Eight time Targa Tasmania winner, Jim Richards, driving a 2008 Porsche 911 GT2, leads the Modern Competition field after the first day of the five-day tarmac rally. The seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner, currently has a one second advantage of...
Eight time Targa Tasmania winner, Jim Richards, driving a 2008 Porsche 911 GT2, leads the Modern Competition field after the first day of the five-day tarmac rally.
The seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner, currently has a one second advantage of South Australian, Steve Glenney, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Another former Bathurst winner, Tony Longhurst, lies third in a Les Walkden Rallying-prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI, a further three seconds back.
In the Classic Competition, 2007 winner, Rex Broadbent, has dominated day one of the event in his 1974 Porsche 911 RS. Broadbent holds a lead of ten seconds over Peter Eames' 1974 Porsche 911 RS, while Bendigo's Gavin James lies a further 11 seconds in arrears in his 1989 Porsche 944 S2.
The Mazda3 MPSs have dominated the Showroom 2WD category, with Rick Bates holding down a nine second lead over his team mate, former World Rally Championship star, Scotland's Alister McRae. Reigning Australian Rally Champion, Simon Evans, is third in Toyota's TRD Aurion, another 43 seconds back.
Tasmanian Tony Warren leads the Showroom 4WD Competition by one minute and nine seconds over Queenslander Scott Millar. South Australian, Malcolm Klopp, is another 25 seconds behind, rounding out the top three. All three are driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IXs.
While Richards is happy to lead the tightly bunched Modern field, he knows there is a long way to go.
"I'm not getting too excited just yet," Richards said.
"There's really only been three competitive stages so far, and we've only dropped a total of 12 seconds.
"I'm very pleased to be where we are at the end of Day One, and there's only room for improvement."
The Classic battle lost one of its early favourites even before the start, with Prologue leader, Bill Pye, being forced to withdraw with engine problems.
Broadbent had been looking forward to the tussle with his old foe, but knows their will still be plenty of others out there trying to keep him from back-to-back titles.
"I was genuinely hoping Bill (Pye) would out there today," Broadbent said.
"I'm very sad for Bill, as he's put in a huge effort to be here.
"There are still a lot of competitors to challenge us. I've heard that there may be rain forecast for later in the event, which may enable some of the others to catch us if that's the case."
His new rival is Peter Eames, who was a happy man at the end of the long opening day that took in nine stages.
"It's been a great day," Eames said. "We had a major worry last night when the engine oil pressure sender failed after prologue. But the car is going like a train today and we're very happy."
Rick Bates was impressive in his Mazda3 MPS, setting some quick stage times.
"So far the event's been pretty good," Bates said. "We're cruising and looking after the tyres.
"The car is going really well -- yesterday the engine wasn't pulling as well as it should, but the team worked on it overnight and it's great today."
Hobart Mitsubishi driver, Tony Warren, has opened a very handy lead in the 4WD Showroom competition.
"I'm very happy with where we are at the moment," Warren said. "I'm probably going better than I thought we would be.
"When we were building the car, all we had to do to make it eligible for the class was to change the type of fuel the car runs on."
Tomorrow's leg takes competitors out to St Helens and back to Launceston, taking in eight competitive stages. The last is at Longford, the traditional town stage getting underway around 2.30pm.