New tyre and brake package to boost White Viper

Photo Credit: Angryman Photography

Saturday April 17th, 2021

Perennial TARGA Tasmania charger Jason White says the move to a smaller tyre and rim will assist his chances of equalling a record at the iconic tarmac rally.

Jason and John White have now combined to seven Targa Tasmania titles, one behind the record set by Jim Richards and Barry Oliver.

The Dodge Viper will switch from wear sensitive and extremely low profile 19-inch tyres on the front to a more durable 18-inch rim and tyre combination.

“We have a different tyre package on the front which will hopefully stop us whingeing about our tyre wear,” White says.

“The only option we had before was the OEM tyre that came on the car. 

“So now it has eased our mind as far as the front of the car goes but the rear is still as big an issue as it has ever been.

“There is a massive tyre on the rear so there is no-one that makes a tyre that would be compatible for it.”

Together with the front tyre change, the Viper will see the carbon/ceramic brake package binned. Instead White has opted for a more conventional steel brake set-up all-round.

“Hopefully it will give us more consistency in the feel of the brake pedal,” White says.

“We are happy with it at this stage but it is still unproven.

“It won’t be until we push hard down the side of Cethana(37.71km) on Day 3 whether the decision has been correct or not.

“There is no racetrack on the planet that is as hard going down the mountain as Cethana.

“If you still have brakes at the bottom then you know you’ve pretty much got it right.”

White tried the new arrangement for the first time at the HellyerGorge rally earlier this year but has not competed in a TARGA event since High Country in 2019.

The changes come as White and his co-driver uncle John White eye the record of eight wins by Jim Richards and Barry Oliver.

“That (eight wins) is the starting point for us. John has always said that he would retire at 10 (wins),” White declared.

“We’ve had a couple of failed attempts in the last five or six years.

“We’ve been in the lead of more TARGAS that we’ve won and have lost them for one reason or another.

“An eighth win is something we are really, really desperate to get on the board. The eighth win would just be a stepping stone to 10. 

“But you can be too confident about a TARGA attempt. We are well aware of the battles ahead to actually get to the finish line and win it. Turning up with the fastest car is a very secondary thing.

“This year is very important to us and it certainly has got our attention and we are not heading into it lightly.”

GT Outright will also see Dodge Viper machinery for Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey and John Ireland and Janet Binns.

Former TARGA Tasmania winner and 2020 TARGA Great Barrier Reef champion Tony Quinn and Kate Catford are in fine form and return as top chances in their 2018 Nissan GT-R.

The 29th edition of TARGA Tasmania will kick off from the Launceston Silverdome to the first stage, High Plains, on April 19 with the event finishing after 37 stages and 618km of competitive distance at PW1 in Hobart on April 24.

Targa Tasmania honour roll – outright winners

1992 Greg Crick/Greg Preece, Honda NSX

1993 Greg Crick/Greg Preece, Honda NSX

1994 Andrew Miedecke/Alan Taylor, Porsche 944 Turbo Cup

1995 Neal Bates/Coral Taylor, Toyota Celica GT-Four (ST205)

1996 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 Turbo (993)

1997 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 Turbo (993) 

1998 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 Turbo (993)

1999 Peter Fitzgerald/Michael Mansour, Porsche 911 Turbo (993) 

2000 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 GT3 CS

2001 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 Turbo (996)

2002 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 Turbo (996)

2003 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 GT3 CS

2004 Tony Sullens/Julia Rabbett, Subaru Impreza WRX STiS202

2005 Jason White/John White, Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec N1 (R34)

2006 Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 GT2 CS (996)

2007 Tony Sullens/Julia Barkley, Subaru Impreza WRX Type RA (GC8)

2008 Steve Glenney/Bernie Webb, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX RS

2009 Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett, Nissan GT-R

2010 Jason White/John White Lamborghini, Gallardo ReiterSuper Trofeo Stradale

2011 Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett, Nissan GT-R

2012 Jason White/John White, Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale

2013 Jason White/John White, Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale

2014 Jamie Vandenberg/Dennis Sims, Nissan GT-R

2015 Jason White/John White, Lamborghini Gallardo SquadraCorse

2016 Matt Close/Cameron Reeves, 2015 Porsche 911 GT3

2017 Jason White/John White, Dodge Viper

2018 Jason White/John White, Dodge Viper

2019 Paul Stokell/Kate Catford, Lotus Exige Sport 350

2020 Not held

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Siddins primed for Classic GT showdown at TARGA Tasmania

Friday, 16th April, 2021

Entertaining Classic GT competitor Jon Siddins believes tyres will play a crucial role in the outcome of the 29th edition of TARGA Tasmania which gets underway this Monday and finishes on April 24.

