TARGA Australia will continue to work with Motorsport Australia following that organisation’s decision to suspend issuing permits for any Targa style tarmac rally events.
The suspension follows the tragic death of a competitor, Tony Seymour, during the recent 2022 TARGA Tasmania.
Motorsport Australia’s Targa Review Panel, which was instigated after the loss of lives at TARGA Tasmania in 2021, will investigate the latest incident and make further recommendations on the future of Targa style tarmac rallies.
TARGA Australia CEO, Mark Perry, said his organisation would cooperate fully with the Review Panel and Motorsport Australia to ensure the future of its three events – Targa Tasmania, Targa High Country and Targa Great Barrier Reef.
TARGA West in Western Australia and the Adelaide Rally are also subject to the Motorsport Australia suspension.
“The loss of Tony at Targa this year was a tragedy and our heartfelt condolences go to his family and friends who continue to feel his loss,” Perry said.
“This is a time for further reflection and we will work with Motorsport Australia to ensure our sport has a bright future.”
“This was the 30th running of TARGA Tasmania, and it has such a special place in our state, and has led to the successful creation of events in Queensland and Victoria.”
As this matter is now subject to the Review Panel’s work, and is before the coroner, TARGA Australia will not be making any further statements.
Competitors complete shakedown ahead of TARGA Tasmania
Some of the key teams have topped off preparations for the 30th anniversary TARGA Tasmania with several hours of shakedown laps at Symmons Plains racetrack south of Launceston.
A decent spread of entries from the 10 classes put their machines through their paces on a day where lucky punters were also chauffeured around as passengers on hot laps.
Among the entries gunning for Outright honours cutting laps at the 2.4km circuit were seven-times TT winners Jason and John White (Dodge Viper), Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R), Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler (Nissan GT-R) and defending TT champs Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey (Dodger Viper).
The track day was the final chance for crews to fine-tune set-ups and iron-out any bugs ahead of the world’s best and most demanding tarmac rally which starts on Tuesday.
While the day went largely without incident, Maguire’s Viper suffered a differential failure late in the session.
The problem surfaced after Maguire outlined that the Viper had undergone a freshen-up since the successful campaign at TT last year.
Among changes to the American machine is a new engine, driveline, brake and electronics refinements.
The team were confident the car will be repaired tonight after sourcing a part from Melbourne.
“The output shaft on the differential broke but the spare will arrive in time for us to fix it tonight,” Maguire explained.
“We are quite stoked that the problem happened today rather than on the first day of competition on Tuesday.
“It has also brought to our attention a problem we weren’t aware of.”
Maguire confirmed his team had gone for a different brake package to withstand the punishment over the six-day event.
“One of the only new updates has been the brakes,” Maguire said.
“We have swapped out the carbon ceramic brakes and have gone for the AP system with steel rotors.
“Hopefully we can get a bit more performance out of these.
“They should be a lot more durable.
“There have also been some refinements to the traction control system.”
Almost 500 cars have entered the milestone event across 10 classes with the first of 34 competitive stages set for Tuesday.
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History beckons for TARGA greats
Jason and John White are shining examples of how grit, determination and talent have enabled them to keep pace with the evolution of TARGA Tasmania.
Over the years, the Devonport nephew and uncle have risen to the challenge of various rule changes by conquering the great tarmac rally in machinery ranging from Nissans, Lamborghinis and Dodge Vipers.
The Whites are at the precipice of a record-equalling eighth Outright triumph at the iconic Tasmanian event when the 30th anniversary tarmac rally starts from April 26 to May 1.
On the surface, matching the benchmark set by Jim Richards and Barry Oliver will be remarkable.
However, it is how the Whites have overcome adversity and significant technical rule changes that makes their story all the more compelling.
Their maiden TARGA Tasmania win arrived in 2005 when all-wheel-drive cars could fight for Outright honours as they guided their troublesome Nissan R34 GT-R home first.
They then switched machinery when an opportunity arose to buy a wrecked Lamborghini Gallardo which they ultimately steered to TARGA Tasmania wins in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
But when the rules meant that all-wheel-drive powertrains could no longer fight for Outright honours, the Whites took the plunge to campaign a powerful rear-wheel-drive Dodge Viper which has supplied them with TARGA Tasmania wins in 2017 and 2018.
Switching from the flamboyant Italian supercar to American muscle also meant huge challenges for their headquarters in Tasmania’s north as machinery and development had to undergo a considerable change.
Co-driver John White is the owner of the globally acclaimed company Delta Hydraulics which manufactures hydraulic cylinders from its base in Devonport and which also has a factory in Thailand.
White says it is part of the family make-up to rise to challenges.
“You are given a challenge you rise to the occasion,” John White said.
“The rules have changed over the years and it’s just part of the challenge.
“It is what it’s going to be and you just have to adapt to stay within the rules and find improvement in other areas.
“The effort you put into developing a car and finally get it to a position where it’s reliable is huge.”
Ahead of their first TARGA Tasmania win in the Nissan, the Whites were flummoxed by the Skyline’s trait of blowing engines until they found the root cause of the problem.
“We blew four or five engines in the Nissan until we discovered there was a problem with the wall thickness of cylinder No 6 where it was 8mm on one side and 3mm on the other side.
“Under stress it was going out of round and it was cracking in the 3mm section.
“The effort we put into getting that vehicle to a spot where it was reliable and would finish an event was massive.
“Then it had passed its due date by then and consequently we knew that we had to move on.”
Enter the Lamborghini Gallardo, a V10-powered pocket rocket, which fed its considerable grunt to all four wheels.
“Circumstances allowed us to switch to the Lambo that (Paul) Stokell drove in the event we won (2005),” White explained.
“It became available and we got that at a discount price after Stokell crashed the car which allowed us to enter a very expensive vehicle into a TARGA event.”
“We had a little bit of a problem with fire with that vehicle for some reason. But we managed to rebuild it after the fire during TARGA Wrest Point in 2014 and we managed to win again.
“But then the rules changed again and the four-wheel-drive cars became also-rans.
“So if you wanted to win TARGA you had to be in a two-wheel-drive and that’s when we put the Lambo up on the shelf and purchased the Viper.”
While the success of the Viper in such a demanding test like TARGA Tasmania with its technically challenging mix of tight, twisty and flowing roads has astounded some, White is less surprised.
“We haven’t been surprised at the success we have had in the Viper.
“A lot of the electronics have progressed dramatically over the last 10 years.
“The stability we have now with traction control is far, far superior to what it was in the past and hand-in-hand is ABS (anti-lock braking).
“The ability to extract maximum performance from a two-wheel-drive car has been enhanced by the evolution of electronics.
“We have certainly been able to match it with everything else that has been brought out at the moment such as the Mercedes (AMG GT R) and the Porsches etc.
“I think there is still a couple of years left in the Viper.”
The combination of Jason White behind the wheel with John calling the notes has worked well for nearly two decades.
“We have been in an era in the last 15 to 20 years where there are a lot of competitive cars and I really believe Jason has done an incredible job to drive as well as he has under tremendous pressure.”
John White has been vital in keeping the family at the forefront of TARGA’s evolutionary phase.
“It (the TARGA campaign) wouldn’t be happening without the help of Delta Hydraulics.
“I’m in the fortunate position that I’ve got a successful operation here that manages to come up with the funding each year to be able to do it.
“TARGA Tasmania is an incredible event on a world scale and we can’t wait to compete again.”
TARGA Tasmania is part of the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship that includes TARGA Great Barrier Reef and TARGA High Country.
For more information including spectator and road closures head to targa.com.au
Safety measures implemented for TARGA Tasmania
TARGA Tasmania has undergone a major safety review after recommendations released by Motorsport Australia’s Investigatory Tribunal being implemented for the 30th anniversary event from April 26 to May 1.
TARGA has moved to implement all 17 recommendations that fall within its remit while the remaining six are being addressed by Motorsport Australia.
Of those, all but two of the recommendations – numbered 9 and 11 and involving car set-up and licencing – will be in place for this event with the others remaining work in progress.
Motorsport Australia and its Tarmac Rally Working Group are regularly meeting to discuss those recommendations and implement necessary changes, together with TARGA organisers. Motorsport Australia continue to educate competitors across a range of topics regarding vehicle set up and eligibility, including for TARGA Tasmania.
In regard to the new licencing system, it has been noted by Motorsport Australia that this is a complicated process and any long term impacts need to be considered. The intention for the licencing changes was that these changes would be introduced in a phased approach.
