Targa News


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

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

Social media contact details
Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620


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

Social media contact details
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
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995

Social media contact details
Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620


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
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995

Social media contact details
Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620


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

Social media contact details
Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620


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
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995

Social media contact details
Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620


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
Gordon Lomas – 0419 733 995

Social media contact details
Jenna Carmichael – 0487 828 620



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 www.lotuscars.com.au 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 www.simplysportscars.com 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!


TARGA Tasmania fires 30th anniversary launch button

The official start of the first TARGA Tasmania in 1992
The milestone 30th edition of TARGA Tasmania for 2022 was officially launched today, marking the one-year-to-go countdown to the major anniversary event of the iconic motorsport series.

Entries are now open for the 30th anniversary running of TARGA Tasmania, which will be staged at a brand new time slot from March 8 to 13 next year, immediately following the Eight Hour day/Labour Day long weekend.

It is the first time that TARGA Tasmania will have been held during March, and will further build on the appeal of the event moving out of the traditionally cooler months of April and May.

Moving from a Tuesday to Sunday format from the normal Monday to Saturday schedule, the landmark event will expand to a record competitive distance of over 700 kilometres with a total of 2200 kilometres travelled around the island state.

It is expected that more than 400 entries across TARGA’s range of classes will see TARGA Tasmania 30 feature the largest motorsport competition field in the world.

Paying homage to the TARGA Tasmania event in 1992, the event will begin from the same location as the maiden rally in the heart of Launceston, outside the Grand Chancellor Hotel, then known as the Launceston International Hotel.

A cavalcade of motoring history will cross the start line on March 8, 2022, as the event continues to attract some of the finest motor vehicles ever made, both in the competitive rally section and the ever growing Tour, which attracts motor enthusiasts and their magnificent modern cars from leading prestige brands.

TARGA Tasmania has survived the peaks and troughs over time to become a key money-spinner for the state with a direct economic return of over $15 million that equates to over $310 million since 1992.

The impact of one of Australia’s most enduring motorsport events translates to more than 50,000 bed nights during event week.

Marking TARGA Tasmania 30 will be a return of a number of key routes that includes some iconic street stages.

TARGA chief executive Mark Perry confidently predicts the 30th anniversary event will continue the growth spurt of the internationally acclaimed rally.

“At that offical start back in 1992, no one would have been thinking about TARGA Tasmania still being around 30 years later in the 21st Century,” Perry said. “It promises something very special for all those involved and the people of Tasmania.

“The 10th and 20th anniversary events both broke all records with more than 300 cars competing, making TARGA Tasmania the largest tarmac rally in the world.

“It has been a tumultuous ten years since the 20th anniversary event culminating in the first ever cancellation last year right at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Time has shown it was the right call to make and the launching of our 30th event today gives everyone great hope of an exciting future ahead, for not only TARGA, but the many thousands of events trying to survive through these difficult times.

“It is very important to our communities and our culture to have events happening and whilst we all took them for granted before the pandemic, the amount of interest in TARGA Tasmania right now is unprecedented and hence we are opening entries to our keystone event today. 

“It promises to be hugely successful for all the communities we visit, with many returning competitors from the early years and whilst it is too early to say if our international guests can join us in 2022, we remain hopeful that given the profile of TARGA overseas that they can come and join in on the celebrations.”  

Ahead of TARGA Tasmania 30, the 29th edition of the event next month is secure. It has attracted a bumper field of entries as Tasmania gears up for the world’s most acclaimed tarmac rally from April 19-24.

*Click logo for hi-res version

See launch video here: https://youtu.be/FiL1tEPzL6k Broadcast quality footage available.

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

Quinn establishes commanding TARGA Championship points lead

Outstanding tarmac rally driver Tony Quinn holds a decisive lead in the coveted Modern Outright category of the 2021 Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship.

Following COVID-19 disruptions, the national TARGA title embraces the already run TARGA Great Barrier Reef (staged in September 2020), the recently completed TARGA High Country and the blue riband TARGA Tasmania scheduled from April 19 to 24.

Quinn brilliantly won the opening round in Queensland in his Nissan GT-R and followed that success with second outright at the rescheduled High Country event earlier this month, clawing his way back from fourth on the final day. He has been crewed each time by co-drivers Brian Foster and Kate Catford respectively.

