Consistency the Key to Overall TARGA High Country Sprint Championship

Tasmania’s Peter Nunn and co-driver Keith Johnstone have been crowned the Overall TARGA High Country Sprint Champions on Victoria’s Mount Buller today.

The TARGA High Country Sprint 2 was full of surprises, with the top two teams from Saturday’s Sprint 1 withdrawing due to mechanical issues. This opened the field wide up for cars outside of the Dutton Garage Early Modern 4 to come through to secure the Overall victory.

Nunn and Johnstone’s 2016 Porsche Cayman was the car to make the most of the opportunity, winning the Overall and Mt Buller GT Production trophies. Ben Newman and Adam Kudra (2010 Subaru WRX STi) finished second in GT Productions, and Barrie Smith and Anthony McLoughlin (2017 Audi TTRS) third.

It nearly wasn’t meant to be for the Cayman, with a water leak in the radiator after the first run up the mountain on Saturday. However Nunn was able to patch the hole during the brief turn-around in between runs to keep the Tasmanian team in the race.

“We had a problem at the end of the very first run up the hill yesterday with a water leak in the radiator, so we were lucky we patched that up and it stayed good all weekend – we’re very, very happy to win,” Nunn said.

“And bad luck to the other two boys that were leading, but that’s the name of the game I suppose, you have to get to the finish.”

Nunn said the team have really enjoyed the inaugural TARGA High Country Sprint experience.

“After the first run, we were reasonably consistent with our times, which is good. The road in the afternoon when it’s hot is a little bit slippery, but we were happy with our consistency.

“It’s been a great weekend, Mt Buller is always a great palace to come and to be able to race up this mountain is really good. We’re happy we made the trip up from Tassie.”

After dominating on Day 1 to win the first Sprint event, defending TARGA High Country champions Jeff Morton and co-driver Daymon Nicoli experienced mechanical problems with their 2009 Mitsubishi Evolution X, forcing them to withdraw after the first of the eight runs on Day 2.

“We started the first stage and were just cruising through and we got to about two-kilometers from the end, and I thought the car had gone into limp mode, as I’m used to modern cars, but turned out that wasn’t the case,” Morton said.

“One of the valves had dropped out of the cylinder head so it had made a bit of a mess in one of the cylinders. Once we removed the spark plugs, we pretty quickly found that we weren’t going any further,” added Nicoli.

Most expected Liam and Larry Howarth (1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R V) to step into the number one spot, which they did for the first three stages, before experiencing their own mechanical difficulties with an oil pump failure, forcing them to withdraw after the second run.

With Morton/Nicoli and Howarth/Howarth unable to finish Sprint 2, they were out of the running for the overall Mansfield Shire Early Modern 4 trophy, leaving two local teams fighting for the title. It was Allan and Kerry Hines (2008 Mitsubishi Evolution X) who took the Sprint 2 victory with an almost three-minute advantage in Sprint 2 over Allan and Casey Rumble (2008 Mitsubishi Evolution X RS).

Adam Spence and Lee Challoner-Miles (2006 BMW M3) won the Dutton Garage Modern 2 competition, while placing sixth Overall.

With a new co-driver in Dean Lillie, after Samatha Winter withdrew due to illness, Victoria’s Peter Gluskie (1989 BMW 325e) won the Shannons Classic Handicap Sprint 2. As Darryl Bennett and Mary White (1989 Suzuki Swift GTi) won Saturday’s Sprint 1, the tie break for the overall Classic champion was awarded to the team with the fastest stage time in Sprint 2, which Gluskie recorded on the second running of the 7.20km Delatite River stage.

In the trophy classes, TSD Trophy’s Chris Oldaker and  David Greaves (2013 Renault Megane) backed up their Saturday victory for another win in Sprint 2 with a near perfect eight stages, only dropping two penalty points over the day.

Victorians Stephen and Jack Gould won both Thoroughbred Trophy Sprints in their 1985 BMW 323i.