TWO-WHEEL-DRIVES PROSPER IN THE DRY If anyone has ever wondered what Targa Tasmania would be like without any sign of rain, this years 15th Anniversary event would tell all. So too will the smile on Jim Richards' face as continual fine weather...
TWO-WHEEL-DRIVES PROSPER IN THE DRY
If anyone has ever wondered what Targa Tasmania would be like without any sign of rain, this years 15th Anniversary event would tell all. So too will the smile on Jim Richards' face as continual fine weather paves the way for the Porsche driver's eighth Targa win when the event finishes in Hobart tomorrow night.
Creating what has been a level playing field between two-wheel, and four-wheel-drive rally cars, the fine weather has seen mechanical problems outnumber incidents, engines overheat and tyres wear.
Discounting the advantage four-wheel-drive cars have in the wet, competitors are finding themselves having to fight with all their might to retain their competitive edge.
It is only the mastery of Richards and his navigator, Barry Oliver who make this event look easy. Today the duo further extended their lead by 12-seconds in their two-wheel-drive 2003 Porsche 911 GT2, over Targa championship contender, South Australian, Steve Glenney who tails by 37-seconds.
"We're really happy with our result today," said Richards after pulling into Burnie, the events North Western overnight stop. "The weather forecast is fantastic; the rain would have had a major effect on us, but it wouldn't have affected the other guys, so we'd like it to stay dry."
Glenney is no stranger to driving in the shadow of Jim Richards, with the gravel rally privateer finishing second behind the Porsche master in 2003. Richards won the event that year while armed with a four-wheel-drive Turbo.
"Our suspension has been fine today after yesterday's problems," said Glenney. "Today's been all about keeping on pace and conserving tyres. All we can do is the best we can and keep pressing on."
With many other highly ranked competitors falling by the wayside, more notably on the 37.48km Cethana stage, Ray Vandersee in his two-wheel-drive Australian-bred Skelta, showed that he is a force to be reckoned with, shifting into third position by clocking faster times than Mitsubishi factory driver Warwick Rooklyn on all afternoon stages.
"We think we might be in third place now after we did really well on Cethana," said an elated Vandersee. "We had a brilliant day this afternoon and it keeps getting better. Fine weather will be just brilliant for us!"
Following Vandersee's attack, Rooklyn and his navigator Linda Long had no choice but to play second-fiddle to the Skelta, finishing 48-seconds further afield in their four-wheel-drive Evolution Lancer IX.
"We've had a few tyre problems," said Rooklyn. "But we're still running fairly well. The heat today took its toll on a few of our tyres and now they're pretty shagged."
Today spelt trouble for Peter Brock's Daytona Coupe, with the gearbox on the 1965 Shelby Cobra Replica failing on the ten-time Bathurst Enduro Champion. This mechanical set-back saw Brock contesting the last two stages of the day in only fifth gear.
"We've had only top gear for a fair while, but it's surprising how well the car's gone despite that," said Brock. "There's something going on inside the gearbox and we'll have a look at it tonight. We only hope that it can be fixed."
Defending champion Jason White is at a loss to explain the unreliability of his Lamborghini Gallardo's clutch. Despite ongoing problems, White moved up three spots over today's stages finishing in fifth position, having to make up 2-minutes and 18-seconds tomorrow in order to reclaim his Targa Tasmania title.
"We're still having clutch problems and we still don't know what's causing it," said a frustrated White. "It's just a crazy set up this clutch."
Two noteworthy movers and shakers were Subaru drivers Dean Herridge and Tony Longhurst. Herridge took his 5-minute penalty, applied last night for hitting a chicane on yesterday's Longley stage, firmly on the chin started today's leg in 25th position and finished in stunning 13th.
Longhurst will start the events final day of competition in seventh position, with 2-minutes and 49-seconds to make up for a podium finish.
End of day results indicate that yesterday's Shannons Classic leaders Bill Pye and Grant Geelan, of New South Wales, dropped 1-minute 42-seconds following what was thought to be a poor performance on the South Riana stage. In fact, the time loss was attributed to the team stopping for an accident. The duo has applied for a derived time, which, if granted by Event Organisers, will put them back into contention.
Tomorrow's fifth and final leg comprises nine stages, with a competitive distance of 145.27km. Day five is deemed the most challenging and arduous of all the days. State weather forecasts indicate cool, but dry weather for tomorrow.
The event's longest stage, Mt Arrowsmith, will be the ultimate test for competitors when the 47.24km stage is run later in the day.
<pre> Pos Car Crew Make Margin 1. 919 Jim Richards Vic - Barry Oliver Tas 2003 Porsche 911 GT2 CS 2. 988 Steve Glenney SA - Bernie Webb ACT 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti 00:37 3. 972 Ray Vandersee QLD - Jahmeil Taylor SA 2004 Skelta G-Force 01:00 4. 998 Warwick Rooklyn NSW - Linda Long NSW 2005 Mitsubishi Evolution Lancer IX 01:48 5. 934 Jason White Tas - John White Tas 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo 02:18 6. 945 Greg Garwood Tas - John Allen QLD 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo 02:43 7. 922 Tony Longhurst NSW - Michael DeVere QLD 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti 03:49 8. 974 Peter Brock Vic - Mick Hone Vic 2001 Daytona Coupe 04:02 9. Tony Quinn QLD - Keith Wenn Tas 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo 04:04 10. Lynn Rattray Tas - Tony Jackson QLD 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 05:59
Shannons Classic Competition Pos Car Crew Make Margin 1. 383 Peter Ullrich NSW - Sari Ullrich NSW 1963 Jensen CV8 2. 573 Peter Eames Vic - Rebecca Eames Vic 1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 00:06 3. 625 Ian Morris Vic - Alex Molocznyk QLD 1981 Alfa Romeo GTV6 00:37 4. 531 William Pye NSW - Grant Geelan NSW 1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 3 00:44 5. 551 Greg Cook Vic - Tracey Williams Vic 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 00:55
Unique Cars Historic Competition Pos Car Crew Make Margin 1. 131 John Lawson VIC - Andrew Lawson VIC 1938 Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia Spyder 2. 1 Graham Kent TAS - Pat Kent TAS 1936 Ford V8 Coupe 14:59 3. 116 John Felder VIC - Mark Burns VIC 1930 Oakland 8-101 16:51
Unique Cars Classic Sprint Competition Pos Car Crew Make Margin 1. 172 Stephen Bruce WA - Terri Bruce WA 1967 Morris Cooper S 2. 173 Simon Froude VIC - Will Logan TAS 1973 Porsche 911 RSR 01:20 3. 170 James Powell-Davies TAS - Nick McShane TAS 1977 BMW Alpina 533i 03:49