From a maximum of 140 points, Quinn has accumulated 133 points ahead of the gruelling six-day TARGA Tasmania that will see competitors tackle 38 stages totaling more than 626 kilometres of competition.

Quinn is favourite to take his first Modern Outright national gong. The business and motor racing entrepreneur made a big splash at High Country with his Nissan, decorated for the first time in the striking fluro green colours.

That result came only days after it was announced that he had taken a 40 percent majority shareholding in the Brisbane-based Triple Eight Race Engineering Supercars squad.

The closest challenger is experienced dirt and tarmac rally driver Luke Anear, who with co-driver Andy Sarandis, sit on 90 points following solid results at both TARGA Great Barrier Reef and High Country.

A 43-point difference is decisive but by no means insurmountable given the unpredictability and relentless nature posed by the deciding TARGA Tasmania rally.

Quinn also leads GT Outright with a maximum haul of 140 points after winning the category at both TGBR and THC.

Melbourne-based Peter Gluskie and his regular co-driver Samantha Winter are leading Classic Outright after the opening two events of the three-event 2021 Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship.

The 1989 BMW 325i competitors are on 133 points, 32 ahead of Mark Griffith and Neil Woolley in their 1976 Datsun 1600.

Leaders in other classes are Tommy Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (GT Production), Bo Williams/Alice McKenzie (Early Modern 2), Dean Lillie/Steve Glenney and Andrew Horn/Sally Coning (equal in Early Modern 4), Peter Gluskie/Samantha Winter (Classic Handicap) and Mark Griffith/Neil Woolley (Classic GT).

The trophy class picture sees Darryl Marshall/Peter Marshall and Neville Emond/Stephen Jones share the lead in TSD Trophy, Paolo Buccini/Claire Buccini lead (GT Sports Trophy) while Tim Hall/Kym Hall and Brett Dillon/Geoffrey Corah are equal in Thoroughbred Trophy.

All classes will be decided at the forthcoming TARGA Tasmania.

The iconic event from April 19 to 24 has been heavily revised with a big increase in distance that sees the addition of new tests and old favorites. The opening stage of the event will be 5.80km run at High Plains.


Lillie wins on TARGA debut

Sunday February 7, 2021

Dean Lillie has pulled off a remarkable feat to win the Mt Buller-based TARGA High Country tarmac rally in north-east Victoria.

Entering his first TARGA event, Lillie and the experienced Steve Glenney prevailed in their 2007 Mitsubishi Evo X in the three-day rally that encompassed 16 competitive stages.

The Victorian was in sizzling form right from the opening day after a master display of control and speed on some of TARGA’S most challenging roads to win overall and also land the Dutton Garage Early Modern 4 category.

Lillie and Glenney produced a polished performance to win by two minutes 27 seconds. The pair also cruised to victory in Dutton Garage Early Modern 4, ending just under three minutes ahead.

Tony Quinn and Kate Catford improved from their fourth position overnight to claim second outright in their 2018 Nissan GT-R. Liam and Larry Howarth slipped back a position to be third overall.

However it was Lillie who stole the show with a flawless and measured run.

“I’ve wanted to do this event since I first came to the Mt Buller Sprint back in the early days,” Lillie said of his stunning TARGA debut.

“The car held up well and we drove the wheels off it ever since the opening day when it was wet.

“The twisty Jamieson and Eildon stages today really suited the Evo and Steve (Glenney) has done an amazing job on the other side of the car.”

Glenney, who has a wealth of experience as a driver and co-driver, said their explicit preparation has paid dividends.

“As with everything we do, we came prepared because we always want to do the best job we can,” Glenney said.

“I suppose you could call it a bit of a giant-killing performance but we are not surprised that we have done so well.”

The order in GT Outright was shaken up after the opening stage off Mt Buller when Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis suffered a puncture in their 2018 Mercedes AMG GT R, cruelly dropping the pair from the lead.

It left 2020 TARGA Great Barrier Reef winner Tony Quinn and his co-driver Kate Catford to take victory in their 2018 Nissan GT-R. Anear fought back strongly in an inspired drive to finish third just behind Thomas Monghan/Alan Stephenson’s 2015 Subaru WRX.

In Classic Handicap, Melbourne competitors Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter continued their dream form to win by forging clear in their 1989 BMW 325i to win by just over three minutes.

