's Targa Tasmania action when the first car leaves the Country Club Resort at 9.15am.
Targa Tasmania is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania.