Field faces huge test in Tropical North Queensland

TARGA Great Barrier Reef is set to kick-off on Friday September 4 with a rejigged course that sees the motorsport action concentrated around Cairns, Innisfail and Atherton in the three day rally.

The event covers a massive 912 kilometres including 211 competitive kilometres across 18 stages.

Friday starts with the short 5.79 kilometre Greenhill stage south of Cairns to allow drivers to settle to the conditions of the day. The field then heads further south to take on the first major test, the 19.47 kilometre Gillies Range stage followed by the Lake Eacham stage stopping for a morning tea break at Atherton.

The afternoon sees cars tackle Little Mulgrave, the Gillies Ranges stage in reverse, known this time as Lake Morris, before a run out to a lunchbreak at Copperlode Dam and back to Cairns to complete the opening day of 74.19 competitive kilometres.

Saturday’s action is based around roads south of Innisfail, with the original stages planned around Mission Beach cancelled for 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic meant organisers were unable to travel to the region to complete a planned consultation phase with local residents. However, the Mission Beach locals will get a chance to see the multi-million dollar field with their township hosting the lunchbreak.

First up on Saturday morning is the 5.5 kilometre Bamboo Creek stage, followed by South Johnstone and Mena Creek. After the regrouping of the field at lunch, the three stages will be run in reverse across the afternoon to complete the 48.39 competitive kilometres.

Saturday will end with the newly created TARGAcavalcade, a procession of the field along a 27 kilometre route starting at Edmonton and running through to the city centre. This new spectacle has been designed to allow locals to see the cars up close, given the pandemic has meant the postponement of the popular TARGAfest, normally held on The Esplanade on the Saturday night of the event.

The first cars in the TARGAcavalcade are scheduled to depart Edmonton at approximately 3.40pm.

The final day on Sunday September 6 sees cars head to the 10.71 kilometre Kuranda stage north of Cairns before going south-east to tackle the Upper Barron, Malanda and Millaa Millaa stages on the way to the lunchbreak at Ravenshoe.

The Moregatta and Theresa Creek stages originally planned have been replaced due to roadworks requirements.

The event concludes with Millaa Millaa in reverse, now called Palmerston, and with another run over Upper Baron to round out the 18-stage challenge of car and driver.

By the time the cars cross the finish line at the Cairns Showgrounds they will have completed over 900 kilometres across the three days of TARGA Great Barrier Reef, which has quickly built a reputation on the Australian motorsport calendar.

“We are really happy with the course that we have been able to put together with the cooperation of the local councils for this the third running of TARGA Great Barrier Reef,” said TARGA CEO Mark Perry.

“From the first time we ran the event in 2018, the feedback from the competitors, who really enjoy the roads, has been fantastic, and we have been blown away by the enthusiasm of the locals who really get out and support the event.

“The pandemic has changed some aspects of TARGA, but we know that it will still be an event enjoyed by all and we are delighted to be able to bring the cars to the people with the TARGAcavalcade.”

“TARGA Great Barrier Reef would not be possible without the support of Tropical North Queensland and the local councils which we appreciate at this really challenging time.”

The event will commence from the Cairns Showgrounds this year, with the first car on the course at 8:30am on Friday September 5.

With the cancellation of TARGA Tasmania in late April because of the pandemic, the Cairns-based event becomes the first round of the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship for 2020.