TARGA crews will now prepare for the next event, the showpiece TARGA Tasmania from April 19-24.

RESULTS FINAL (provisional)

1 Dean Lillie/Steve Glenney (2007 Mitsubishi Evo X)
2 Tony Quinn/Kate Catford (2018 Nissan GT-R R35) +2:27s
3 Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth (1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R) ++2:54s  
4 Geoffrey Hewitt/Toni Hewitt (2009 Nissan GT-R) +4:13s
5 Thomas Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX) +4.25s

Mt Buller GT Outright
1 Tony Quinn/Kate Catford (2018 Nissan GT-R R35)
2 Thomas Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX) +1:58s
3 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2018 Mercedes AMG GT T) +3:22s

Classic Handicap
1 Peter Gluskie/Samantha Winter (1989 BMW 325i)
2 Paul Byrne/Colin Byrne (1975 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000) +3:04s
3 Philip-Jon Buggee/Paul Freame (1975 Fiat 131) +7:01s

Mansfield Shire GT Production
1 Thomas Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX)
2 Barrie Smith/Dale Moscatt (2017 Audi TTRS) +2:03s
3 Michael Minshall/Julie Winton-Monet (2011 Audi TTRS) +9:55s

Classic GT
1 Roger Lomman/Anne Bainbridge (1972 Datsun 240z)
2 Adam Kaplan/Aleshia Penney (1988 HSV Walkinshaw) +1:06s
3 Mark Griffith/Neil Woolley (1976 Datsun 1600) +2:30:43s

Dutton Garage Early Modern 2
1 Adam Spence/Lee Challoner-Miles (2004 BMW M3 CSL)
2 Edward Merewether/Jennifer Gillott (2007 Renault Sport Megane F1 R26) +5:56s
3 David Blunden/Robert Sheppard (1997 Nissan Skyline) +7:36s 

Dutton Garage Early Modern 4
1 Dean Lillie/Steve Glenney (2007 Mitsubishi Evo X)
2 Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth (1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R) +2:54s
3 Geoffrey Hewitt/Toni Hewitt (2009 Nissan GT-R) +4:13s

Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy
1 Simon Trude/Dion Morrison (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport)
2 Robert Bryden/Ian Noble (2000 Lotus Exige) +25s
3 Steven Sher/Fergal Murphy (2016 Lotus Exige) +2:07s

Mansfield Shire Thoroughbred Trophy
1 Brett Dillon/Geoffrey Corah (1973 Alfa Romeo 105)
2 Laura Rogers/Gavin Rogers (1957 Austin Healey 100/6) +3:26s
3 Robert Greig/Stephen Harris (1971 Datsun 240z) +15.45

TSD Trophy
1 Neville Emond/Stephen Jones (1996 Volvo 850R) 41pts
2 Tracy Hoven/Garth Davies (2018 Alpine A110) 43pts
3 Shane Navin/Glenn Evans (2018 Volkswagen Golf R) 55pts


Lillie protects High Country overall advantage

Saturday February 6, 2021

The dream run of Dean Lillie and co-driver Steve Glenney has seen the pair edge to a decisive lead in overall standings after the second day of TARGA High Country.

Lillie and Glenney, in their 2007 Mitsubishi Evo X, have been in scintillating form across the opening two days, powering away from some of their more fancied rivals.

Following a day of eight competitive stages, the pair have squeezed out their lead to a one minute 12 seconds from Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis, driving a 2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R. Liam and Larry Howarth are producing an impressive drive in their 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R, and are just one second further back in third.

Lillie and Glenney also have a one minute 13 second lead over the Howarth Nissan in Dutton Garage Early Modern 4.

There was a concerted push from experienced rally ace Anear, in the 2018 Mercedes AMG GT R, who has moved to second place overall from his overnight sixth placing. He also leads GT Outright by 21 seconds from 2020 TARGA Great Barrier Reef winner Tony Quinn and Kate Catford (2018 Nissan GT-R). Quinn is fourth in overall standings.

Anear said that as the day went on he found his rhythm.

“We are still learning how the car handles and the right suspension set-up,” Anear said.

“Everything stage is a learning stage. But I think we are in pretty good shape for tomorrow.