TARGA fully cooperated with the Tribunal that was set-up following the tragic deaths of competitors Shane Navin, Leigh Mundy and Dennis Neagle at the event last year.
Following the exhaustive investigation, the recommendations included a cap on maximum speeds of 200km/h for the top categories, an allocation of four wet weather tyres in addition to the maximum of six tyres for each car, along with course design changes and ensuring cars are fit for purpose.
TARGA has already conducted two events (Great Barrier Reef last September in Cairns and High Country at Mt Buller in February) with some of the recommendations in place ahead of the recommendations being met for TARGA Tasmania.
The Tribunal was Chaired by Australian Institute of Motorsport Safety (AIMSS) head Garry Connelly AM, with Matt Selley and Neal Bates as tribunes.
Importantly, TARGA will also move to tighten-up requirements for competitors to enter the top category, GT Outright, by mandating a superlicence-style system similar to those established in Supercars and Formula 1 from next year.
“Anybody new to the competition will no longer be able to go straight into the Outright class,” TARGA chief executive Mark Perry said.
“One of the points to come out of the recommendations is that you can’t come into a full competition for your first event and you can’t come into full competition at TARGA Tasmania even if you have done a speed limited class at another event.
“So at TARGA Tas you have to do a speed limited class to start the process of progressing through the system.
“For full competition in future you will have to have a Superlicence, a bit like Supercars, to actually do it.
“Over the next three or four years it will mean that you will see your best 20 drivers in the 20 best cars and they will be the only ones allowed in the Outright class.
“So it will look a bit like the World Rally Championship. Everybody else in the event will be doing speed limited (maximum of 130km/h) or involved in the popular touring groups which are speed restricted and not timed.
“Older drivers or people just coming in for the first time, those days are done.
“And that is where GT Sports Trophy is going to grow even more because anyone new will now have to go through that competition structure to get into the full competition.”
TARGA Tasmania involves 10 different competition categories in a six-day tarmac rally which encompasses 35 stages across the length and breadth of the island state.
For full event details about the bumper 30th anniversary TARGA Tasmania including road closures and spectator information head to targa.com.au.
TARGA’S exciting vision for the next decade
While the automotive world is on the precipice of huge technical change, TARGA has confirmed that full-blown competition will remain the core value of its blue riband Tasmanian event in future.
A view into what the next 10 years looks like will see huge innovation across the TARGA events however the sport’s most senior official has moved to allay any concern that motorsport will become less of a priority.
“I can reassure the competitor base that looking into the crystal ball, motorsport will remain at the heart of the TARGA DNA,” TARGA chief executive Mark Perry said.
“That is not going to change in the next 10 years.”
“But what you will see is the continued growth of the speed-limited categories, like GT Sports, plus those just wanting a TARGA experience in the Tour categories.
“This is already happening. In 2022 we will have nearly 300 cars in the Tour, which is great for the event and great for the economic impact that comes with it,” Perry said.
“What you will also see is the introduction of the 21st century generation cars, i.e. primarily EV but not just electric cars, hydrogen, solar and all the different forms of propulsion.”
Many of the world’s leading manufacturers are committed to EV technology and hydrogen fuel cell cars remain firmly in focus for some brands.
Already Korean giant Hyundai has announced it will spearhead a push into the electric vehicle component of TARGA Tasmania next year, and will dip its toes in the water at the 30th anniversary event by entering a Genesis GV60 EV as part of the non-competitive tour section.
All of this technology outside petrol and diesel engines is headed to TARGA within the next 10 years.
Along with many manufacturers, Hyundai, as well as having the EV Genesis G60 up and about, has other electrification examples growing with its IONIQ 5 rapid-charging model claiming a range of up to 450km and a 10-80 percent recharge in less than 20 minutes while it is also showcasing the NEXO, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell SUV.
Porsche recently indicated that by 2025 half of all-new sales will come from either full electric or plug-in hybrid while by 2030 the share of all-electric drive will be more than 80 percent of all new vehicle sales.
“I’m not saying we are getting out of petrol cars but at some point it is going to manifestly change,” Perry says.
“There will be a lot more touring and speed limited but I don’t think there will be less racing.
“I think people need to recognise that motorsport will remain our heart and soul.”
TARGA’s willingness to explore new future mobility powertrains opens up a window to a Le Mans-style Garage 56 concept.
