New stage for 2003 Targa Tasmania

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20: Targa Tasmania organisers today announced they had extended the 2003 tarmac rally to 45 competitive stages, with the addition of a new stage in the northern town of Perth near Launceston. The rally will be held from May...

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20: Targa Tasmania organisers today announced they had extended the 2003 tarmac rally to 45 competitive stages, with the addition of a new stage in the northern town of Perth near Launceston.

The rally will be held from May 13-18, and the Perth stage will comprise a 3.12km course through the town's streets. It will be the final stage of the second leg around the north and east coast areas of Tasmania on May 15.

Rob McGuire, General Manager Tasmania of global sports and events company Octagon, which owns and produces the rally, said Perth had a strong motorsport supporter base and this was a factor why the original schedule of 44 stages had been increased.

"Many of our Targa officials are from Perth, and the town is situated near Symmons Plans Raceway so there is a big motorsport following in the area," said McGuire.

"It's going to be an interesting stage -- the course is mainly flat, but there are some tight, 90-degree corners around the streets so acceleration and braking will be important."

The 12th annual Targa rally since 1992 will be contested over a total distance of 2,299km, with 464km in competitive stages.

McGuire said that Greg Carr would make the annual CAMS course inspection over three days early next month.

Entries for next year's Targa have increased to 226, and McGuire is hopeful of bettering the event record of 300 starters in 2000.

"There's still six months to go before the start, and interest in Targa is higher than it's ever been," said McGuire.

The latest batch of entries includes Victorian Len Cattlin, who will drive in the Classic Competition the same 1967 Ford Mustang which he drove to victory in the inaugural Targa Newfoundland event in Canada during September. Brisbane-based Virgin Blue Airlines executive Rob Sherrard will compete in a turbocharged 1985 Ford RS200 Evo.

Overseas entries recently lodged include German Michael Stoscheck in the 1971 Porsche 911 which won the Monte Carlo round of the 1972 World Rally Championship, and Japan's Wakujiro Kobayashi in a Nissan Skyline GTR.

Defending champion and six-times Targa winner Jim Richards, whose 2002 results include winning the Bathurst 1000, heads the Modern Competition entries for 2003, along with fellow-Porsche driver Tony Quinn.

Targa will be contested in four competitions -- Shannons Historic (for cars from 1900-46), Shannons 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.

NOTE: Targa Tasmania won the Major Festival and Event category of the 2002 Tasmanian Tourism Awards, held earlier this month at Wrest Point Casino in Hobart at a gala function attended by Premier Jim Bacon. The result means Targa has been nominated in the same category for the Australian Tourism Award finals in Adelaide in February. Targa has injected more than $100-million into the Tasmanian economy from 1992 up to this year.

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.

Octagon is part of The Interpublic Group (NYSE:IPG), the world's largest advertising and marketing communications group. The Interpublic Group is the only marketing communications and services group with a global sports marketing capability. Octagon employs over 1,500 people in 24 countries on all major continents. For further information please visit: www.octagon.com

-www.targa.org.au

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Series Other rally
Drivers Jim Richards , Tony Quinn