“We lost a lot of time yesterday in the rain. I’d never driven it in wet weather and it wasn’t a lot of fun going up and down the mountain yesterday.”

In Classic Handicap Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1989 BMW 325i) moved into the lead early in the day and finished with a handy one minute six seconds buffer from Nik Prieston and Dylan Braithwaite (1976 Fiat 131 Abarth Rallye).

Adam Spence and co-driver Lee Challoner-Miles continued to open up the gap in Dutton Garage Early Modern 2 to lead by two minutes 40 seconds in their newly acquired 2004 BMW M3 CSL.

In Classic GT, Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney (1988 HSV Walkinshaw) have spread-eagled the depleted field to lead by more than 12 minutes.

Thomas Monaghan and Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX) are clutching a tidy lead of 46 seconds in Mansfield Shire GT Production.

In Mt Buller TSD Trophy, Neville Emond and Stephen Jones (1996 Volvo 850R) passed through stages eight and nine without penalty to lead the way with 19 points. 

Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy is led by Simon Trude and Dion Morrison (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) who have a 20 second lead.

RESULTS – END OF DAY 2 of 3 (Provisional)

1 Dean Lillie/Steve Glenney (2007 Mitsubishi Evo X)
2 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2018 Mercedes AMG GT R) +1:12s
3 Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth (1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R) +1:13s 
4 Tony Quinn/Kate Catford (2018 Nissan GT-R R35) +1:33s
5 Thomas Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX) +1:53s
6 Geoffrey Hewitt/Toni Hewitt (2009 Nissan GT-R) +2:11s

Mt Buller GT Outright
1 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2018 Mercedes AMG GT R) 
2 Tony Quinn/Kate Catford (2018 Nissan GT-R R35) +21s
3 Thomas Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX) +41s

Classic Handicap
1 Peter Gluskie/Samantha Winter (1989 BMW 325i) 
2 Nik Prieston/Dylan Braithwaite (1976 Fiat 131 Abarth Rallye) +1:06s
3 Brian Dermott/Linda Dermott (1961 Austin Healey 3000 Mk2) +2:39s

Mansfield Shire GT Production
1 Thomas Monaghan/Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX)
2 Barrie Smith/Dale Moscatt (2017 Audi TTRS) +46s
3 Maxwell Williams/Peter Bush (2013 Audi TTRS) +1:46s

Classic GT
1 Adam Kaplan/Aleshia Penney (HSV Walkinshaw)
2 Roger Lomman/Anne Bainbridge (1972 Datsun 240z) +12:29s

Dutton Garage Early Modern 2
1 Adam Spence/Lee Challoner-Miles (2004 BMW M3 CSL)
2 Edward Merewether/Jennifer Gillott (2007 Renault Sport Megane F1 R26) +2:40s
3 Stephen Crowe/Richard Crowe (1998 Mazda RX-7) +3:27s

Dutton Garage Early Modern 4
1 Dean Lillie/Steve Glenney (2007 Mitsubishi Evo X)
2 Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth (1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R) +1:13s
3 Geoffrey Hewitt/Toni Hewitt (2009 Nissan GT-R) +2:11s

Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy
1 Simon Trude/Dion Morrison (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport)
2 Robert Bryden/Ian Noble (2000 Lotus Exige) +20s
3 Steven Sher/Fergal Murphy (2016 Lotus Exige) +1:32s

Mansfield Shire Thoroughbred Trophy
1 John Stanton/Philip Blake (1981 Porsche 924 Turbo)
2 Brett Dillon/Geoffrey Corah (1973 Alfa Romeo 105) +1:23s
3 Laura Rogers/Gavin Rogers (1957 Austin Healey 100/6) +2:06s

TSD Trophy
1 Neville Emond/Stephen Jones (1996 Volvo 850R) 19pts
2 Shane Navin/Glenn Evans (2018 Volkswagen Golf R) 24pts
3 Tracy Hoven/Garth Davies (2018 Alpine A110) 25pts

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


Wild Weather lashes TARGA High Country Start


UK-sourced lightweight M3 to debut at High Country




TARGA High Country marks midpoint in Championship


Quinn spearheads TARGA High Country entries


TARGA 2020 for rookies


TARGA High Country 2020 Postponed

After the stunning success of running TARGA Great Barrier Reef last month in spite of the current COVID-19 restrictions, we have remained extremely hopeful of being able to run TARGA High Country in mid-November.  Unfortunately, Victoria is in a different situation to Queensland at the moment and with still uncertain signs on the horizon; along with a clear window of opportunity to simply move the event dates; we have today taken the decision to postpone the running of the 11th TARGA High Country to 5 to 7 February 2021.