“The Garage 56 analogy nails it, because we mightn’t have enough uptake with electric vehicles to have a full-blown competition,” Perry said.
“So what we are doing with Hyundai is for example; is they are bringing down their Genesis brand EV to showcase it and ultimately they want to compete in the next generation cars.
“We’ve done that a few times over the years like Mazda had their RX-8 SP petrol car which we let race as a showcase car, much like a Garage 56 idea.
“There is no denying that great change is already here.
“We are now working with the office of climate change which 10 years ago we would never have done.”
TARGA, according to Perry, will remain a leading tarmac rally but it will also be a mobile exhibition for new technology.
“We don’t want to be seen as a cavalcade of motoring history, we need to be seen to be moving forward and not living in the past.
“So we need to be a mobile showcase for the future as opposed to a showcase for the past.”
“There will definitely be EV tour cars, so with EV tour cars they need to have their own unique course because charging and distance will play out differently for them.
“Because of the technology that RallySafe tracking system can give us, you can run multiple courses at once if you want to.
“That’s where the events will evolve, you will have cars on the east coast and the west coast at the same time. That’s where our 10-year vision is.”
“It is exciting that an event already 30 years old is facing such a bright future.”
The 30th Anniversary TARGA Tasmania will take place from April 26 to May 1.
Hyundai embarks on EV mission at TARGA Tasmania
Korean giant Hyundai has announced it will spearhead a push into the electric vehicle component of TARGA Tasmania next year.
As part of the exciting plan, Hyundai will dip its toes in the water at the 30th anniversary TARGA Tasmania from April 26 to May 1 by entering a Genesis GV60 EV as part of the non-competitive tour section of the famed tarmac rally.
The South Korean automaker will dispatch a crew of seven for what will be a reconnaissance mission ahead of entry into the newly formed EV category in 2023.
In an exciting development for the TARGA brand, Hyundai is sending a group of engineers and observers who will oversee the performance of the Genesis luxury electric vehicle at TT30.
Hyundai aims to evaluate the EV consumption of the Genesis and gain knowledge on the battery regeneration through the demanding and varied stages.
The Genesis will be driven by top rally driver Brendan Reeves who will be supported by Mark Stacey, who gained tremendous success in gravel rallies with the late Possum Bourne, as well as experienced rally man Philip Rogers.
“We are delighted that Hyundai has shown serious interest in TARGA and cannot wait to see the Genesis in action in the EV class next year,” TARGA chief executive Mark Perry said.
“We are looking forward to a growing number of electric vehicles taking part in TARGA and we expect that a lot of manufacturers will want to test their machines at what is an exciting phase of TARGA’s future.
“Hyundai are taking the first step and the future looks bright.”
Hyundai recently reaped a bonanza with their IONIQ 5 electric vehicle which was voted overall World Car of the Year, World Electric Vehicle of the Year and World Car Design of the Year at the highly acclaimed 2022 World Car Awards.
The IONIQ 5 is the first model in Hyundai’s dedicated EV line-up brand.
TARGA Tasmania secures key backing from Bosch Motorsport
The Motorsport arm of automotive electronics heavyweight Bosch has joined TARGA Tasmania as an official partner.
The sponsorship coincides with an important milestone for the world’s most highly regarded tarmac rally which celebrates its 30th anniversary from April 26 to May 1.
As part of the arrangement Bosch will attach its name to the official finish at Princes Wharf 1 in Hobart which will be known as the Bosch Motorsport Official Finish.
Gavin Smith, President and Chairman of Bosch Australia, said the adjustable ABS which Bosch develops is crucial for the varied challenges created by Tasmania’s unique roads.
“As a past TARGA Tasmania competitor, I have a personal appreciation for how gruelling this event is, and what it takes to not only finish, but to finish well,” Mr Smith said.
“With the extreme variety of road surfaces and weather conditions across the six days, Bosch’s in-car adjustable Motorsport ABS will give competitors using it an important edge. I wouldn’t want to compete without it.”
Bosch is highly regarded in global motorsport which includes Formula One and the time-honoured Le Mans 24-Hour sports car race in France.
“Bosch Motorsport has been providing high performance components to all levels of motorsport since 1901, and we’re excited to be adding TARGA to the long list of categories we have directly supported, which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Formula One,” Bosch Motorsport Australia’s Blake Jones said.