Siddins has an enviable record in the popular Classic GT class alongside co-driver Gina Siddins with the pair capturing two wins and a second from their last four TT campaigns in the 1970 Datsun 240Z.

“We normally go quite well in Tassie. With all these new rule changes it will make things different,” Siddins said.

With 37 stages across almost 620 kilometres, TARGA Tasmania will dish up a considerable challenge to competitors and their machines.

“The last time we ran around 600 kilometres we were allowed eight tyres but you are now allowed just six tyres,” Siddins said.

“Hopefully that should help me a bit. I can manage my tyres a bit better than the other guys because I haven’t got the power some of the other cars have to wear them out.

“The Dunlop tyres we run have been really good, especially when its wet. I tend make a mile on everyone if there is a bit of moisture around.”

Siddins had to source a new bottom-end for the Datsun’s engine after he split the bore, forcing him out of the 2020 TARGA Great Barrier Reef just as he was mounting a strong challenge for victory.

“Went down to Tassie just after Christmas to pick up an engine and we only just got back before the borders shut again so we were lucky with the timing.

“Everything seems to have come together and we’ll just give the car a polish and that’s about it.”

In GT Sports Trophy, Robert Bryden and co-driver Ian Noble are looking to go one place better following their stunning class debut in February.

The pair are a classic example of how to navigate a pathway through the ranks in TARGA after experiencing their first event as part of the Lotus tour group in 2016.

At their first attempt at GT Sports Trophy at Mt Buller earlier this year, Bryden and Noble finished second, falling short of the top place by just 25 seconds.

A long time Lotus owner whose models have included a 1983 Esprit Turbo, Elan, Elan+2, Lotus 7 Series 4, Elise and Exige S1, Bryden’s GTST charge is now an Exige 410 Sport.

Bryden professes to be a self-confessed car fan and driving enthusiast while admitting he is not a professional racing driver.

“I think I am like a lot of other drivers, you think some of these driving events are too hard to attempt or you have to be a professional,” Bryden explains.

“But once we had a taste of what TARGA was about, we felt comfortable enough to try a more competitive class.

“High Country was our first time in GT Sports Trophy and we scored a podium and 16th outright which even included a top 10 around the tight Mansfield stage,” Bryden said.

Bryden and Noble are one of 17 entries in GTST which has attracted six Lotus machines and a decent spread of models from Porsche, BMW, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Toyota.

Prior to graduating to GTST, Bryden used his Lotus Exige 380 Cup in the points-based TSD (time, speed, distance) Trophy.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530 902
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995

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Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620

Stars to tour TARGA Tasmania

Thursday, 15th April, 2021

A selection of celebrities are coming out to play at TARGA Tasmania which sets off from Launceston’s Silverdome on April 19.

The stars, who represent a broad range of backgrounds, add even more spice to a jam-packed entry list for the 29th running of the world’s most prestigious tarmac rally.

Among the group are former Tasmania-born AFL player Thomas Bellchambers who played 136 games for Essendon.

Former ruckman Bellchambers will be joined for the TARGA sojourn by his fiancee actress Olympia Valance as co-driver. Valance has starred in the Australian soap Neighbours and the Australian Rules-based TV series Playing for Keeps.

“Growing up in Launceston it was a tradition to go and watch the TARGA cars tear down the Tamar Highway,” Bellchambers said.

“I’m stoked to be able to experience that from the driver’s seat in what will be a fun week experiencing this great rally.”

Georgia Love

Best known for her time on the reality TV show, The Bachelorette, Georgia Love will also be part of the celebrity line-up as well as Sarah Czarnuch, a newspaper columnist, influencer and model.

Sarah Czarnuch

“After reporting on TARGA for years as a journalist in Tasmania, I’m absolutely thrilled to be heading to the beautiful Apple Isle to get to experience the TARGA Tour and get an awesome driving experience for myself,” Love said.

