RICHARDS TAKES EIGHTH TARGA - TASSIE RIVALS BATTLE FOR PODIUM ORDER Despite best efforts in the wet from last years Targa Tasmania winner, defending champion Jason White has lost his title to all-conquering Jim Richards, who today notched up his...
RICHARDS TAKES EIGHTH TARGA - TASSIE RIVALS BATTLE FOR PODIUM ORDER
Despite best efforts in the wet from last years Targa Tasmania winner, defending champion Jason White has lost his title to all-conquering Jim Richards, who today notched up his eighth win in the 2100km tarmac rally in the drivetravel.com Modern Competition.
With the weather turning on the second half of today's final 145km leg Richards, of Victoria, and his Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver capped off their near perfect 2006 Targa Tasmania campaign with a 2-minute 53-second advantage in their dry weather preferred 410kw 2003 Porsche GT2.
"This is probably our best win ever," said Richards. "Competition has been really tight and up until a few stages ago the lead was as close as it's ever been. It's nice to win another one because we haven't won it for a while."
"The good thing about being in the lead on the last day is when it's dry, you can just regulate your lead and you don't have to try too hard and just keep an eye on the gap between you and second place."
As the competition field made its way down the West Coast of Tasmania towards Hobart for the Official Finish at Wrest Point, wet roads after the lunchbreak paved the way for two of Tasmania's best rally drivers, Launceston's Greg Garwood and 2005 winner Jason White of Hobart, to finish on the podium.
Changing the order of the day was a tyre penalty applied to Richards' closest rival, South Australian Steve Glenney, who was directed by Event Officials at the Queenstown lunch break to change three worn tyres on his 2002 Subaru WRX. Not carrying sufficient spares meant Glenney was forced to withdraw from the event and forfeit a possible podium finish.
"We're very disheartened about having to withdraw, because we didn't think the tyres were that bad," said Glenney. "They were fine last night and I didn't think they had deteriorated since then."
After inheriting second position, Skelta G-Force driver Ray Vandersee's campaign came to a screaming halt, when a broken axle prevented him from contesting the last two stages of the day.
"It's a shattering feeling but there was a lot to take from our efforts, in particular how reliable the Skelta G-Force is," said Vandersee. "This is the toughest rally event in the world and we nearly snared a first-up taste of success."
After slipping into second place, the defending champion who had been experiencing clutch problems from day-dot, tried to maintain a clean run in his 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo.
Then, on the event's longest competition stage the 47.24km Mt Arrowsmith, cautious driving due to unfamiliar noises from the front end had Jason and his navigator John White lose precious seconds on the monster stage. White's Tasmanian rival Garwood who was also runner up in 2005, with his Queensland navigator John Allen, slid into second in his Porsche 911 Turbo.
"Anyone in the top ten could have won," said Garwood. "This event just got faster and faster - it's been a real eye opener. We're surprised but delighted to be on the podium. This afternoon we worked so hard."
It was a well fought battle between Garwood and White with their four-wheel-drive machines dominating under the diminishing weather. White finished 46-seconds behind Garwood.
"We're happy to be on the podium again because we had lots of dramas during the event, and there's no doubt this car still has the potential to win Targa Tasmania," said Jason White.
Rounding out the top five, was V8 Supercar driver Tony Longhurst who bettered his 2005 result in his Subaru WRX by finishing fourth. While Queenslander Russell Kempnich and his navigator Peter Burrey, sprung from the rear to finish 5th position in his 2004 Porsche GT3, 6-seconds behind Longhurst.
"We're very happy," said Longhurst. "We had a strong finish on the last day and I'm the highest finished Subaru again this year. It's a wonderful result and a great car."
Rooklyn who, with his navigator Linda Long, put up an incredible fight, proved the importance and fragility of tyres in this incredible test of endurance. Despite a 4-minute tyre penalty, Rooklyn and Long finished sixth.
"This event was tough with the tyre choice that we made, we didn't expect it to be as dry for as long. The end result has been a big credit to the team," said Rooklyn.
Bathurst legend Peter Brock and his first time navigator, Mick Hone, finished twelfth in their 2000 Daytona Coupe, losing several spots over the day due to a poor combination of wheels and tyres.
"It was a very fast event and the dry weather caused a few problems for a few people," said Brock. "A lot took chances and not all of them paid off. The car was fantastic and there's no doubt that it has the potential to win the event, but it did suffer a bit from its wheel and tyre package. That's something we'll fix if we come back next year, so look out."
