Targa Tasmania tarmac rally prologue results

APRIL 18: Wet-weather specialist Jim Richards mastered damp and slippery conditions to win the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally Temco Prologue at George Town near Launceston today as former 500cc motorcycle world champion Michael Doohan made a cautious...

APRIL 18: Wet-weather specialist Jim Richards mastered damp and slippery conditions to win the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally Temco Prologue at George Town near Launceston today as former 500cc motorcycle world champion Michael Doohan made a cautious car racing debut.

Richards, a six-times Bathurst 1000 champion known as 'The Rainmaster', completed the 5.08km street course in a time of 3-mins 28.52-secs in a new turbo Porsche 911. The 53-year-old Melbourne-based New Zealander made a dominating start to his perfect bid for a fifth Targa rally victory by finishing 7.05-secs clear of second-placed Max Warwick of Victoria, also driving a Porsche 911.

Porsches filled the opening eight positions in the Prologue, which determined starting positions for tomorrow's first touring section beginning at Launceston Civic Square, and the opening stage at Legana.

Richards, who also won the Targa Prologue in wet conditions in 1998, attributed his victory today to the capabilities of new four-wheel-drive car, and his experience on damp surfaces.

"I don't mind driving in the wet, but I'd rather it was dry," said Richards. "My new Porsche has more power than the car I raced at Targa last year. It also accelerates better out of second-gear corners. We've made a good start, but it's still early days. There are at least 10 guys who could win this rally and we're watching every one of them."

Doohan, a five-times 500cc world champion, finished 55th with a time of 4-mins 4.48-secs in a Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG.

"It was the first day of a long week and I didn't want to get the car sideways and bend it," said Doohan. "I just drove the car around the course and made sure I finished -- I didn't want to take any risks on a wet road because it was slippery out there. We'll work our way into it tomorrow."

Peter Brock, the nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner, emerged 40th driving a V8 Holden Ute.

"I'm pretty surprised about how the car went, how it handled, and how good it was," said Brock. "The only problem we had was the engine cutting out and dropping power. It could be as simple as an air temperature sensor telling the engine it's hot. I'm suspicious so we're taking it back to Launceston to find out."

Former Targa winner Neal Bates was satisfied with 10th position in the Lexus IS200 he is sharing with Coral Taylor, his navigator in three Australian Rally Championship title victories.

"It was slippery, but the Lexus gets its power to the ground better than many other cars so I'm happy to be up with all the Porsches," said Bates. "We did better than we thought we would."

Tomorrow's schedule comprises 10 stages. The rally covers a total of 2,110km, with 525km in competitive stages. <pre> RESULTS (Prologue)

MODERN (Outright): POS DRIVERS CAR TIME 1. J. Richards (Vic)-B. Oliver (Tas) Porsche 911 3:28.52 2. M. Warwick-G. Warwick (Vic) Porsche 911 3:35.57 3. P. Fitzgerald-M. Mansour (Vic) Porsche 911 3:37.38 4. G. Keene-R. Geue (SA) Porsche 911 3:37.86 5. T. Quinn (Qld)-K. Wenn (Tas) Porsche 911 3:38.64 6. R. Lintott (NSW)-T. Jackson (Tas) Porsche 911 3:39.20 7. M. Cummings-C. Alp (Vic) Porsche 993 3:40.46 8. J. Pooley-P. Welch (Tas) Porsche 944 3:40.70 9. S. Gasparinatos-T. Wilson (Tas) BMW M5 3:40.92 10. N. Bates-C. Taylor (A.C.T.) Lexus IS200 3:41.99

OTHERS: 40. P. Brock-J. Brock (Vic) V8 Holden Ute 3:55.36 55. M. Doohan-M. Stacey (Qld) MB CLK 55 AMG 4:04.48 64. B. Sheene (Qld)-F. White (Tas) MB ML 55 AMG 4:10.46

-targa.org-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Jim Richards , Neal Bates , Peter Brock , Coral Taylor