Perth-based firefighter Cameron Cranley, a contestant on the same season of The Bachelorette as Georgie Love, will also enjoy time on the TARGA Tour.

Cameron Cranley

Another high profile inclusion is Tasmanian raised Nic Davidson, a former professional athlete and entrepreneur who founded multiple businesses including Macha Maiden, offering a range of green tea-based powders, and Matcha Mylkbar, a vegan cafe located at St Kilda.

The celebrities will all drive identical Mercedes-Benz C300 machines as part of the non-competitive tour side of TARGA through the first four days of the six-day rally.

TARGA embraces a myriad of competitive classes that will do battles across 37 timed stages over almost 620km across the length and breadth of Tasmania.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530 902
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Shane Jacobson to drive ‘Brock’s Monaro’ at TARGA Tasmania

A replica of Peter Brock’s Red Monaro

Thursday, 15th April, 2021

Organisers of TARGA Tasmania have pulled off a major coup with confirmation that film and television star Shane Jacobson will compete behind the wheel of an exact replica of Peter Brock’s Holden Monaro.

Jacboson, a long-time motorsport fan who has competed in several rallies on mainland Australia in the past, will realise one of his lasting motoring ambitions by having his first taste of the iconic Tasmanian tarmac odyssey.

The acclaimed actor, writer and funnyman will have the services of the brilliantly credentialled Naomi Tillett who will call the pace notes for the 37-stage, 620 kilometre rally. Tillett won TARGA Tasmania as co-driver for Tony Quinn in 2009 and 2011.

A TARGA-spec 5.7litre V8 Monaro was driven by Brock at the Tasmanian event from 2002-2004.

“It’s a whole bunch of dreams come true to be honest,” Melbourne-based Jacobson said.

“I’ve always wanted to do TARGA Tassie and have been asked but have never been available, but this year the stars aligned and got all my ducks in a row and my wife (Felicity) said yes.

“As a motoring enthusiast and a revhead, and I’m an even share of both, it’s a dream come true.

“Then to be asked to drive the (exact replica) car that Brockie drove, the great part is there is one stage that I’ll be able to beat him on because he ran out of fuel on one stage.

“I’ve actually got a chance for one time in my life to actually beat Brockie.”

Jacobson is excited about the prospects of teaming up with South Australian Tillett whose knowledge and expertise of TARGA will be a considerable asset.

“She is very experienced and at least there is one person in the car who will know what they are doing,” Jacobson quipped.

“But seriously our job is to go out there have a good time and bring the car back home straight and okay do some okay times.

“We want to get a really good flow-on and enjoy the Tasmanian roads at decent speeds.”

Jacobson is understandably pumped at the chance to drive the red Monaro CV8 and is relishing the chance to compete on Tasmania’s technically challenging and scenic roads.

“I’m taking one helmet to protect my head and another helmet to cover up my smile,” he chuckled.

“You can’t get better than the idea of 2000 kilometres of roads of which 620 of that is competitive and all of it with the backdrop of Tasmania’s stunning landscape and terrain. 

“It’s a tick, tick, tick.”

The 29th edition of TARGA Tasmania sees the field leave from the Silverdome in Launceston on a 66km touring stage to the first competitive test, High Plains (5.80km) on April 19. It is the first of 37 timed sages across six days and 2437km of total distance.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530 902
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Anear hints at more pace from Mercedes GT R

Luke Anear at TARGA High Country (Photo Credit: Otherside Productions/Wishart Media)

Sunday April 11, 2021

Experienced competitor Luke Anear labels TARGA Tasmania as the best event he has ever done in a car.

Heading into the showpiece event from April 19 to 24 on the island state, Anear admits he has not scratched the surface in terms of understanding the electronic intricacies of the Mercedes GT R turbo-charged V8.

After debuting the super coupe at TARGA’s only event in 2020 (the Cairns-based Great Barrier Reef) and showing improvement at the February running of TARGA High Country, Anear says there is a lot more performance left in the GT R.

“We are still learning about the car but we are heading in the right direction,” Anear explained.

“There is a lot more left in the car so I just need to convince myself to brake a lot later.