Porsche driver Tony Quinn, of Queensland, once again suffered under the peril of Tasmania's challenging West Coast roads, crashing out 11km into the first stage of the day, Hellyer Gorge while in tenth position. This is the second year in a row that Quinn and his Tasmanian navigator Keith Wenn have had to piece back together their 911 Turbo after a lose on the final day.
As one of the driest events in Targa Tasmania history, many other highflying competitors were threatened by tyre wear. As well as Rooklyn: Brock, Glenney and Dean Herridge all obtained time penalties for changing one, or more, tyres.
Herridge, flying the flag for Subaru Motorsport, put on a stunning performance despite the impact of the tyre penalty which dropped him down to 29th position at the start of the day. The Western Australian ARC frontrunner reaffirmed his incredible ability to drive on tarmac by moving up 16 places to finish 13th.
It was an incredible case of bad luck for New South Welshman Bill Pye and navigator Grant Geelan who have lucked out for the second year in a row on the event's final stages. The engine in the pair's 1976 model Porsche Carrera broke a coil, dropping the pair from podium contention.
As a matter of course, the 2006 Shannons Classic crown went to second in-line, Ian Morris of Victoria and his navigator Alex Molocznyk in their 1981 Alfa Romeo GTV. The pair has gone two better this year, after finishing third last year.
"We've been third twice before so to go two better is just fantastic," said Morris. "We crashed out while only a second off the lead in 2003 so it makes the win very satisfying. The last two days of competition favours our car because the roads are pretty flowing and even though we weren't in the top three we weren't too worried because a few fell by the wayside and we came through."
A sweet sensation has been had for one of Targa Tasmania's three 15 year competitors, Geoff Taylor of Victoria, who finished third in the Shannons Classic Competition, also in a Porsche. Taylor and his navigator Lee Harper came in 56-seconds behind some fellow Porsche drivers; the father and daughter team of Peter and Rebecca Eames.
<pre> TARGA TASMANIA 2006 UNOFFICIAL SCORES
1. 919 Jim Richards Vic - Barry Oliver Tas 2003 Porsche 911 GT2 CS 2. 945 Greg Garwood Tas - John Allen QLD 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo 02:53 3. 934 Jason White Tas - John White Tas 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo 03:39 4. 922 Tony Longhurst NSW - Michael DeVere QLD 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 05:22 5. 950 Russell Kempnich, QLD - Peter Burrey, NSW 2004 Porsche GT3 05:28 6. 998 Warwick Rooklyn NSW - Linda Long NSW 2005 Mitsubishi Evolution Lancer IX 06:16 7. 936 Paul Blackie VIC - Peter Blackie NZ 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo 07:32 8. 903 Lynn Rattray Tas - Tony Jackson QLD 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 07:53 9. 983 Shaun Juniper QLD - Cameron Reeves QLD 2000 Porsche 911 Turbo 10:25 10. 954 Paul Freestone VIC - Christine Freestone VIC 2002 Holden Monaro CV8 T3 10:31
Other competitors of interest 12. 974 Peter Brock Vic - Mick Hone Vic 2001 Daytona Coupe 11:09 13. 978 Dean Herridge WA - Bill Hayes WA 2004 Subaru WRX Spec C 11:14
Shannons Classic Competition 1. 625 Ian Morris Vic - Alex Molocznyk QLD 1981 Alfa Romeo GTV6 2. 573 Peter Eames Vic - Rebecca Eames Vic 1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 00:31 3. 555 Geoff Taylor Vic - Lee Harper Vic 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 01:27 4. 551 Greg Cook Vic - Tracey Williams Vic 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 01:32 5. 607 Barry Faux ACT - Ray Pollard NLD 1979 Mazda RX7 01:37
Unique Cars Historic Competition 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 24:20 3. 116 John Felder VIC - Mark Burns VIC 1930 Oakland 8-101 26:48
Unique Cars Classic Sprint Competition 1. 172 Stephen Bruce WA - Terri Bruce WA 1967 Morris Cooper S 2. 173 Simon Froude VIC - Will Logan TAS 1973 Porsche 911 RSR 04:01 3. 170 James Powell-Davies TAS - Nick McShane TAS 1977 BMW Alpina 533i 07:18