Team MINI at Targa Day 4: Closing In On The Top Ten. . Stokell: plenty more in the tank for Sunday . Denyer: Best experience in a car, ever (well, front seats anyway) . Sinclair: A full minute faster on one stage compared with last year Team...
Team MINI at Targa Day 4: Closing In On The Top Ten.
. Stokell: plenty more in the tank for Sunday
. Denyer: Best experience in a car, ever (well, front seats anyway)
. Sinclair: A full minute faster on one stage compared with last year
Team MINI Financial Services has a new lease on life as the 2007 Targa Tasmania Rally races to its conclusion.
After four days and more than 1,400 km of the event completed, the Team MINI wild-at-heart racers are ready to switch to their Grand Final strategy.
Leading the MINI pack is Paul Stokell with navigator Peter Burrey at his side in the Tasmanian Tiger MINI. They are placed 11th overall at the close of Day 4, just three seconds outside the top ten after 35 competitive stages. Paul's MINI was in and out of the top ten through a day of dramatically changing conditions.
Grant Denyer and Dale Moscatt in the MINI Cheetah have picked up their pace to be 15th, five seconds off 14th position, and just 46 seconds away from a top ten spot.
The MINI python of Mike Sinclair and Bill Hayes are gaining ground at a sensational rate, now 24th and going hard for the finish in Hobart on Sunday.
The 471 km trip from Hobart to Burnie included 106 km of competitive stages, and was lashed by rain for part of the day.
Four days in on the same set of tyres is not proving to be too great an obstacle for the Team MINI drivers.
"We swapped the hard front tyres for the softer compound that was on the rear and the car went faster," Paul said.
"We had more grip, which was just as well as some of the stages were very wet."
"Cethana was a great stage for us, we made up a lot of time, but then lost a heap on Gunns Plains when I overshot a corner, and blew 15 seconds.
"At South Riana we also lost some time as it was very wet, and we had to stop for an emergency vehicle on the last stage of the day (Fern Glade).
"We haven't been trying that hard so our results are really solid. There's still plenty more in the tank for tomorrow," Paul said.
"We had a terrific day, a ten tenths day" said and enthused Grant Denyer.
"It was probably the best experience I have had in a car ever," he said. "Well, in the front seats anyway."
"We're still rebounding from the day I missed shooting "Australia's Got Talent" on Thursday, but we're carving through the field.
"We were passing cars at 220 km/h in the stage; up on two wheels; getting airborne; the whole bag of tricks. We did get baulked by a couple of cars who didn't see us or wouldn't move over, which was frustrating.
"I was really in the groove, working well with Dale off the pace notes, not what I could see. I moved to a new level of commitment, getting my brain to operate at speed to compute in a split second. You don't get that on Day One.
"The 37 km Cethana stage was mind blowing.
"Tomorrow we will prove MINIs can move mountains and put the expensive exotics to shame. Mind you I don't have a head for heights, so I won't be looking down.
"I haven't done the massive 47 km Mount Arrowsmith stage before, but if today's any guide, we'll be quicker than ever. It's the racing driver's ultimate playground," Grant said.
Carsales network Publishing Director Mike Sinclair said staying just one step ahead of the rain through the day had worked for him.
"We could see the clouds, but most of our stages were dry when we went through. On South Riana late in the day we were 9th fastest overall, our highest stage finish this year (along with Nookville on Day One).
"I had a ball on Cethana, to me the best stage of the whole event. I was a full minute faster than last year. That's mostly due to the instructions from Bill and the careful recce we did before the event. I'm definitely stringing the corners together better.
"The Dunlops are still brand new which is a great help.
"We're on target for our top 30 finish, although there's still a long way to go.
"Wet or dry tomorrow, we're in good shape," Mike said.
The final day, Sunday covers 513 km of which 135 km is competitive stages, the longest driving day of the event.
In 2006, Team MINI finished the Targa Tasmania Rally 24th, 25th and 48th overall on debut.