Targa Tasmania Tarmac Rally -- Thursday, April 18 Leg 2 Report: Launceston to Hobart, 9 stages (75.40km competitive) Richards masters wet weather in Targa Rally A masterful wet-weather display by Jim Richards enabled him to extend his lead...
Targa Tasmania Tarmac Rally -- Thursday, April 18
Leg 2 Report: Launceston to Hobart, 9 stages (75.40km competitive)
Richards masters wet weather in Targa Rally
A masterful wet-weather display by Jim Richards enabled him to extend his lead over rookie South Australian driver Steve Glenney in today's second leg of the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
Richards, a five-times winner of the event, completed the nine stages down Tasmania's East Coast with an overall penalty time of 4-mins 39-secs in his turbo Porsche 911. The 54-year-old Melbourne-based New Zealander holds a lead of 1-min 24-secs over Steve Glenney, who is second in his Targa debut in a four-wheel-drive Nissan Skyline GT-R.
Today's leg began in dry conditions, but heavy rain fell during the final three stages, through Cranbrook, Triabunna, and Grasstree Hill.
Richards was consistently quick through the variable weather, and said the rain would enhance the performance of the tyres on his 460-horsepower Porsche during the remainder of the 1,977km rally. He conceded he had been concerned about the automatic 2-min penalty for tyre changes in this year's event.
"You still have tyre wear in the rain, but the wet should make them last longer," said Richards. "We're still going fast in the wet and when you're sliding around it makes it pretty interesting."
Glenney said he was delighted with his progress considering he was less experienced in rallying than the majority of his front-running rivals. The 25-year-old from Wistow said that learning to drive on a farm near Adelaide allowed him to adapt to wet weather driving more easily.
"I haven't done a lot of rallying so I didn't come here with any big expectations, other than to do the best I could," he said. "Being in a four-wheel-drive car helps in the wet. I got my driving experience growing up on a farm near Adelaide, but I'm not from a 'motor racing family' as such. I'm having a good run so far and I'm trying to keep it safe and on the bitumen."
Canberra's Rick Bates charged into contention in the works Mazda RX-7 SP, and now shares equal third place with Queensland's Tony Quinn, runner-up in Targa in 2001, in a Porsche 911.
"Rally experience helps in the wet, but I'm still getting used to the car," said Bates. "It's a matter of finding a happy medium between not going off and getting good times in a car you don't know very well. I don't think anyone looks forward to the rain because it's such hard work, but maybe I can do better than some."
Tasmania's Jason White started the leg in fifth, after the 3-hrs 37-mins penalty he received yesterday was dropped, and finished in the same position in his Mitsubishi Evo VII. Peter Brock, the nine-times Bathurst winner, slipped from seventh to ninth in his V8 Holden Monaro, and he is 2-mins 37-secs behind Richards.
NSW driver Bob Hughes had a spectacular crash in The Sideling stage, after his Mitsubishi Evo VI went off the road at 140-km/h and rolled down a gully.
"I came up on a long right-hander and got in there a bit hot," said Hughes. "We started the day a little further back than we wanted to be and we were pushing harder than we should have been. The car went off the road, over a cliff and down a bank. Fortunately nobody got hurt because it could have been a lot worse."
NSW's Peter Moore, who was third after yesterday's opening leg, dropped out of contention after his Nissan Skyine GT-R developed mechanical problems in the Derby stage.
Tomorrow's third leg comprises eight stages, starting and finishing in Hobart with a total competitive distance of 60.99km.