Targa Tasmania Tarmac Rally -- Friday, April 19 Leg 3 Report: Hobart to Hobart, 8 stages (60.99km competitive) Holden tries to repair Richards' Monaro. The factory Holden Motorsport team is working furiously through the night repairing the V8...
Targa Tasmania Tarmac Rally -- Friday, April 19
Leg 3 Report: Hobart to Hobart, 8 stages (60.99km competitive)
Holden tries to repair Richards' Monaro.
The factory Holden Motorsport team is working furiously through the night repairing the V8 Monaro crashed by Steven Richards today to get him back into the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
Richards badly damaged the front-end of the Monaro when he smashed into roadside banking during the Cygnet stage of today's third leg of the 1,977km rally. The 29-year-old, who won Bathurst in 1998 and again the following year, and navigator Jenny Cole were not injured in the incident.
After the accident Richards said he doubted the car could be repaired in time for the final two days of the rally, which ends in Hobart on Sunday. However, last night Holden team manager Greg Stevenson said the damage was not as bad as first thought, and the crew would make every effort to have the car race-ready for tomorrow's opening stage of the fourth leg, which starts at 7.30am. Stevenson said the team was being assisted in the repairs by 12 staff from Motors, the Hobart Holden dealer.
"We brought the car back to Motors after the crash and initially we thought there was no way we could get it going again in time," Stevenson. "The guys here agreed to pitch in and help out so we've giving it our best shot. I don't think any of us will get any sleep tonight."
Should Richards make the start tomorrow he faces an additional penalty of 3-hrs 40-mins for missing 11 control points over the final three stages today. He was in 18th position before the Cygnet stage with a total penalty time of 10-mins 30-secs.
"I can't win with that sort of penalty, but if we get the car going again then I owe it to the guys who are doing the work to get back out there and do my best," he said.
Richards' crash overshadowed another superb driving performance from his 54-year-old father Jim Richards, who expended his lead in the rally to 1-min 58-secs. Jim Richards has a total penalty time of 6-mins 33-secs in a turbo Porsche 911, with South Australian Steve Glenney second in a Nissan Skyline. Queensland's Tony Quinn is third in a Porsche 911, while Richards' team-mate, nine-times Bathurst champion Peter Brock, is eighth.
The crash by Steven Richards happened just minutes after the Subaru WRX of Queenslanders Karl Farmer and John Grounds hit the same bank during Cygnet.
"It was confusing because when I saw the Subaru next to the road and the skid marks I thought the road went left, but it actually went right" said Richards. "Jenny (Cole) made the right call, but in the confusion I got onto the gravel and it was over. I wanted to get through this race without a scratch on the car, but the roads down here demand respect and I got it wrong."
Canberra's Rick Bates dropped from fourth to sixth after his Mazda RX-7 SP developed clutch problems. He is now 3-mins 32-secs behind Richards. The Mazda team is replacing the clutch and gearbox overnight in a bid to solve the problem.
"Once I was moving I could select gears, but it was a hassle getting off the start line," he said. "I drove about 100km without a clutch so the gearbox isn't so flash. I was trying to keep it in gears longer so I couldn't carry optimum corner speed. If the car is okay after we fix the problem then I think we can start making up time again."
NSW's Michael Taylor, who is providing Korean manufacturer Hyundai with the world motorsport debut of its Tiburon model, is 31st, with a total penalty time of 18-mins 44-secs.
"There's nothing in front of us with at least 100-kW more power," said Taylor. "I think we went backwards this afternoon because Cygnet is a horsepower stage. The car was good in Longley because it seems to have a good set-up for slippery conditions."
Tomorrow's fourth leg comprises 10 stages, starting in Hobart and finishing in Burnie with a total competitive distance of 115.27km.