I am writing to you as a member of the TARGA family to provide an update on where we currently sit in planning and preparations for TARGA Great Barrier Reef and TARGA Tasmania 2023.
Given the volume of correspondence TARGA has received from participants, it is important we provide you with what clarity we can at this time.
It is also important that you know we remain upbeat about the prospect of TARGA rallies well into the future.
The Tarmac Rally Working Group (TRWG) was reformed after the 2021 safety review and is tasked with playing a key role in the implementation of the latest recommendations handed down in the TARGA Review Panel report released on 28 February, 2023.
Unfortunately, little correspondence has been released since those findings were handed down.
An Implementation Plan is critical to ensuring recommendations from the report become a reality, however this is yet to be finalised and we have no knowledge as to when it will be released. While the report was only released in February, it should be remembered that the core content of the report was established internally as far back as September 2022, almost eight months ago.
Without an Implementation Plan, it is impossible to predict what impact will be felt by competitors, event promoters and other commercial stakeholders who want to see TARGA continue to stage safe and enjoyable events.
Given the current environment, many of you have rightly looked to TARGA for answers; for some sort of certainty about the future surrounding our events. We wish we could provide that certainty.
Sadly, we have had minimal input into the process, despite the expert knowledge we have from more than three decades hosting our iconic events.
Some have insinuated our ‘expertise’ may be too commercially-focused, however it should be remembered that following the 2021 Investigatory Tribunal Report, TARGA implemented every recommendation. And we did so immediately, with all recommendations in place for TARGA High Country within four months of the report’s release, and months before TARGA Tasmania.
This is clear evidence that we are prepared and willing to work within a revised framework to ensure TARGA goes ahead for the TARGA family.
Many of you would know that the Tarmac Rally Competitors Association of Australia (TRCAA) stated in their newsletter that they had put a series of questions to TARGA in relation to our events.
While many of these questions are certainly valid, we simply do not have the information needed to provide concrete answers. The responses below should provide some context as to why:
Q: Will my current GT car qualify?
Motorsport Australia has determined the parameters of qualification and each owner should seek clarification from MA if they think they breach both parameters, which is the basis for future exclusion.
Q: What licence will I need and how much will that cost?
Motorsport Australia has always determined the parameters and costs of licences – not TARGA. MA is yet to advise of their future plans in this space, but as members, we are sure they will advise you in due course.
Q: I won’t enter until I see the course details, stage lengths and number etc. When will these be available?
TARGA has always released the TARGA Tasmania course approximately four months before the event (normally Christmas). This will see the course announced at the end of June to provide the normal amount of time for a pre-event recce before the event in late October. Entries remain open until late September, providing plenty of time for those who choose to wait.
Q: Without full technical regulations, how can I be sure my car will or could be made to qualify?
Motorsport Australia is now tasked with the issuing of technical regulations, not just approving these regulations, so no one – including TARGA – can be sure of eligibility moving forward. If it comes to pass that your car is deemed ineligible, TARGA will refund your entry fee in full.
Q: Will I have the (as yet undefined) qualifications to enter in my preferred category?
Motorsport Australia will be making these decisions to be followed by all tarmac rallies and any advice on this will be provided as and when it comes to hand.
Q: There is no mention in the TARGA release about training requirements. Will these be a requirement for all entrants?
TARGA has never set the parameters for training or licensing. This responsibility sits with Motorsport Australia, hence why there was no mention of it in our release.
As you can see, many of the questions posed require answers from Motorsport Australia, which are as yet unavailable. Unfortunately, until an Implementation Plan is in place, both TARGA and TRCAA – as well as competitors and other stakeholders – are all in the same boat. We are currently all in the dark as to what the future holds.
What I can assure you of, however, is that TARGA remains as intent as ever to continue staging the successful events thousands and thousands of participants have enjoyed for many, many years.
So, where to now?
While the current lack of an Implementation Plan brings with it uncertainty as to what the immediate future holds, you should know that TARGA remains 100% committed to future events.
For myself and many of you, rarely a day goes by that we don’t reflect on the very fond memories of those we have lost.
However, it is important that we honour Shane, Leigh, Dennis, Tony and their friends and families by continuing to move TARGA forward and stage safe and enjoyable events well into the future.
I am buoyed by our staff who turn up to the office every day and smile, putting their best foot forward despite the circumstances that confront us, to continue to work hard for you.
