DOOHAN'S 'MERC' RESURRECTED FOR TARGA TASMANIA '06 The factory prepared Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG severely written off by Australian motorcycle legend Mick Doohan at Targa Tasmania five years ago, is finally on the road to repair and will be...
DOOHAN'S 'MERC' RESURRECTED FOR TARGA TASMANIA '06
The factory prepared Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG severely written off by Australian motorcycle legend Mick Doohan at Targa Tasmania five years ago, is finally on the road to repair and will be making its return to the annual tarmac rally in 2006 with the car's new owner at the helm.
The proud new owner, Victorian-based and Mercedes-mad, Neill Ford has set himself the unbelievable challenge of restoring the battered and bent Mercedes to its original pristine condition in time for next year's 15th anniversary Targa Tasmania from April 25 - 30.
Knowing only that the car was sold to a Mercedes dealer in New South Wales following the 2001 Targa Tasmania, Ford finally located the badly damaged car in a dealer's garage in Sydney's Rushcutters Bay. Ford, the Managing Director of Yellow Cabs Queensland, purchased the recovered wreck which is now awaiting reassembly courtesy of a CLK body shell imported from California.
"I love cars with a passion; I try to acquire cars that have personality and style matched with muscle," said Ford, who recently finished 16th outright in the former East Coast Targa in a CL 55 AMG.
In what was their Targa Tasmania debut this year, Ford and his navigator Philip Woodbridge participated in the event's non-competitive Thoroughbred Sports category in a 2000 Mustang S351 Saleen. In 2006, the duo will be contesting the extremely competitive drivetravel.com Modern category with Doohan's former ride as their weapon of choice.
"The CLK 55 is a similar car to the CL 55, although slightly heavier. I also think the experience of the Saleen in Targa Tasmania 2005 will help, and luck will play a big part," said Ford. "The Thoroughbred Sport was a great initiation to Targa Tasmania and we are now ready to compete with a greater knowledge of the protocol required."
Doohan crashed the factory entered Mercedes in the 10th anniversary Targa Tasmania in 2001 during the 38.05km Cethana stage on day three while in 13th position. Doohan and his champion co-driver Mark Stacey walked away from the incident unharmed.
Doohan's car for the 2001 event was inspired by the official CLK 55 AMG safety car used at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in the late 90s. In keeping with Targa Tasmania technical regulations, engine modifications for the April event will be minimal, so restoring the car's body to its former glory will be the greatest challenge of all.
Next year's 15th anniversary Targa Tasmania kicks-off from the northern city of Launceston on April 25. The event includes five competitive days, plus the Temco George Town Prologue covering approximately 2,000km.