“We cut a tyre going down Buller in February which wasn’t great but all-in-all we were happy with the result.”

Anear and co-driver Andy Sarandis guided the Mercedes GT R to third in the GT Outright class at Mt Buller behind the Nissan GT-R of Tony Quinn and Kate Catford.

Placing sixth in overall standings at the alpine event, Anear says he is excited about the GT R tackling its maiden TARGA Tasmania.

“We are getting better and better each time we go out in the car,” Anear said.

“But there is so much to learn in terms of all the electronic systems in the car.

“I’m really excited about getting to TARGA. It’s the longest one there has been and it’s going to be a real test as ever.

“Apart from the competition side of things, TARGA is a real mental test of endurance as well as the physical side of things.”

Along with the Quinn/Catford Nissan, the GTO field of 19 entries is headed by seven-time champion Jason White and John White in their Dodge Viper.

The strong field is spiced with a mix of talent including Jeff Morton/Daymon Nicoli (2019 Porsche GT2 RS), Eddie Maguire/Zak Brakey (2016 Dodge Viper ACR), John Ireland/Janet Binns (2017 Dodge Viper ACR) and Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler (2015 Nissan GT-R).

Making the transition to GTO from their highly successful years in Classic GT, is Michael and Daniel Bray who will campaign a 2014 Nissan GT-R.

Anear is relishing the chance to mix it with the hot competition as much as he is looking forward to the camaraderie away from the stages.

“There are a lot of challenges about the event and we have picked up a few things over the years. 

“The roads are truly amazing and I can’t think of any tarmac event in the world that tops it really.

“Tommy Monaghan (runs in GTP with co-driver Alan Stephenson) is a good mate of mine and we both mix TARGA with our gravel rally program.

“The camaraderie is what makes TARGA so special as well as the actual quality of the competition on roads that are breath-taking.

“TARGA Tas is the best event I’ve done in a car by a mile. It is about finishing as much as it is about competing.”

The 29th edition of TARGA Tasmania will kick off from the Launceston Silverdome to the first stage, High Plains, on April 19 with the event finishing after 37 stages and 618km of competitive distance at PW1 in Hobart on April 24.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530 902
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995

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Top Early Modern 2 contenders primed for TARGA

Adam Spence (Photo Credit: Otherside Productions/Wishart Media)

Saturday April 10, 2021

Sydney-based competitor Adam Spence and co-driver Lee Challoner-Miles have touched off the perfect preparation ahead of the 29th edition of TARGA Tasmania.

The world’s most celebrated tarmac rally is set to kick off from Launceston on April 19 with the event finishing in Hobart after six gruelling days of competition on April 24.

Spence and Challoner-Miles recently completed a thorough reconnaissance of the course that this year sees the longest cumulative competitive stages in the event’s storied history.

The pair are considered strong contenders in the Dutton Garage Early Modern 2 category following their class-winning result at High Country in Victoria in February when they debuted their newly acquired 2004 BMW M3 CSL.

The lightweight version of BMW’s super coupe will face its strongest challenge in Tasmania across the 37 stages that cover almost 620km of the state’s diverse network of roads.

“We recently did the recce, taking in the whole course in just under three days. It almost killed me,” Spence said.

“The thing that we really noticed is that there are a lot of mixed surfaces and surfaced impacts and there are a lot of resurfaced areas on certain stages.

“Primarily we have learnt that there is a lot of time to be gained if you can understand the grip levels. So we spent a lot of time on that in the notes.”

Spence said that apart from some minor tweaks, the E46 model M3 that exudes sports-car balance and cracking performance, remains relatively untouched following its High Country romp.

The M3 managed to win EM2 by almost six minutes and was classified in a highly commendable 10th outright following the rescheduled Mt Buller High Country event.

“It was really satisfying because we went a lot better than expected,” Spence said.

“We have done a few little suspension tweaks that we weren’t able to do prior to High Country. But that is all we have had to do to be honest.”

Spence announced that one of his sponsorship spots for the TARGA Tasmania campaign has been given up to the Sydney-based charity Can4Cancer which also has support from the two-car Team Sydney Supercars team (drivers Fabian Coulthard and Garry Jacobson).

“We have given up one of our sponsorship spots on the bonnet to Can4Cancer and part of the deal will see Lee and I do a 350 kilometre bike ride for the charity a few weeks after TARGA,” Spence said.

The EM2 field also sees another 2004 BMW M3 CSL in the hands of experienced TARGA Tasmania runner Adam Kaplan and co-driver Aleshia Penney as the Munich manufacturer is represented by five entries in the 14-strong EM2 field.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530 902
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Colourful Copeland chipper about new TARGA ride

Graham Copeland (Photo Credit: Angryman Photography)

Friday April 9, 2021

Graham Copeland will feel like he is driving in the lap of luxury when he returns to compete in a new class at TARGA Tasmania from April 19 to 24.

Retiring his much loved but problematic open-wheel 1941 GMC Jimmy Special, Copeland moves from Classic Handicap to Classic GT in a 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo he will share with regular co-driver Josh Herbert.

“That’s going to be novel,” Copeland said referring to competing in a car with a roof. “And an actual windscreen too so we don’t get bugs in our teeth.

“It’s got a heater, power windows and compared to that old bucket we’ve been bashing around, it drives beautifully.”

Copeland says the priority is to ‘plod along’ and get to the finish of the six-day, 37-stage TARGA Tasmania which has grown to cover a record competitive distance of almost 620km.

“We bought the Porsche about 18 months ago, but then last year was canned because of COVID. So we have spent the last year building it and getting it ready.

“Hopefully it survives and lasts six days. But we are intending to finish, that is our aspiration.

“It drives beautifully, handles nicely and has got enough mumbo.

“It’s quite a good little piece of gear. It’s a left-hooker so I think Josh will find it interesting calling the notes from the right-hand side.”

Copeland is looking forward to having some semblance of luxury and reliability with the Porsche coupe he bought off the brother of Supercars ace Cam Waters in Mildura.

“It was set-up specifically as a track car so we have had to do a heck of a lot to bring it up to a TARGA-spec car.”

After having his work cut out to keep the temperamental Jimmy Special on the road and even coax to the finish line, Copeland is looking forward to a cosier time with the Porsche.

“We’ve gone from carrying a thousand spares and tools to carrying a new phone and a lighter so if we break down I’ll just phone a friend,” he joked.

“That was a fast car the old Jimmy, but I was just knackered every day because it took so much work just to keep it on the road. Leaf springs and wheels going in every direction.

“But we haven’t got rid of the Jimmy Special. It is a family heirloom so it’s sitting out the back in the shed. I don’t think anyone is mad enough to drive it aside from me.”

Copeland is also pretty chuffed about acquiring a new competition number.

“I was pretty impressed with our new number, 666. It suits us perfectly.”

The 2021 edition of TARGA Tasmania sets off from Launceston on April 19 with the first of 37 stages amounting to almost 620km of competitive distance and 2437m of total distance over six days.

The “new” Copeland Porsche for 2021.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530 902
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Tony Quinn at TARGA High Country. Photo credit: Otherside Productions/Wishart Media

Some of Australia’s most successful tarmac rally drivers have analysed the reasons why TARGA Tasmania’s roads are the envy of world motorsport.

High on their list is the sheer variety of roads that criss-cross the island state.

The network of public roads embrace twisting, undulating routes with straighter expanses of bitumen that cut through some of the most unique and spectacular terrain in Australia.

Since the first TARGA Tasmania in 1992, the event has evolved into the most pre-eminent tarmac rally competition in the world that will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

Ahead of the 29th edition of TT blasting off from April 19 to 24, a selection of drivers have outlined the reasons why Tasmania offers the best experience of a lifestyle motoring odyssey.

Jim Richards, who with co-driver Barry Oliver have claimed a record eight outright TARGA Tasmania wins, says the highlight of driving on Tassie roads is the tantalising variety of roads that access exhilarating terrain.

“The roads in Tassie are a real combination of up and down and around and nice flowing corners with some nice gorge style corners,” said Richards, who retired from the competitive element of TARGA Tasmania after his 26th time at the event in 2018.

“It has a bit of everything. Its got a bit of wet and dry but the main thing is you get a chance to relax in between the stages. 

“It’s also great to have a bit of camaraderie with your co-driver and other competitors. 