“We hope to showcase the market-leading performance and reliability which have established Bosch Motorsport’s electronics and fuel delivery as the choice of factory race teams across Europe, Asia and America.
“We look forward to meeting Australian competitors at all three TARGA competition events this year and discussing how their vehicle performance can be further optimised with Bosch Motorsport’s cutting edge technology.”
TARGA chief executive Mark Perry says Bosch Motorsport joining TARGA as an official partner solidifies the high standing the event has among the international motorsport community.
“We are indeed honoured that Bosch Motorsport have jumped on board and we look forward to a successful partnership with such a significant brand,” Perry said.
“This partnership shows the faith a company as well respected as Bosch has in our product which is entering an exciting new phase as we celebrated 30 years of our signature event, TARGA Tasmania.”
More information including road closures and the comprehensive Spectator’s Guide can be found at targa.com.au
Media contact details Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995
Memorable machines of the last 15 years of TARGA Tasmania
TARGA Tasmania has lured some incredible machines to the island state over the years.
There have been sublime showroom classics, supreme exotic supercars, museum masterpieces – all beasts in their own right.
Perhaps the biggest beast of them all was Eric Bana’s 1974 XB Falcon.
It featured in the brilliant film Love The Beast which focused on Bana’s effort to rebuild the car for a second time so it could compete at TARGA Tasmania in 2007.
Bana regrettably crashed the Falcon coupe during the event and while he and co-driver Tony Ramunno escaped injury, the car suffered major chassis, suspension and panel damage.
All these years later, the film that was released two years after Bana’s crash has left a phenomenal legacy on TARGA.
While the XB coupe may not make the list of the greatest cars to have competed in the iconic tarmac rally, the list of magnificent machines from the last 15 years, considered the ‘modern era’ of TARGA, is impressive.
One of the most evocative and successful examples within the aforementioned time parameter is the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
This low-slung Italian super coupe, powered by a viscerally screeching V10 powerplant became the weapon of choice for Devonport aces Jason White and his uncle and co-driver John.
While the Whites debuted the potent Lambo in 2006, they had to wait patiently until success finally arrived for the Bologna brand for the first time in 2010.
It would be the first of four overall TARGA wins for the Whites in Lamborghini Gallardo machinery with the others coming in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
The four wins in the all-paw Gallardo came following the White’s maiden TARGA Tasmania win in a Nissan Skyline GT-R in 2005.
With the changing rules of eligibility keeping entrants on their toes, the Whites would take a huge risk and decide to end their hugely successful association with the Italian supercar.
Enter what would become one of the most potent weapons in tarmac rallying, the Dodge Viper ACR Extreme.
The Whites would fail to finish on debut in the American muscle car however they would claim the 2017 and 2018 TARGA Tasmania events as they refined the Viper to become a somewhat surprising force in the world’s ultimate tarmac rally.
Another Viper would soar to the giddy heights of TARGA Tasmania supremacy when locals Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey took the overall win in 2021.
There have been many great cars which have been lured into the Classic component of TARGA.
At the head of the list is Rex Broadbent in his 1974 Porsche Carrera 911 RS, driving clearly the most dominant classic car.
After winning his first Classic outright competition in 2002, Broadbent would rattle off wins in the Porsche from 2007 to 2012, a stunning stretch of unbeaten runs which puts the 70’s spec Zuffenhausen product as one of the most important TARGA machines of the past 15 years.
Also worthy of mention is the legendary German rally driver Walter Rohrl, who with co-driver Christian Geistdorfer campaigned the 1981 Porsche San Remo 911 SC at TARGA in 2011.
The Porsche was the same car which Rohrl was on the cusp of victory at the 1981 World Rally Championship San Remo event only for the driveshaft to fail.
Another key Porsche, the 356 B Carrera Abarth worth in excess of $1 million, a car which helped cut a path to greatness for the manufacturer in GT racing, took part in the 2009 TARGA event, at the hands of Porsche Museum director Klaus Bischof.
Classic cars of significance include Steve and Rachel Coad’s 1971 HQ Monaro, the 1948 Holden 48-215 of Paul and Christine Freestone and Len Cattlin’s menacing orange-hued Ford Boss Mustang.
Furthermore there are quite a few honourable mentions of machines and while not in the competition proper, they have no less had an impact on the event.
