TUESDAY, MARCH 25: Touring car legend Peter Brock and dual Bathurst champion Steven Richards are about to make a second successive attack on the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally driving V8 Holden Monaros. They will compete in this year's rally from...
TUESDAY, MARCH 25: Touring car legend Peter Brock and dual Bathurst champion Steven Richards are about to make a second successive attack on the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally driving V8 Holden Monaros.
They will compete in this year's rally from May 13-18 in Motorola-sponsored upgraded versions of the 5.7-litre Monaros both raced in Targa in 2002, with the cars being modified to comply with the event's Modern Competition regulations.
Brock, who finished sixth in 2002, just 18-secs behind the third-placed Mitsubishi Evo XII raced by Tasmania's Jason White, said he hoped to be in a position to challenge for a top three podium finish this year.
The nine-times Bathurst 1000 champion said the 2003-specification Holden Motorsport Monaros would be about 100kg lighter than the cars he and Richards previously raced and would also feature engine modifications.
"These Monaros are fabulous cars, and performance-wise we've been able to take them up a notch, so given a good run I think we will be around the mark as far as the podium is concerned," said Brock.
"When I think back to last year we weren't that far off the podium, and that was after being held up by a slower car near the finish which was disappointing."
"Technically the Porsches still have more firepower than us, but I can't wait to get down to Tassie and have a 'red-hot' go -- those stages through Cethana and South Riana are just magic bits of road."
Brock's navigator this year will be Tasmanian Anne Gigney, who has competed in Targa three times, and Richards will be partnered by Victorian Gerry Bashford.
Modifications to this year's Monaros comprise installation of roll cages, headers exhaust, fine-tuning engine calibration, Harrop brakes, Eibach suspension, and engine freedoms including cylinder heads and roller-rockers, plus larger wheels. The dry weight of the vehicle is 1,643kg.
Richards, who finished 60th in his Targa debut in 2002 after losing 3-hrs penalty time after a crash on day three, said the changes to the Monaros would assist both Holden drivers this year.
"On the fast sections the Monaro is fantastic, but the weight slowed us down in some of the tighter stages last year so with the car now lighter that will be a plus," he said.
"The experience I gained in my first Targa (in 2002) is also going to help this time because I have a better concept of how the rally works, and what we're up against in terms of conditions and the other competitors."
Richards said he relished the challenge of taking a break from his V8 Supercar Championship commitments with the Castrol Perkins Holden Commodore team to compete in Targa.
"It keeps you stimulated doing something out of the realm of what you usually do, and being part of Targa last year just blew me away," he said.
"The big difference with Targa, compared to V8 Supercars, is taking in the information from the navigator while still trying to concentrate and drive competitively."
This year's rally will be the 12th annual Targa event in Tasmania since 1992, and is promoted by global sports and events marketing company Octagon. The 2003 Targa will be contested over a total distance of 2,299km, with 464km in 44 competitive stages, plus the Temco Prologue.
Entries have increased to 267, headed by six-times champion Jim Richards, father of Steven Richards, and Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver in a Porsche 911.
Both Holden teams are expected to travel to Tasmania in mid-April and undertake a reconnaissance drive over most of the course.
Brock believes Gigney's rallying experience and familiarity with the course will be an asset to his prospects.
"Anne is thoroughly committed to her role, which is what you need, and importantly she grew up in Tasmania and knows the roads," said Brock.
Gigney was raised in Hobart and her involvement in the sport began as a teenage official assisting her father Lyn Gigney, who is on the Australian Rally Commission. The 30-year-old, who now lives in Albury, started competing in the late 1980s as a navigator, and she has participated in 22 rounds of the Australian Rally Championship in various classes, in addition to three starts in Targa.
"The plan is to drive the course with Peter next month and then sit down together and go through the pace-notes we will use in the rally," said Gigney. "Essentially my job is to call the roads before we get there. This is a tremendous opportunity and it's very exciting being with Peter."
Bashford is a 48-year-old Detective Sergeant with Victoria Police's Organised Motor Vehicle Theft Squad. He began rallying in 1972 and won the Victorian Rally Championship in 1991-92. He was also first in the Production Class of the Australian Rally Championship Alpine Rally in 1991, and in the South Australian round the same year.
The four competitions in Targa are Historic (for cars from 1900-46), Touring Classic (1947-65), Classic (1900-81), and Modern (1982-2003). There is also a new non-competition touring class for rare and exotic historic and classic cars.
Octagon is the global marketing-led sports and event marketing company. It offers worldwide expertise across all eight major sports and event marketing disciplines: athlete representation, consultancy, event management, property representation and sales, TV rights sales and distribution, TV production and archive, new media and licensing and merchandising.
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