TARGA 2020 for rookies

TARGA High Country 2020 Postponed

After the stunning success of running TARGA Great Barrier Reef last month in spite of the current COVID-19 restrictions, we have remained extremely hopeful of being able to run TARGA High Country in mid-November.  Unfortunately, Victoria is in a different situation to Queensland at the moment and with still uncertain signs on the horizon; along with a clear window of opportunity to simply move the event dates; we have today taken the decision to postpone the running of the 11th TARGA High Country to 5 to 7 February 2021.

Even though Victoria may be re-opened by mid-November, it is clear already that most other states will continue to insist on 14 days of quarantining for anyone who visits Victoria from another state, which severely hinders a number of people from attending this event.  In moving the date back, not weeks but months, it will give us the best opportunity to ensure that TARGA High Country will be as big as it has been over a number of years with more than 150 cars turning up to compete and another 50 enjoying the TARGA Tour experience.

Thank you to the many customers who have reached out since TARGA Great Barrier Reef to acknowledge our `against the odds’ delivery of our Cairns based event and if we had the same level of confidence in the COVID situation in Victoria, we would continue to push ahead with our plans.  The reality of greater confidence coming in 2021; which in turn will hopefully see more competitors able to attend; has made the decision at this point to postpone the event an obvious one.

With the event now pushed back a few months, we will re-open Early Bird entries until Midnight this Friday 9 October. Be sure to grab the discount this week, simply by entering and paying your deposit.  Entries will now close on 15 January 2021. We sincerely appreciate your ongoing support in what has been a very unique year for everyone.  A year that for TARGA has seen a cancellation, a successful running and now a postponement in the ever-changing landscape of COVID restrictions and border closures.

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TARGA Great Barrier Reef secured for three more years

Following on from the running of a successful TARGA Great Barrier Reef this month, a new three-year deal has been made with both state and local governments which secures the event’s future in Tropical North Queensland until at least 2023. 

The Cairns-based event started in 2018 and for much of 2020, the final year of the initial three-year government contract, it looked in doubt because of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis both in Australia and overseas.

But TARGA Australia managed to restructure its rally and the associated activities to pull off a COVID-compliant event warmly received by the competitors and the community.

TARGA Australia CEO, Mark Perry, said he was thrilled that the 2020 event had proceeded and delighted to know TARGA Great Barrier Reef had a strong future with the on-going commitment of both Tourism and Events Queensland and the Cairns Regional Council.

“The on-going support from Tourism and Events Queensland and the Cairns Regional Council is absolutely fantastic and allows us to continue to plan for the future,” Perry said.

“We are enormously grateful to the Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation, Kate Jones, and also to Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning.

“This region is the perfect location for an event like ours. Great roads, welcoming communities and the real ability to bring economic benefits to the regional areas around Cairns as well as to the city itself.

“There is no doubt getting the event in 2020 off the ground pushed us to the limit, but we were absolutely determined to do it,” Perry said.

“We had great support from the local volunteers and from our Queensland competitor base, and we even had a few from interstate go into quarantine just to make it to the start line.

“And the old adage that necessity is the mother of all invention made us look at things differently in 2020. As we were unable to run the highly successful TARGAFest on The Esplanade, we decided to take the cars to the people instead with the 27-kilometre TARGAcavalcade through the suburbs and the city.”

“That innovation has received rave reviews, so we will certainly look to keep it place for future as well as hopefully bringing TARGAfest back in 2021.”

“We can’t thank everyone enough for helping us keep TARGA Great Barrier Reef alive in 2020, and I’m absolutely convinced that the event has a big future.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the event had performed strongly over the past three years, delivering more than $3 million and 8700 visitor nights for local businesses in 2019.

“This government has a clear strategy to rebuild our economy and safeguard local jobs. Events will play an important part in our plan,” he said.

“Despite the impact of COVID-19, this year’s rally hosted hundreds of drivers and support crews from around Australia.

“Today I’m happy to confirm we’ve inked a deal to keep this event running – pumping millions of dollars into local businesses – from 2021 to 2023.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said motor rallies had huge appeal throughout Australia.

“No other tarmac motor rally race overlooks the Great Barrier Reef and takes in the amazing scenery of the Coral Sea coastline between Tully and Port Douglas,” she said.

“This event provide thousands of tourists yet another reason to come to the Far North.”

Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the organisation was delighted to extend its support to TARGA Great Barrier Reef.

“Cairns has a reputation for delivering world-class sporting events which will be crucial for the economic recovery of the region,” he said.

Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning, was also delighted that event will call his city home for an extended period.

“It is fantastic that Cairns will be home to the TARGA Great Barrier Reef tarmac rally for another three years,” Mayor Manning said.

“This Council is committed to supporting high profile and successful events that are of public interest, attract visitors to our region and lift community spirit.

“The value of events tourism – in particular sports tourism – cannot be understated, and the inclusion of TARGA Great Barrier Reef continues to build on our reputation as the home of dynamic and prized events.

“Over the past three years, this event has become a ‘must-do’ on the rally circuit and I am confident it will continue to grow; not surprising when you consider there is no other place in Australia offers such a breathtaking backdrop for such an iconic event.”

The 2021 running of TARGA Great Barrier Reef is set for September 3 to 5 next year, with the 2022 event scheduled for September 2 to 4 and 2023 for September 1 to 3.

Race for TARGA Championship points off and running

Competitors have banked their first allocation of points towards the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship following the maiden TARGA event of 2020, TARGA Great Barrier Reef in Cairns recently.

At the top of the leaderboard across the categories there is a mix of familiar and fresh faces.

Circuit and TARGA veteran Tony Quinn and co-driver Brian Foster are the leaders in Modern Outright following their all-the-way win in North Queensland in their 2018 Nissan GT-R.

They have accumulated 70 points to lead Modern Outright by seven points from Atherton Tablelands pair Andrew Horn and Sally Coning (1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V).

Quinn/Foster also have a seven point edge over Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis in GT Outright after the latter’s Mercedes AMG GT-R encountered a glitch which starved the supercar of producing full power in its TARGA debt.

Classic Outright sees Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i) in the lead from Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX-7) by seven points respectively.

The standings are the same for the Classic class as well.

The results were rich reward for the Melbourne pair who went to extraordinary lengths to gain exemptions and quarantine in the lead-up to the event which was hit with a depleted field due to the border restrictions.

In the other classes, well-known Sunshine Coast car collector Dan Bowden and co-driver Tiffanie Hepburn (1965 Ford Shelby Mustang) leads the standings in Classic GT on 70 points with Mark Griffith and Ryan Preston (1969 Datsun 1600 SSS) on 63 points following the non-finish of several leading competitors.

Cairns builder Steve Van der Brug and Linda Rankine (2009 Subaru WRX STi) are on top of the GT Production standings with 70 points, 7 ahead of fellow Cairns competitor Murray Young and Scott Griffin who debuted their 2012 BMW M3.

Following dramas on the final day, Bo Williams and Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3) eventually made it to the final time control to earn maximum points to lead the1993 Daihatsu Charade pair of Michael and Brian Walsh in Early Modern 2.

The Early Modern 4 standings see Andrew Horn and Sally Coning top the class on 70 points ahead of Gregg and Callum Taylor (2008 Subaru WRX) on 63 points.

The hard working combination of Darryl and Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute) lead TSD Trophy standings by seven points from Agim Selita and Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5).

Marshall and the BMW pair were locked in a tight battle on the final day, both conceding just two points each in the highly competitive class.

“We were trying a new timer in the car and were getting used to the way it counts down and it was a matter of fine-tuning. But we managed to find the sweet spot,” Darryl Marshall said.

The situation in the other trophy classes sees Wayne Udy and Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) lead GT Sports Trophy after their remarkable run at TARGA Great Barrier Reef where they were third outright. The pair are on 70 points with Rob Oshlack and Neysa Ellison (2017 Ford Focus RS), seven points back in second. While in Thoroughbred Trophy, Tim and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) claimed the maximum 70 points to lead Paul Frank and Leo Rodriguez 1988 Mazda RX-7 who earned 63 points.

The Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship will continue with Round 2 at TARGA High Country which will be based in Mansfield/Mt Buller in Victoria from November 13-15.

View the current points table here.

Imperious Quinn spears to Great Barrier Reef victory

Tony Quinn has stormed to a commanding win at the third edition of TARGA Great Barrier Reef in Cairns.

The experienced high profile Queensland businessman and co-driver Brian Foster mastered the 18-stage event to win by just over four minutes.

Quinn’s only realistic challenger, the Mercedes AMG GT R of Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis speared off on the second stage of the final day, suffering radiator damage.

While Anear rejoined the event with a patched-up Merc, it left the rapid and robust 2018 Nissan GT-R R35 with a commanding lead ahead of the final four stages of the popular tarmac rally.

Quinn was in supreme form when it counted on the final day by topping four of the six Tablelands tests to take the Outright win as well as the It’s Live in Queensland GT Outright classes.

“We just kept it nice and clean on the long stages today and the rest took care of itself,” Quinn, a two-times TARGA Tasmania winner, said.

“It is a real thrill to win TARGA Great Barrier Reef which is a great event that has a positive effect on the local community.

“The Nissan didn’t miss a beat over the three days and is really suited to the roads around Cairns.”

In an incredible outcome, the GT Trophy Class Lotus Exige of Wayne Udy and Mia Williams finished second Outright on top of easily winning their speed limited class.

Tony and Sandra Seymour were in second before their Lotus Exige stopped on the penultimate stage.

It left the remaining Outright podium position to be taken by Tablelands local Andrew Horn and Sally Coning in their 1998 Mitsubishi Evo V, a result that saw them take their Dutton Garage Early Modern 4 class.

For Quinn, who led from day one on Friday, it sealed a rare double after taking victory on the streets of Townsville’s Reid Park circuit the previous weekend in an Aston Martin.

While several of the top TARGA competitors were missing due to travel restrictions including the powerful Dodge Viper of Jason White, Quinn took full advantage by rifling through the final stages on the Tablelands.

With the Leg 2 withdrawals through mechanical issues of the Anthony Genocchio and Robert Horsfall and Jon and Gina Siddins machines, Shannons Classic GT was taken out by well-known Sunshine Coast car collector Dan Bowden.

The 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350 he shared with Tiffanie Hepburn landed the spoils in the popular category by more than three and a half minutes.

Shannons Classic Handicap duo of Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i) were never headed to lead from the outset and win the class by just over one minute.

The Victorian pair were richly rewarded for their efforts after undertaking the mandatory quarantine process in order to take their place in the field.

Cairns builder Steve Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine guided his 2009 Subaru WRX STi to victory in Cairns Regional Council GT Production by almost seven minutes over fellow Cairns competitor Murray Young and Scott Griffin (2012 BMW M3). Van der Brug was also fourth outright.

After an accident on the Millaa Milla  in their 2001 BMW M3, Darryl Marshall and co-driver Peter Marshall confirmed their standing as the masters of the points-based Cairns Regional Council TSD Trophy class.

Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute 250) built victory on minimising mistakes that limited his penalties to low single figures on each of the 18 tests.

In the end the Marshalls ended with 22 points, to beat Agim Selita and Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5)  who finished on 31 Points.

Tim and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) landed the honours in Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy.

Mercedes AMG GT R set for tropical TARGA tilt

The highly anticipated TARGA debut of the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R is set to ignite the sharp end of the field at the Cairns-based leg of the Championship from September 4 to 6.

Following sweeping changes to TARGA’S technical regulations for 2020, the hero of the AMG GT range will contest the GTO (outright) class for the first time in the high profile national tarmac rally competition.

Driver Luke Anear has taken the plunge in swapping the 2015 Subaru WRX, which he piloted to the 2019 Motorsport Australia GT4 Championship, for the technically advanced Mercedes.

Sourced by Launceston Mercedes dealer Buckby Motors, the GT R has been specifically redesigned and prepared for TARGA competition on challenging Australian roads.

Tasmanian Jason White, driver of TARGA’S most rapid weapon of recent seasons – the Dodge Viper, has constructed the rollcage for the Mercedes while Peter Nunn Motorsport has poured hundreds of hours of painstaking preparation into Anear’s new ride.

The GT R’s undercarriage has been completely replaced with acclaimed Dutch company Reiger’s suspension and dampers. 

“We sent over the original GT R suspension to Reiger in The Netherlands where they designed a whole new suspension and shock set-up,” Anear explained.

“This is the first time that Reiger has designed a suspension for an AMG GT R.

“I haven’t driven it with the new set-up yet so we will find out how it performs at TARGA Great Barrier Reef. The Reiger suspension will allow us to hit the bumps and jumps at speed.

“Peter Nunn Motorsport has done all the prep work on the car, spending hundreds of hours and Jason White took the roof off and built the roll cage.

“It was a big job by Whitey involving about 450 hours work to build a cage that fits right into the chassis of the car.”

Anear’s only handling of the car was a few runs at Tasmania’s Poatina Hillclimb event in early March when the GT R was sprung with its factory AMG-tuned suspension.

Regular co-driver Alan Stephenson is unable to make the journey from Sydney to North Queensland due to border restrictions with Anear confirming top Adelaide co-driver Andy Sarandis as his replacement.

The Anear/Stephenson combination won GT4 at TARGA Great Barrier Reef in 2019 and were classified in fourth outright behind Jason and John White (Viper) in outright standings.

Anear maintains he is committed to pushing the new machine to its limits.

“We don’t want to sit back and use this as a practice run.

“We will be going as quick as we can and see if we can put some good times in.

“It’s important we use this time to get as much data on the car and understand how it performs with tyre wear throughout the weekend.

“Whitey’s Viper has been the car to beat the last couple of years and he had a lot of speed and we know what his times are from this event last year.”

While the Viper has not been able to make the trip from Tasmania for TARGA Great Barrier Reef, the GTO list includes perennial TARGA competitor Tony Quinn and co-driver Brian Foster in a 2018 Nissan GT-R R35 and Queenslanders Tony and Sandra Seymour in a 2013 Lotus Exige.

Siddins primed to entertain at home state TARGA

Datsun Team 240z charger Jon Siddins is ready for a reversal of fortune in TARGA Great Barrier Reef to be held this week in Cairns from September 4 to 6.

Handling one of the crowd-pleasing machines of TARGA Classic GT competition, Siddins and co-driving wife Gina have arrived ahead of schedule for the popular Far North Queensland tarmac rally.

After being forced to miss the inaugural Cairns-based event in 2018, the Siddins duo are keen to make amends from a premature departure last year in their rapid 1970 Datsun 240Z.

The pair, based at Oxenford on the Gold Coast, had an off-course excursion on stage 9, the 6.85km North Johnstone test, in 2019 after performing solidly on the opening day. 

“The damage looked far worse than it really was,” Jon Siddins said.

“While the spoiler was beyond repair, the guards and bonnet just needed fibre-glass repairs and thankfully there was no damage underneath.”

The Siddins’ entry is one of the spearheads of the hugely popular Classic GT section which traditionally highlights some of the best machinery predominantly from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

“We headed off a week early and stopped in Townsville before driving on up to Cairns,” Gina Siddins said 

“We really want to support the Cairns region and the tourism there.

“As we’ve said to the organisers, we will do everything we can to promote the area and promote the event.”

Innisfail competitor Anthony Genocchio and co-driver Robert Horsfall finished second in the class last year in their 1983 Holden Commodore VH.

Genocchio finished just over three minutes astern of Classic GT star Mick Downey who has been unable to make the event this year from Victoria.

“It definitely helps knowing the roads up there and he (Genocchio) was strong last year so we will have to be on our game,” Jon Siddins said.

Recently the Siddins duo took the TARGA Z car and another Z to Morgan Park for separate track events.

“Jon took the TARGA Z up to Morgan Park for the inter-club Porsche challenge.

“We took another Z car up there for the sprints which has got 30 years worth of development in it.

“The set-up that Jon does is absolutely amazing. That car could drive itself around that track. 

“You can’t fathom how good the set-up is in the car’s that Jon prepares for TARGA and for the circuit.”

Quinn sets cracking pace in tropics

Experienced racer Tony Quinn has produced a storming start to set an early marker at TARGA Great Barrier Reef.

After departing the ceremonial start at the Reef Hotel & Casino, Quinn and co-driver Brian Foster mounted an immediate challenge in their Nissan GT-R R35.

Quinn, a double Targa Tasmania champion, launched his day by blitzing the consecutive Gillies Range and Lake Eacham stages, completing the day with a 37 second lead.

The ideal start from the canny Scottish expat continues his sizzling form that saw him a winner in an Aston Martin on the streets of Townsville the previous weekend.

Tony and Sandra Seymour maintained a solid day by claiming the Little Mulgrave stage win which helped the Lotus Exige crew stay within striking distance of the Nissan.

It was a strong TARGA debut for the stunning Mercedes AMG GT R with driver Luke Anear and co-driver Andy Sarandis ideally positioned to pounce.

Anear enters Day 2 third in outright and GTO classification with a promise of more pace to come from the Stuttgart-born supercar.

After a tense fight developed in Classic GT, Anthony Genocchio/Robert Horsfall (1983 Commodore VH Group III SS) speared to a comfortable lead following the final stage of the day.

The pair lead Gold Coast combination of Jon and Gina Siddins, in their beautifully presented 1970 Datsun 240Z by 11 seconds.

Cairns driver Steve Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine (2009 Subaru WRX STi) have a comfortable lead in GT Production.

Fellow Cairns competitor Murray Young, debuting his freshly acquired BMW M3, is second just under 2:30 seconds back.

Victorian pair Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i) have built a 1:49s lead in Classic Handicap over Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX7).

Bo Williams/Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3) are the sole survivors in Early Modern 2 while Andrew Horn and Sally Coning (1998 Mitsubishi Evo V) are 1:32sec ahead of Townsville-based Aaron Dunkerton and Brisbane’s Matt Davidson (2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII).

In the trophy classes, Wayne Udy and Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) lead GT Sports Trophy, the Thoroughbred Trophy sees Tim Hall and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) hold a commanding lead while TSD Trophy is headed by Darryl and Peter Marshall (Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute).

The competition moves south tomorrow with six stages based around the Cassowary Coast region starting with Bamboo Creek (5.5km) with the first competition cars set to start from 9am.

Results – end of day 1 of 3 (Provisional)

Outright
1 Tony Quinn/Brian Foster (2018 Nissan GT-R R35)
2 Tony Seymour/Sandra Seymour (2013 Lotus Exige) +37s
3 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2019 Mercedes AMG GT R) +52s
4 Wayne Udy/Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) +1:03s
5 Anthony Genocchio/Robert Horsfall (1983 Holden Commodore VH) +2:07s

It’s Live GT In Queensland GT Outright
1 Tony Quinn/Brian Foster (2018 Nissan GT-R R35)
2 Tony Seymour/Sandra Seymour (2013 Lotus Exige) +37s
3 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2019 Mercedes AMG GT R) +52s

Shannons Classic Handicap
1 Peter Gluskie/Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i)
2 Lindsay Stone/Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX7) +1:49s

Cairns Regional Council GT Production
1 Steve Van der Brug/Linda Rankine (2009 Subaru WRX STi)
2 Murray Young/Scott Griffin (2012 BMW M3) +3:58s

Shannons Classic GT
1 Anthony Genocchio/Robert Horsfall (1983 Holden Commodore VH) 
2 Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins (1970 Datsun 240Z) +11s
3 Mark Griffith/Ryan Preston (1969 Datsun 1600SSS) +1:09.16s

Dutton Garage Early Modern 2
1 Bo Williams/Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3)

Dutton Garage Early Modern 4
1 Andrew Horn/Sally Coning (1998 Mitsubishi Evo V)
2 Aaron Dunkerton/Matt Davidson (2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII) +1:32s
3 Graeme Colls/Sandra Colls (1997 Subaru WRX STi)  +1:50s

Reef Hotel & Casino GT Sports Trophy
1 Wayne Udy/Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) 
2 Gwesyn Dalliston/Rob Goodwin (2003 Nissan 350Z Track) +1:31s
3 Rob Oshlack/Neysa Ellison (2017 Ford Focus RS) +1:56s

Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy
1 Tim Hall/Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) 
2 Paul Frank/Leo Rodriguez (1988 Mazda RX7) +1:22.59s

Cairns Regional Council TSD Trophy
1 Darryl Marshall/Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute 250) 9 points
2 Agim Selita/Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5) 12 
3 Robert Nash/Keira Nash (2010 Lexus ISF) 68

Local driver ready for ‘TARGA’ fun ride

TARGA convert and Cairns builder Steve Van der Brug is eager for the field to blast off after months of frustration during the COVID-19 crisis.

Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine are among several leading contenders in the GT Production category in their Subaru WRX STI.

The Far North Queenslander has been bitten by the TARGA bug since the high profile national tarmac rally Championship first came to Cairns in 2018.

After competing in the four-round Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship last year, including the season-ending snow-hit High Country event at Mt Buller in Victoria, Van der Brug has been counting down the days to his home event.

“We were basically ready to go for Targa Tasmania a few months ago but with all the COVID stuff going on and border closures it just wasn’t possible for that event to go ahead,” Van der Brug said.

“It is a huge relief that TARGA is able to continue with Great Barrier Reef and now we just want to get in there and drive.”

While keen to be competitive, Van der Brug maintains that his passion for TARGA is all about the fun factor.

“We are just steady as she goes and we are there to have fun more than anything. Obviously the faster you go the more fun it is,” Van der Brug said.

Van der Brug is particularly looking forward to the second day of competition which will take the TARGA field to the Cassowary Coast region for the first time.

“There’s plenty of really nice stages. I went and had a look at Innisfail a couple of weeks ago which looks pretty interesting,” he said.

“Everyone is sports starved up here in Cairns so I’m sure the community is ready to get behind TARGA in a big way.”

Dunkerton steps out of the shadow

Prominent Cairns lawyer Aaron Dunkerton will fly the family name at the third edition of TARGA Great Barrier Reef from September 4 to 6.

Dunkerton will campaign the 2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII which was driven to a podium finish last year in the Early Modern class by his famous father, five-times Australian Rally Champion, Ross Dunkerton.

Dunkerton senior remains involved at TARGA Great Barrier Reef as the driver of the 0 car, which inspects the stages at speed ahead of the field being cleared to tackle the stage tests.

Aaron Dunkerton is excited at the prospects of stepping into the Evo which he feels should give him a decent shot at the Early Modern 4 category which is reserved for all-wheel-drive machinery.

“I drove the Subi (2006 WRX STi) last year and it is really a Group N gravel rally car,” Dunkerton said.

“The Evo should be a bit quicker because it is set-up for these type of competitions being a purpose-built tarmac car.”

In the Early Modern competition at the Cairns-based event last year the Dunkertons were engaged in a gripping fight, with Ross eventually prevailing by 44 seconds to claim third over his legal eagle son.

“For the first two days I was giving dad a hard time but then experience prevailed on the third leg,” Dunkerton said.

“Dad pipped me at the last minute but I think that was to be expected.”

Dunkerton, like the remainder of the TARGA family, has been eagerly looking forward for the discipline’s first event of the year.

“We’ve been counting down the days and it’s great the event is running when so many others aren’t,” he said.

“The Evo is ready to rumble so fingers crossed we will have a good run. I’ve just got to make sure I don’t bend it.”

Dunkerton’s co-driver from last year, Matt Davidson, will make the journey north from Brisbane to call the pace notes in the 18-stage event that will see the second day of stages embrace the Cassowary Coast region for the first time.