TARMAC: Team MINI Targa Tasmania finale notes

Team MINI at Targa, Day 5: Stokell 9th, Denyer 20th, Sinclair 40th overall. Team MINI Financial Services scored a giant-killing result at the 2007 Pure Tasmania Targa Tasmania Rally that ended in Hobart tonight. Tasmanian-born and bred ...

Team MINI at Targa, Day 5: Stokell 9th, Denyer 20th, Sinclair 40th overall.

Team MINI Financial Services scored a giant-killing result at the 2007 Pure Tasmania Targa Tasmania Rally that ended in Hobart tonight.

Tasmanian-born and bred Australian drivers' champion Paul Stokell navigated by 15-time Targa veteran Peter Burrey, brought the aptly liveried Tasmanian Tiger MINI "Houdini" home in 9th place, ahead of leading rally driver Rick Bates in a far more powerful Mazda 3 MPS.

The position secured first place home for a front-wheel drive car for Stokell, and third in the CM2 class behind the overall winners and third place-getters.

Stokell also took sixth fastest overall on the famed and feared 47 km Mount Arrowsmith Stage, an amazing feat for a 1.6-litre supercharged front-wheel drive car.

In a day of drama, Stokell ran as high as eighth overall as the slippery conditions became more unpredictable as the longest day of the Targa Rally wore on.

The sensational 9th position for Stokell driving essentially a standard road-going production MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works, was won as the car overhauled a plethora of far more expensive, exotic and powerful supercars, 4WD rally cars and one-off-rally specials; truly a David vs Goliath effort.

"I'm truly excited to finish this well," Paul Stokell said. "I'm so impressed with the car. I thought a top 20 finish would be good, but to be in the top 10 is amazing. The car handled well and stopped well all event. And we brought it home without a scratch on it.

"Today was great. We kept the flow going all day, keeping corner speeds up. To go sixth fastest on Arrowsmith is an achievement, especially as it was damp and the car was moving around.

"We had to drive on the limit, but it was very enjoyable."

"We had an entertaining dice all rally long with the Mazda," said Peter Burrey. "It spurred us on, but Paul is such a great driver we did not have one (worrying) moment on the whole rally. Before the recce for the event we'd never been in a car together so we had to get used to each other, but half way in we were both comfortable with the driving and the note calling and we really pressed on."

"We did over shoot one corner and we had a fast car coming up behind us but Paul stayed calm and composed and didn't try too hard to make up the time, so we stayed on the road.

"Last year I was running third until the last stage and ended up fifth so I didn't want a repeat. When we got onto Arrowsmith, Paul was right into it and we made very good time," Peter said.

For the other Team MINI runners, Grant Denyer and Dale Moscatt in the MINI Cheetah and Mike Sinclair and Bill Hayes in Monte the MINI python, Day Five will be rued for what might have been.

Both drivers clipped a water barrier at a chicane and copped a five minute penalty each, a massive burden that was impossible to overcome.

As a result, Denyer/Moscatt finished 20th overall after running close to the top ten through the morning stages, and Sinclair/Hayes dropped from near the top 20 to 40th overall.

Both Denyer and Stokell clean sheeted the 17 km Rosebery Stage, attracting no time penalties, a testament to their road speed.

"I was desperate to make up time I lost on Day 2 due to filming commitments for the Grand Final of "Australia's Got Talent," said Grant.

"I was going so hard and we nudged the barrier in the chicane. From then on we threw caution to the wind trying to get back into contention.

"TV will take a backseat when Targa comes around next time, I can promise you," Grant said.

Dale Moscatt, Grant's navigator said the cancellation of the Strahan stage cost the pair the opportunity to pull more time back on their rivals.

"We started so well and we were certainly faster than our rivals on the stages leading up to Strahan, we were very fast on Rosebery. We couldn't afford to be anything than fully committed all day. It's just a shame about the barrier."

Mike Sinclair was also nursing a bad case of snake bite after Monte the MINI python nibbled the same chicane earning a five minute penalty.

"We also had to stop on Mount Arrowsmith to render assistance at an accident scene, so coupled with the slippery roads, and the downgrading of the Strahan stage where we went really well, it was certainly a day of mixed fortunes for us," Mike said.

"The MINI was incredible, thought. It is still so fresh we could do the event again tomorrow. It never missed a beat and did a better job than most. Bill was great. We're a young team and he brought plenty of experience along to help us out.

"But for the chicane we would have been well inside the top 20," Mike said.

"Team MINI secured a sensational result today," said Justin Hocevar, National Manager MINI.

"This is the second year we have taken part and both times we brought all three cars home in one piece. They performed with consummate reliability and consistency and were driven extremely hard.

"I'm delighted that Paul and Peter finished inside the top ten. It's a tribute to the performance, handling, brakes and steering of the MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works car that it is able to race 2,000 km and not miss a beat.

"To be the first front-wheel drive car home two years in a row is a feat in itself, especially because this year we faced stiff competition from a significantly more powerful rival.

"The MINI Financial Services backed MINI Cheetah, Houdini the Tasmanian Tiger and Monte the MINI Python were well up to the challenge of Targa," Justin said.

Team MINI's next engagement is Targa West in Perth later in the year, followed by the Mount Buller Sprint.

Subject to further discussion with relevant motorsport authorities, MINI plans to launch a one make circuit racing series in Australia next year, based on the European MINI Challenge Series. This will use the new generation MINI hardtop racer as its base.

-credit: mini

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Series Other rally
Drivers Grant Denyer , Paul Stokell , John Cooper , Dale Moscatt , Bill Hayes , Mike Sinclair