You may have seen our recent offer to TT30 competitors – those highly-impacted by the events of last year – combined with our release of a technical guide which is designed to help you prepare for the future. This is all in the absence of any formal communication to date from Motorsport Australia, but provides further evidence that as long as there are lessons to be learnt from previous events, we will implement change when it is required.
In all honesty, cancelling this year’s TARGA Tasmania given the current environment would have saved us many painstaking months of pulling a huge logistical event together at an unusual time.
Cancelling is what some people expected, and some even hoped for.
Cancelling would have been the easiest decision for us to make, but it wouldn’t have been the right one.
Cancelling would have wasted more time, and drained hope from our competitors, officials and sponsors.
Cancelling was not an option we wanted to consider, however postponing was a clear sign of our willingness to fight for our rights to put on these unique events.
With that in mind, it’s important to explain why we are moving forward with plans to stage TARGA Tasmania at the end of October, as I know many people are wondering why that time of year was chosen.
In order to conduct an event of this size, logistics need to support its staging. For us, the most fundamental element surrounding TARGA Tasmania relates to getting people and vehicles to the event, and accommodating them while they’re there. If we can’t do that, there is no event.
To that end, we worked closely with the Spirit of Tasmania, all Tasmanian Councils, Hotel Grand Chancellor and the Novotel who were all incredibly supportive to help us find a window which would benefit all stakeholders. With bookings already strong between Spring and Christmas, we settled on October which has the added benefit of allowing a good period of time in the leadup to next year’s TARGA Tasmania in April 2024.
How you can help
It is little surprise that we are often asked if TARGA Tasmania will happen again.
The simple answer is that if people don’t enter, the event cannot take place.
TARGA Tasmania’s enormous success over three decades, and the reason our sponsors are so supportive of the event, is because so many people want to participate either as competitors or as members of the wider TARGA family.
Staging TARGA Tasmania is an incredible organisational undertaking, and it needs many, many people supporting and taking part to remain viable.
For many years, this has been its greatest strength. While I am proud to lead a team which continues to stage incredible events which countless people have enjoyed, it is those attending who make it the success it has long been.
Unfortunately, unprecedented times have led to understandable uncertainty. If we are to move forward, we now need your support.
Early Bird entries remain open for TARGA Great Barrier Reef and TARGA Tasmania until midnight on Friday 26 May. We are asking you to have faith in the team which has successfully delivered 62 rallies that have provided many memories for those taking part. TARGA has provided joy to more than 10,000 competitors and participants, who have driven millions of kilometres and injected more than $350m into local economies, along with promoting Australia all around the world.
Our commitment to you
While the uncertainty being experienced right now may be different to times gone by, it is worth remembering that most people have historically registered for TARGA events without knowing all the final details.
For example, the approvals required for each TARGA stage mean courses are rarely fully confirmed before the bulk of entries have already been received.
However, as a show of good faith, if it happens that developments in the future mean you and/or your car are ineligible to compete in your chosen section of TARGA, all monies paid will be refunded. We will then collaborate closely with you to rectify the challenges you may face, so that you can return to TARGA as soon as possible.
This is our commitment to you.
Sure, the course may have some changes – it always has – but it will remain 500+ competitive kilometres and the total distance will also remain at around 1900km.
We can all agree that without this style of course it simply is not TARGA Tasmania. The overnight move from Strahan to Devonport opens a myriad of opportunities for new excitement and new adventures, but the course length and style must remain.
The legacy and history of TARGA Tasmania must be protected.
Again, this is our commitment to you.
Believe in the future
TARGA, our sponsors and stakeholders continue to move forward every day with the steadfast belief that this year’s event will continue its growth towards TARGA Tasmania’s 35th Anniversary in 2027.
We all have faith that the uncertainty we are currently experiencing will pass and clarity is somewhere on the horizon.
While these are challenging times, we can’t sit on the fence and wait for our destiny to be written for us. Living our dreams, enjoying life as we choose has long been integral to the spirit of TARGA and tarmac rallying more broadly.
We cannot wither away and be left only with amazing memories. We will stand up and fight for you, and we hope you continue to support us. With so much uncertainty, so many questions, we remain loyally in your corner demanding answers from those who have them.
We do so, because the future of TARGA – and the TARGA family – is well worth fighting for.
Sincerely and in faith,