Some of these are the Pagani Zonda C12S roadster which acted as the official sweep car in 2008. At the time it was the only legally registered one of its type in Australia and was valued at more than $1.5 million.
A $2.5 million McLaren P1 was used as the course car at the 25th anniversary TARGA in 2016 and other notable supercars have been a $4.2 million LaFerrari and a $2.2 million Senna McLaren.
And as TARGA looks to usher in a new class for Electric Vehicles, it is important to remember the first Tesla roadsters to be let loose in Australia were involved in the 2011 event in touring and a new green class which remains a pioneering moment in TARGA’s heritage.
The 30th anniversary TARGA Tasmania, which will take place from April 26 to May 1 this year will feature nearly 500 vehicles, providing something for every motoring enthusiast to watch.
For further information, including road closures, please go to www.targa.com.au.
Denyer confirmed for Duttons-backed TT30 tilt
Dancing With The Stars winner and accomplished racer, Grant Denyer, will make his long-awaited return to tarmac rallying at the showcase 30th Anniversary TARGA Tasmania from April 26 to May 1.
And carsales is along for the ride.
Denyer will compete in a two-car Subaru WRX STi operation with key sponsorship from TARGA custodians, Dutton Group.
The second Duttons-backed WRX will be driven by carsales Editor in Chief and Director of Content, Mike Sinclair.
Sinclair and Denyer were team-mates at TARGA Tasmania in 2015 when the latter was second in the Showroom class in a Renault Megane. Sinclair last raced at TARGA in 2016 and finished just off the podium in the then newly-created, premium GT category – also in a Renault.
For 2022, Denyer will be joined by experienced co-driver Ben Searcy. Sinclair will race with two-times TARGA winner, Julia Barkley.
The pair of Duttons WRXs will compete in the GT Production category.
With TARGA’s 2022 rule changes, which includes a cap on top speeds, the all-wheel drive Subarus are expected to be more competitive against the GT Outright supercars.
The 30th Anniversary TARGATasmania (TT30) will encompass more than 600km of competitive, closed roads across 35 stages.
“My first TARGA was in 2006, when I won Dancing With The Stars the first time,” Denyer said.
“I’ve had a few first and second places in the event over the years but to come back 16 years later for TT30 with another mirror ball trophy under my arm is an incredible feeling.
“I might glue it to the bonnet as a hood ornament! It’s pretty special,” the former V8 Supercars rookie-of-the-year stated.
Denyer, who is scheduled to drive at both the Bathurst 6-Hour production car and 12-Hour sportscar events this year, said TARGA Tasmania holds a special place in his heart.
“TARGA Tasmania is hands down my favourite motorsport event,” Denyer beamed.
“The spectacular Tasmanian wilderness, world class roads and a gorgeous motor vehicle underneath you is rev-head nirvana. It just doesn’t get any better.”
TARGA chief executive Mark Perry says the news of Denyer’s inclusion is another boost to TT30 event that is bristling with talent.
“Grant Denyer is a good friend of the Targa family and is vastly experienced having competed in our signature rally many times in the past,” Perry said.
“It’s great to have Mike back as well. 2022 will be his eighth TARGA.”
“We are excited to have Grant and Mike in the field in well prepared cars with primary backing from our owners, the Dutton Group,” Perry stated.
For further information about the event, including road closure information, go totarga.com.au.
TARGA Tasmania – the last 15 years
There has been significant evolution in the fabric of TARGA Tasmania over the last 15 years starting with sweeping changes to the class structure.
Among a myriad of changes in 2007 were the introduction of the Rookie Rallye for Classic and Modern classes.
Back then the Classic title was taken out by the hugely popular Adrian Morrisby (who sadly passed away last year) while the Modern Rookie title was won by five-times Australian Rally Champion Ross Dunkerton.
The face of TARGA was undergoing sweeping changes in the composition of the categories and the 2007 event would also thrust the international spotlight on Tasmania through unprecedented exposure.
Acclaimed Australian actor and motoring devotee Eric Bana entered 2007 in the Classic section with his ride being the 1974 Ford Coupe he had owned since he was 15.
Bana misjudged a left-hand corner on the Cethana stage in Tasmania’s north-west with the exquisitely prepared two-door suffering steering and suspension damage as well as considerable panel damage.
