CLASSIC WINNER AIMS FOR SECOND TARGA TASMANIA PODIUM IN 2005 WEDNESDAY, 23 MARCH: Victorian Nick Ellis first competed in Targa Tasmania in 2001. Four events later Ellis has written-off two cars, obtained a mild eighth in 2003 and then came...
CLASSIC WINNER AIMS FOR SECOND TARGA TASMANIA PODIUM IN 2005
WEDNESDAY, 23 MARCH: Victorian Nick Ellis first competed in Targa Tasmania in 2001. Four events later Ellis has written-off two cars, obtained a mild eighth in 2003 and then came back in 2004 to win the Shannons Classic competition outright. Off the back of a good Rally Tasmania result, Ellis is back in the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally from April 26-May 1, to prove his win was not a fluke amid tragedies.
35-year-old Ellis, an independent car wholesaler from Airport West, and his first time navigator Tracey Williams were stunning in their 2004 Classic victory of the five-day long rally - fighting their way to the front of the field from 12th outright at the end of day one, in some very testing road conditions.
"With our car handling very well in wet conditions, the weather played a big part in our win last year. In endurance events like Targa Tasmania, you just have to make sure you are still standing at the end of each day."
Having run in the event for the last four years, with three different drivers at the wheel, to date the muscly two-door Escort RS 2000 has completed every stage of each event (about 180 in total), under the required Targa Trophy time.
"Based on our performance in Rally Tasmania, we have improved our ability to run in the dry. I just wish my history in the event was as good as the car's performance," said Ellis.
The much deserved Targa Tasmania 2004 win came after an unlucky batch of mishaps. Ellis and his then navigator and long term girlfriend, Paula Pritchard, wrote-off their Opel Adam 4x4 Turbo while heading into Burnie on day four of his first Targa Tasmania in 2001. The following year Ellis engaged in fiery roll in a four-door RS 2000, forcing him to once again withdraw from the event.
Driving the same two-door 1980 Ford Escort RS 2000 that saw them first over the line at last year's event, with only six weeks to go until the April event, Ellis is currently in full preparation for his Targa Tasmania 2005 kick-off and hopes to equal his winning result from last year.
"I do all my own race preparation, the engine included," said Ellis. "Four years ago I knew what a piston was but had no idea what it did. To win again, that would be nice, but top ten is what we are aiming for this year."
The Ellis-Williams entry is one of 290 applications already received for the 2005 event. At the head of the Modern field is seven-time Bathurst and Targa Tasmania champion Jim Richards and his Tasmanian navigator Barry Oliver. Other Tasmanian's contesting for a top spot in the drivetravel.com Modern Competition is dual Nations Cup Champion Paul Stokell in a Lamborghini Gallardo and the Tasmanian uncle/nephew team of John and Jason White, fresh from their Rally Tasmania win.
Targa Tasmania is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania.