Defending champion Jim Richards and Queenslander Tony Quinn are set for a close battle for overall honours in tomorrow's final leg of the 10th anniversary Targa Tasmania tarmac rally. Richards, chasing his fifth win with Tasmanian navigator...
Defending champion Jim Richards and Queenslander Tony Quinn are set for a close battle for overall honours in tomorrow's final leg of the 10th anniversary Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
Richards, chasing his fifth win with Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver, goes into the sixth and final leg over eight stages in the southern region leading by 1-min and 38-secs in his turbo Porsche 911. They have accumulated a total penalty time of 9-min 52-secs in his since the rally began on April 18.
Richards went into today's nine-stage fifth leg around the South-East Coast area leading Quinn by 54-secs and extended the advantage by a further 44-secs in wet weather and slippery road conditions.
Both Richards and Quinn, who is driving another Porsche 911 with Tasmanian Keith Wenn, received 1-min penalties for fitting a new tyre to their cars.
"We tore up the left-rear tyre out coming down the West Coast yesterday and had to put a new one on the car," said Richards. "I'd say we're one of the fastest cars on the course and you don't have speed without penalty."
Quinn, a 43-year-old pet food businessman from the Gold Coast, was forced to fit a new tyre to his car after it struck a wall and pierced the rubber.
"It's a pity we had to change the tyre because we were right on Jim's tail," said Quinn. "Today was really slippery. It was like driving on an ice-skating rink."
Quinn said that if could win Targa it would be the biggest victory of his motorsport career.
"Jim is a great driver in a very good car, but we haven't given up," said Quinn.
Victorians Craig Dean and Graham Bell are third in a Toyota Supra with a penalty time of 12-min 59-secs, followed by triple Australian rally champion Neal Bates and navigator Coral Taylor in a Lexus IS200.
Bates, who won Targa in 1995 with Taylor, said his aim in the final leg would be to challenge for a top-three podium result in his rear-drive two-litre car.
"We're driving the car as hard as we can, and I think we've done well to give ourselves a shot at the podium considering we've been racing against bigger and more powerful cars," said Bates.
The only major accident of the day involved the Daytona Coupe raced by Victorian Richard Bendell, which crashed into a bank in the final stage at Grasstree Hill. Neither was injured.
Former Australian rally champion Murray Coote remained in 20th position in the works-assisted Mazda MX-5 he is sharing with navigator Anthony McLoughlin. The car features a turbocharger, which is being developed for mass-production later this year.
"This car is a good little thing for Targa, but the handling is extremely different in wet and dry conditions," said Coote. We are on a learning curve with the turbo and it's been tricky in the wet. Our car is like comparing apples with pears in terms of outright performance between us and the Porsches. It's been a lot of fun."
Steve Hoinville, driving a factory-backed Ford Falcon XR6, is 23rd and satisfied with the car in wet and dry conditions.
"We've done nothing to except fuel and tyres and we've had no dramas," said Hoinville. "We're a lot quicker now than we were at the start. I just get in it and drive the wheels off it."
<pre> OVERALL CLASSIFICATION (after leg 5)
MODERN COMPETITION (Outright): POS DRIVERS CAR PENALTY TIME 1. J. Richards (Vic)-B. Oliver (Tas) Porsche 911 9-min 52-secs 2. T. Quinn (Qld)-K. Wenn (Tas) Porsche 911 11-min 30-secs 3. C. Dean-G. Bell (Vic) Toyota Supra 12-min 59-secs 4. N. Bates-C. Taylor (A.C.T.) Lexus IS200 13-min 44-secs 5. R. Lintott (NSW)-T. Jackson (Tas) Porsche 911 14-min 06-secs 6. M. Warwick-G. Warwick (Vic) Porsche 911 14-min 15-secs 7. B. Learoyd-C. Palmer (Qld) Chevrolet Corvette 14-min 48-secs 8. J. Beable-N. Beable (Vic) Nissan Skyline 15-min 09-secs 9. M. Cummings-C. Alp (Vic) Porsche 993 16-min 06-secs 10. G. Cook-T. Robertson (Tas) Porsche 911 18-min 08-secs OTHERS: 20. M. Coote-A. McLoughlan (Qld) Mazda MX-5 23-min 20-secs 23. S. Hoinville-G. Foletta (Vic) Ford Falcon XR6 24-min 19-secs 45. B. Sheene (Qld)-F. White (Tas) Mercedes-Benz ML 55 37-min 34-secs 78. P. Brock-J. Brock (Vic) V8 Holden Ute 8-hr 38-min 13-secs
CLASSIC COMPETITION: POS DRIVERS CAR PENALTY TIME 1. P. Stuart-M. Connolly (Vic) Porsche 911 7-mins 52-secs 2. G. Duggan-L. Duggan (Tas) Datsun 2000 9-min 17-secs 3. P. Freestone-C. Freestone (Vic) Austin Healey 12-min 36-secs