Bana and his co-driver Tony Ramunno escaped unhurt in what was a nasty shunt into trees.
The 2007 TARGA Tasmania campaign was the focus of the brilliant documentary, Love The Beast, directed by Bana which was released in 2009.
While a touch of Hollywood lifted TARGA to new highs, the competition on track was also reaching unprecedented levels.
A ninth outright win for Richards and Oliver was denied in 2008 when the rapid Steve Glenney and top co-driver Bernie Webb snared victory in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX RS, which to date remains the only outright triumph for the three-diamond badge.
There was to be another crew to experience the exultation of a first-time TARGA victory with the Queensland entrepreneur Tony Quinn lifting the prize in 2009 with Naomi Tillett in a Nissan GT-R.
In 2010, Jason and John White would continue to gather momentum on the honor board by spearing to their second outright win and their first time in a Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale.
Quinn and Tillett repeated their 2009 success in 2011 as the TARGA story continued to showcase incredible battles in a mouth-watering array of machines.
With now 20 years in the record books, the 2012 TARGA Tasmania was bursting with 220 entries which saw huge changes to the route.
Just 40 percent of the course carried over from the previous year, offering fresh mental and physical challenges.
Officials moved to test entrants by plotting a course which totalled more than 600km of gruelling competitive stages, the longest and most demanding in the event’s history.
Devonport driver Jason White and his uncle John White were searching for a third outright victory. The Whites campaigned a Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale.
Defending champions Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett would commandeer a new Nissan GT-R with more power and beefed up suspension.
A day before the competition started the Whites suffered an engine failure in the Gallardo during a ride day for punters.
Returning to Devonport, a replacement engine was installed at the 11th hour and the Whites were back in action.
By the end of the third day the Whites had scampered to a lead of just under two minutes ahead of Quinn and Tillett.
The Lamborghini then developed an electrical problem but it was soon sorted and the Whites charged on, eventually winning by 2min27secs over Quinn and Tillett.
The Whites stormed to victory in 2013, their fourth outright title.
The following year saw a change at the top with Jamie Vandenberg and Dennis Sims guiding their Nissan GT-R to a decisive win.
While the record books show the winning margin to be 4min44sec, it was a dramatic turn of events late in the event that saw Matt Close narrow the gap.
But Close’s run cruelly ended when he crashed on the penultimate stage of the rally.
Vandenberg then miraculously limped home after smoke began pouring from the exhaust of the Nissan with one stage remaining, the result hanging in the balance until the bitter end.
The Whites won a fifth crown in 2015 in the Lamborghini, which was to be their final triumph in the Italian supercar.
There was salvation finally for Matt Close in 2016 who alongside Cameron Reeves guided his Porsche 911 GT3 to a much deserved victory.
Now campaigning American muscle, Jason and John White claimed back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018 in a Dodge Viper, the latter victory moving them to an astonishing seven outright TARGA Tasmania victories, one short of record-holders Jim Richards and Barry Oliver.
It was a real David v Goliath battle in 2019 with highly decorated circuit racer and Tasmanian-born Paul Stokell releasing a lifelong dream by guiding his Lotus Exige Sport 350 to the outright win alongside top co-driver Kate Catford.
Earlier in the year a significant chapter in the TARGA story was confirmed when the Dutton Group took ownership of the business that runs the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship.
This was a watershed moment in the history of tarmac rallying as the Dutton Group took over the TARGA suite of events which comprises TARGA High Country (Mt Buller), TARGA Great Barrier Reef (Cairns) and the showpiece TARGA Tasmania.
Dutton Group CFO, Matt Hanson played a key role in the acquisition with TARGA’s events seen as a perfect fit for the renowned business which focuses on classic and modern exotic car ownership.
In 2020 as the COVID-19 virus gripped Australia, TARGA Tasmania, like many high level sporting events, could not go ahead.
Last year Tasmanians Eddie Maguire and co-driver Zak Brakey guided their Dodge Viper to a richly deserved victory.
Maguire and Brakey’s triumph solidified the many incredible chapters which have been written since that inaugural TARGA Tasmania in 1992.
As the countdown to the 30th anniversary TARGA Tasmania looms, will Jason and John White finally equal the eight victories achieved by the incomparable Jim Richards and his trusty sidekick Barry Oliver?
Or will first-time winners climb the Everest of tarmac rallies.