Weeks and Broadbent move towards Targa victory The battle for modern section honours at Targa Tasmania has developed in to a two horse race between the Lamborghini of Kevin Weeks and the Nissan GTR of Tony Quinn cleared out from the field, with...
Weeks and Broadbent move towards Targa victory
The battle for modern section honours at Targa Tasmania has developed in to a two horse race between the Lamborghini of Kevin Weeks and the Nissan GTR of Tony Quinn cleared out from the field, with only the final leg from Strahan to Hobart remaining.
Weeks holds a slender eight second lead over the veteran Quinn, with local hope, Jason White, back one minute 44 seconds seconds after experiencing wind-screen wiper problems in the rain late on the fourth day.
The winner of the past two Classic titles, Rex Broadbent, is on-track to make it three straight after a brilliant drive in the wet on Saturday afternoon. The leader since the opening day, Ben Wooster, in a Nissan Skyline GTS, watched his lead vanish when the roads turned slippery at Hellyer Gorge early in the afternoon.
No such problems for Tasmanian Greg Johnston in the Showroom class. His Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 has dominated proceedings across the first four days, and victory on the fifth seems his certain reward.
After leaving Launceston the first four stages of the day were held in dry conditions. But once the event reached the Hellyer Gorge, light rain followed the crews down the West coast, making Weeks' drive all the more impressive.
His rear-wheel drive Lamborghinia Gallardo Superleggera wasn't expected to be on the pace when the weather turned, but he's proven everyone wrong.
"Today has been pretty edgy because it's been wet," Weeks said on arriving in Strahan. "We're looking forward to getting to the finish with the car in one piece. If it keeps raining I think it could be a problem because the GTR (Quinn) is pretty quick."
Quinn's charge for victory should have been made easier in the rain, but brake problems early in the day saw him drop time to his rival. His Nissan GTR's brakes overheated and the car cut out, forcing him to restart the engine before continuing.
"I drove the last three kilometres of one stage using just the gears and the handbrake, it was incredible," Quinn said.
"The boys reckon the brake fluid probably boiled. This car is 400kg heavier than anything else, so it's an area that we're obviously going to have to do some development in."
Local hopes have been resting on Jason White after his scorching pace on Friday, but the Burnie driver lost time firstly with brake problems, and then when his windscreen wipers seized on the last stage.
"The ABS problem that we knew we had coming into the event was accentuated by the wet conditions, and to make things worse the new front brake pads we put in last night went really soggy," White explained.
"We're doing what we can in the wet, but then the wipers seized three kilometers into the last stage and we virtually had to come to a stop because the rain was so heavy. Hopefully we can fix that tonight."
Dean Herridge was in fourth place but was forced to change two tyres after the Cethana stage. The ensuing four minute penalty dropped him to seventh place. That elevated Burnie's Jamie Vandenberg into fourth place in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
In the classic car category, Victorian Rex Broadbent has been the star of the day, winning five of the eight stages and ending the day with a commanding one minute and 24 second buffer.
His closest rival, and the leader for the first four days, Queenslander Ben Wooster, dropped to second after struggling with cracked brake rotors on the front of his Nissan Skyline GTS.
Broadbent's Porshce 911 handled the stages beautifully, and he's eyeing his third straight Targa crown.
"This is the first time I've used medium tyres, and they feel pretty good," he said. "We haven't done anything silly, we've just stayed in the middle of the road and if we've picked up time, then that's fantastic."
Wooster was disappointed to lose the lead, but hopeful of repairing the car for the final run to Hobart.
"We'll try and fix the car tonight, but I'm not sure what we can do, we're stuck here on the west coast and we might just have to try and get it to the finish," a dejected Wooster said as spare parts were being sourced in Hobart late on Saturday afternoon.
Although he's over two minutes from the lead, New South Welshman Bill Pye hasn't given up hope just yet.
"We've saved our tyres until the end, so we can have a go regardless. Our strategy is to go harder tomorrow," Pye said. "We can hold the pace with most in the dry, but in the wet we might be a little bit quicker."
Greg Johnston has extended his lead in the Showroom category, but Mazda's Brendan Reeves suffered a puncture today and dropped to third place, while his team-mate, Rick Bates, suffered turbo problems and is now languishing in sixth position.
That has allowed last year's winner, Hobart's Tony Warren, to move onto the second place on the podium in his Lancer Evo 9, but with a gap of nearly three minutes between he and Johnston, it appears unlikely that he can repeat last year's win.
Reeves was disappointed with his time loss and the consequent two minute penalty for changing a tyre, but owned up to the mistake.
"We had a 'don't cut' on a corner in Rosebery, and me being a typical driver, I cut the corner and we got a puncture," he said.
"Now we're well back in our class. I'm not sure if we can make up the time tomorrow, with the wet conditions the four-wheel drives have been really quick, and if it stays wet I don't think we'll have any chance."
The18th running of Targa Tasmania concludes on Sunday with a further five stages between Strahan and Hobart, including the event's longest, Mount Arrowsmith at 47 kilometres.
The podium finish will be at Hobart's Wrest Point at 2pm.