“Barry (Oliver) and I just really enjoy it. Now that we are just doing the Tour (non-competitive) side of things its not quite as serious and its just a nice relaxing drive in the country.

“You are just going a little bit faster than you normally can. But you get a chance to look around and take in the surroundings a lot more.

“The scenery is different in Tassie than anywhere else in the country so it really is quite unique.”

Accomplished circuit racer and the 2019 TARGA Tasmania winner, Paul Stokell is well qualified to judge what makes the DNA of the event so special.

“I think its probably the best event I’ve done anywhere in the world simply because of the diverse nature of the roads. You are out there on the road where you are allowed to drive unrestricted so its a pretty magical experience,” said Stokell, who was born in Tasmania.

“It’s one of the highlights of my driving career and the beauty about Tasmania is you are never going over the same roads twice.

“I guess I grew up on a lot of the west coast roads and they just flow so well. I don’t know of any better roads in the world. 

“The highways keep going through the mountain passes, the surfaces of the roads are pretty good and I don’t think you could match it anywhere in the world. It’s pretty unique.

“You look at events around the world, everything has been sterilised so much over the years particularly in circuit racing, so TARGA and the Isle of Man races I consider as the last bastion of freedom that drivers and riders have a chance to really test their mettle against the elements.”

Melbourne Porsche driver Matt Close maintains that the pure variety of terrain and roads are the reason why TARGA Tasmania is regarded as the leading tarmac rally in the world.

“It’s the variety, so for example, like the difference between the Phillip Island and Baskerville race circuits and you’ve got everything in between,” Close explained.

“You’ve got the fast, flowing stuff and the tight, technical stuff.

“But what I really like about it is that it builds. The super quick stuff down the west coast and just when you feel like you are getting a little bit weary from three days of racing, it amps up again so it sort of crescendos to the point where the stakes get higher and the weather gets a bit worse.

“Picking two stages for comparison, you couldn’t get any different than The Sideling and Mt Arrowsmith. So there is a bit in it for everyone.”

The 2021 edition of TARGA Tasmania sets off from Launceston on April 19 with the first of 37 stages amounting to almost 620km of competitive distance and 2437m of total distance over six days.

Media contact details
Ian Chesterman – 0417 530902
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995


Many driving enthusiasts have fierce aspirations of competing in a tarmac rally event. After participating in six TARGA events over the years, Robert Bryden and navigator Ian Noble have driven their Lotus Exige Sport 410 to victory, having secured a maiden podium place in the competitive GT Sports Trophy class at TARGA High Country, in Victoria.

Robert has been a passionate driving enthusiast from the young age of six, having an older brother who introduced him to fast cars and driving early on. He isn’t a professional, but a self confessed car lover, aiming to enjoy his time behind the wheel and gain some skills along the way. While many driving enthusiasts will initially consider advanced training or track day events as a way to fuel their passions, not too many will realise how accessible a TARGA tarmac rally truly is. In fact, practically anyone can try their first rally event with a road registered vehicle and a Motorsport Australia license.

“I think I am like a lot of other drivers, you think some of these driving events are too hard to attempt or you have to be a professional. With a bit of research & the help of my Sydney Lotus dealership I could do it knowing they were there to help me along the way.”

In 2016, Rob decided try his luck at his first TARGA event; he joined the Australian Lotus Tour group at TARGA High Country. TARGA Australia runs a number of Tour groups as part of their tarmac rally event program. These groups travel on the same closed roads as the competition classes, but is not timed and gives any first timer a spirited taste of what doing a tarmac rally is all about, without the stress or pressure of competing. Lotus hosts an exclusive group that is available for owners of Lotus elite sports cars. Prior to learning about this opportunity, Rob was a little daunted by the thought of entering, but the organised, no-fuss Tour group led by Lotus made it simple.

In 2018, Robert and Ian decided to compete in the TSD Competition at TARGA Tasmania, TARGA High Country and TARGA Great Barrier Reef with great success. Multiple top five positions at each of these events pushed the duo to take on the GT Sports Trophy class at TARGA High Country 2021, so Robert upgraded to a Lotus Exige Sport 410. 

“Once we had a taste of what Targa was about, we felt comfortable enough to try a more competitive class. Driving on closed roads in a tarmac rally is a unique experience. It’s not just about the driving, but doing an event with other driving enthusiasts is like nothing else.”

