THURSDAY, JANUARY 10: Car manufacturer Ford announced today it would enter a factory-backed Falcon in Targa Tasmania for the second successive year and contest the 2002 tarmac rally from April 17-21. Ford Racing Australia's General Manager of ...
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10: Car manufacturer Ford announced today it would enter a factory-backed Falcon in Targa Tasmania for the second successive year and contest the 2002 tarmac rally from April 17-21.
Ford Racing Australia's General Manager of Motorsport, Howard Marsden, said a works-prepared Falcon XR6 driven by Steve Hoinville would compete in the 43-stage rally.
Hoinville, a Melbourne-based Ford Racing Australia engineer, finished 21st in the same six-cylinder Falcon in Targa in 2001, and his navigator in this year's 1,967km event will be Victorian Ruth Williams.
The Falcon is being prepared at Ford Racing's Melbourne headquarters under the guidance of John Gray, who has worked for V8 Supercar teams operated by Glenn Seton and Dick Johnson, and will be raced in Targa with limited modifications.
Marsden said that as in 2001, Ford's aim in Targa this year would be to finish the rally and promote the Falcon XR6 as a cost-effective recreational race car, rather than press for outright victory.
"We are deliberately running the car close to production-trim, apart from a few tweaks, because we want to showcase the Falcon as a reliable package for weekend club competitors and enthusiasts in events such as Targa," said Marsden.
"We were delighted with Steve's performance in Targa last year when he showed that Falcon owners can thoroughly enjoy their motorsport without necessarily spending large amounts of money."
Hoinville said modifications to the Falcon for Targa would be restricted to the chassis and brakes, partially for safety reasons, and the engine performance would be improved by 8kW up to 170kW.
The 31-year-old said his prospects in this year's rally would be enhanced by a more thorough pre-event testing and development program, compared to 2001.
"We had a good, clean run with the Falcon in Targa last year, but we only had one test session so it took us a couple of days to sort the car before we could get the most out of it performance-wise," said Hoinville.
"This year our preparation will be much better, and I'll be doing some club events and a hill climb or two before Targa so we are right on the pace from the start."
"Targa is a fantastic event and I enjoy the challenge of the longer stages like Mount Arrowsmith and Cethana where you can get into a good rhythm and press on. Pace noting was new to me last year so that's another area I should be better off this time around."
Hoinville made his Targa debut in 1998 in a Falcon EL GT, and his past driving experience includes competing in the Rally of Tasmania, the Classic Adelaide tarmac rally, and the Grand Prix Rally. He has also raced Formula Fords, club cars, and sports sedans at club level since 1993.
Targa General Manager Rob McGuire said a total of 265 entries had already been received for this year's event, the 11th annual staging of the rally, including five-times winner Jim Richards in a Porsche, and 1994 champion Andrew Miedecke in a Dodge Viper.
Targa Tasmania is promoted by global sports marketing company Octagon Worldwide, the sports marketing and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group, one of the world's largest advertising and marketing communications groups.