With the assistance of Simply Sports Cars Lotus in Sydney, their car was prepared with all the necessary safety equipment which included safety harnesses, driver and navigator communications as well as a safety roll cage. They were ready to take on the mountain.

The opening day of TARGA High Country enveloped crews in rain and mist. Even with border restrictions hampering event entries, there were over 60 cars rearing to go. By the end of the first leg, Robert and Ian were leading their category with a six second gap to second place.

“Day one…was a huge challenge. We had no idea how we would go and had no expectations at all. The car was superbly set up by Simply Sports Cars and we just drove smoothly, linking turns and not throwing the car about. To our great surprise [ and I’m sure to the surprise of others ] we ended up leading the field in our class against some very experienced competitors. Our time was even ahead of some of the Open class competitors!”

Day two rolled in with clear skies and some longer stages. By the afternoon, Robert and Ian had moved to second place behind Trude and Morrison with another sub ten-second gap separating the teams. 

“I think in the drier conditions, we had less of an advantage with our smooth and gentler driving style than we did in the wet, although we did win one stage and were not far behind on the others – a second here and there. It was huge fun competing against former targa winning teams in our class and then having social dinners at night and ‘talking it up’ with lots of laughs together’’

The battle of the last stages during day three saw Rob and Ian finally pass Sher and Murphy to clinch their first ever podium position in GT Sports Trophy. After three days of gruelling competition, it was less than 30 seconds that separated the top three positions; all Lotus Exiges.

“The final day, we knew we had to push it to hold onto a podium position and that we had a real chance of overtaking the car ahead. We went into it with a positive mindset while realising TARGA is all about finishing – to balance pushing on hard, communicating between driver and navigator while not overdoing it. If you make an error on a [regular] track, there’s a strong chance nothing untoward will happen. An error at TARGA is less forgiving so judgement and caution play a significant part in success. We went really hard on the Jamieson stage, and caught time on the leader and actually caught and passed the car in third spot behind us. The fourth placed car went too hard and went off. This gave us a real chance on the last stage; the fabulous run through Mansfield township, where the locals were set up in their yards watching and cheering as the cars flew past. We nailed the town stage and got the second fastest time ever by a Lotus and a time that gave us tenth outright despite our 130kph maximum speed allowance. What a way to finish the event, ending up only 25 seconds behind our good friends Simon and Deon after three days competing.”

Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy 2021 Results

1st Place – Simon Trude/Dion Morrison (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport)

2nd Place – Robert Bryden/Ian Noble (2020 Lotus Exige) +25s

3rd Place – Steven Sher/Fergal Murphy (2016 Lotus Exige) +2:07s

This is the story of how a true car lover worked his way through the TARGA ranks, slowly gaining experience through the Tours, and eventually finishing second place in one of the more prestigious competition categories. Rob is an excellent example of how anyone can achieve their motorsport dreams with a little bit of patient perseverance. Congratulations Rob and Ian!

You can watch the full interview here.


Lotus Cars Australia make it really easy for any owner of an Elise, Exige or Evora sports car to participate in a TARGA Australia tarmac rally event by hosting an official Lotus Tour Group. This is the first step for anyone wanting to see what a rally event is like. Head to to find out more.

Simply Sports Cars Lotus in Sydney provides support for driving crews who are interested in getting into the competitive classes like TSD, GT Sports Trophy or the open GT classes with either ground up vehicle builds, modifications to existing vehicles or their TARGA GT spec rally car package. Head to to find out more.

Special thanks to Paul D’Ambra for this article. 



TARGA TV is back everyone.

9Now premiered our new episode of TARGA TV last Sunday, focusing on our latest event which was held on Mount Buller in February 2021. Created by OtherSide Productions, this 22 minute episode is packed with all the best action and highlights of our exceptional tarmac rally.

Give it a watch now HERE for free on 9Now!

Whilst TARGA High Country saw a postponement of the event for the first time ever, better late than never we say as we are just so grateful to have been able to run the event during these unprecedented times. Unfortunately due to volatility and closures of state borders, there were teams that were not able to join us. Check out what you missed and what there is to look forward to when we hold the event again in November!