Even though Victoria may be re-opened by mid-November, it is clear already that most other states will continue to insist on 14 days of quarantining for anyone who visits Victoria from another state, which severely hinders a number of people from attending this event.  In moving the date back, not weeks but months, it will give us the best opportunity to ensure that TARGA High Country will be as big as it has been over a number of years with more than 150 cars turning up to compete and another 50 enjoying the TARGA Tour experience.

Thank you to the many customers who have reached out since TARGA Great Barrier Reef to acknowledge our `against the odds’ delivery of our Cairns based event and if we had the same level of confidence in the COVID situation in Victoria, we would continue to push ahead with our plans.  The reality of greater confidence coming in 2021; which in turn will hopefully see more competitors able to attend; has made the decision at this point to postpone the event an obvious one.

With the event now pushed back a few months, we will re-open Early Bird entries until Midnight this Friday 9 October. Be sure to grab the discount this week, simply by entering and paying your deposit.  Entries will now close on 15 January 2021. We sincerely appreciate your ongoing support in what has been a very unique year for everyone.  A year that for TARGA has seen a cancellation, a successful running and now a postponement in the ever-changing landscape of COVID restrictions and border closures.

Enter here.


TARGA Great Barrier Reef secured for three more years

Following on from the running of a successful TARGA Great Barrier Reef this month, a new three-year deal has been made with both state and local governments which secures the event’s future in Tropical North Queensland until at least 2023. 

The Cairns-based event started in 2018 and for much of 2020, the final year of the initial three-year government contract, it looked in doubt because of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis both in Australia and overseas.

But TARGA Australia managed to restructure its rally and the associated activities to pull off a COVID-compliant event warmly received by the competitors and the community.

TARGA Australia CEO, Mark Perry, said he was thrilled that the 2020 event had proceeded and delighted to know TARGA Great Barrier Reef had a strong future with the on-going commitment of both Tourism and Events Queensland and the Cairns Regional Council.

“The on-going support from Tourism and Events Queensland and the Cairns Regional Council is absolutely fantastic and allows us to continue to plan for the future,” Perry said.

“We are enormously grateful to the Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation, Kate Jones, and also to Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning.

“This region is the perfect location for an event like ours. Great roads, welcoming communities and the real ability to bring economic benefits to the regional areas around Cairns as well as to the city itself.

“There is no doubt getting the event in 2020 off the ground pushed us to the limit, but we were absolutely determined to do it,” Perry said.

“We had great support from the local volunteers and from our Queensland competitor base, and we even had a few from interstate go into quarantine just to make it to the start line.

“And the old adage that necessity is the mother of all invention made us look at things differently in 2020. As we were unable to run the highly successful TARGAFest on The Esplanade, we decided to take the cars to the people instead with the 27-kilometre TARGAcavalcade through the suburbs and the city.”

“That innovation has received rave reviews, so we will certainly look to keep it place for future as well as hopefully bringing TARGAfest back in 2021.”

“We can’t thank everyone enough for helping us keep TARGA Great Barrier Reef alive in 2020, and I’m absolutely convinced that the event has a big future.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the event had performed strongly over the past three years, delivering more than $3 million and 8700 visitor nights for local businesses in 2019.

“This government has a clear strategy to rebuild our economy and safeguard local jobs. Events will play an important part in our plan,” he said.

“Despite the impact of COVID-19, this year’s rally hosted hundreds of drivers and support crews from around Australia.

“Today I’m happy to confirm we’ve inked a deal to keep this event running – pumping millions of dollars into local businesses – from 2021 to 2023.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said motor rallies had huge appeal throughout Australia.

“No other tarmac motor rally race overlooks the Great Barrier Reef and takes in the amazing scenery of the Coral Sea coastline between Tully and Port Douglas,” she said.

“This event provide thousands of tourists yet another reason to come to the Far North.”

Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the organisation was delighted to extend its support to TARGA Great Barrier Reef.

“Cairns has a reputation for delivering world-class sporting events which will be crucial for the economic recovery of the region,” he said.

Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning, was also delighted that event will call his city home for an extended period.

“It is fantastic that Cairns will be home to the TARGA Great Barrier Reef tarmac rally for another three years,” Mayor Manning said.

“This Council is committed to supporting high profile and successful events that are of public interest, attract visitors to our region and lift community spirit.

“The value of events tourism – in particular sports tourism – cannot be understated, and the inclusion of TARGA Great Barrier Reef continues to build on our reputation as the home of dynamic and prized events.

“Over the past three years, this event has become a ‘must-do’ on the rally circuit and I am confident it will continue to grow; not surprising when you consider there is no other place in Australia offers such a breathtaking backdrop for such an iconic event.”

The 2021 running of TARGA Great Barrier Reef is set for September 3 to 5 next year, with the 2022 event scheduled for September 2 to 4 and 2023 for September 1 to 3.


Race for TARGA Championship points off and running

Competitors have banked their first allocation of points towards the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship following the maiden TARGA event of 2020, TARGA Great Barrier Reef in Cairns recently.

At the top of the leaderboard across the categories there is a mix of familiar and fresh faces.

Circuit and TARGA veteran Tony Quinn and co-driver Brian Foster are the leaders in Modern Outright following their all-the-way win in North Queensland in their 2018 Nissan GT-R.

They have accumulated 70 points to lead Modern Outright by seven points from Atherton Tablelands pair Andrew Horn and Sally Coning (1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V).

Quinn/Foster also have a seven point edge over Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis in GT Outright after the latter’s Mercedes AMG GT-R encountered a glitch which starved the supercar of producing full power in its TARGA debt.

Classic Outright sees Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i) in the lead from Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX-7) by seven points respectively.

The standings are the same for the Classic class as well.

The results were rich reward for the Melbourne pair who went to extraordinary lengths to gain exemptions and quarantine in the lead-up to the event which was hit with a depleted field due to the border restrictions.

In the other classes, well-known Sunshine Coast car collector Dan Bowden and co-driver Tiffanie Hepburn (1965 Ford Shelby Mustang) leads the standings in Classic GT on 70 points with Mark Griffith and Ryan Preston (1969 Datsun 1600 SSS) on 63 points following the non-finish of several leading competitors.

Cairns builder Steve Van der Brug and Linda Rankine (2009 Subaru WRX STi) are on top of the GT Production standings with 70 points, 7 ahead of fellow Cairns competitor Murray Young and Scott Griffin who debuted their 2012 BMW M3.

Following dramas on the final day, Bo Williams and Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3) eventually made it to the final time control to earn maximum points to lead the1993 Daihatsu Charade pair of Michael and Brian Walsh in Early Modern 2.

The Early Modern 4 standings see Andrew Horn and Sally Coning top the class on 70 points ahead of Gregg and Callum Taylor (2008 Subaru WRX) on 63 points.

The hard working combination of Darryl and Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute) lead TSD Trophy standings by seven points from Agim Selita and Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5).

Marshall and the BMW pair were locked in a tight battle on the final day, both conceding just two points each in the highly competitive class.

“We were trying a new timer in the car and were getting used to the way it counts down and it was a matter of fine-tuning. But we managed to find the sweet spot,” Darryl Marshall said.

The situation in the other trophy classes sees Wayne Udy and Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) lead GT Sports Trophy after their remarkable run at TARGA Great Barrier Reef where they were third outright. The pair are on 70 points with Rob Oshlack and Neysa Ellison (2017 Ford Focus RS), seven points back in second. While in Thoroughbred Trophy, Tim and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) claimed the maximum 70 points to lead Paul Frank and Leo Rodriguez 1988 Mazda RX-7 who earned 63 points.

The Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship will continue with Round 2 at TARGA High Country which will be based in Mansfield/Mt Buller in Victoria from November 13-15.

View the current points table here.


Imperious Quinn spears to Great Barrier Reef victory

Tony Quinn has stormed to a commanding win at the third edition of TARGA Great Barrier Reef in Cairns.

The experienced high profile Queensland businessman and co-driver Brian Foster mastered the 18-stage event to win by just over four minutes.

Quinn’s only realistic challenger, the Mercedes AMG GT R of Luke Anear and Andy Sarandis speared off on the second stage of the final day, suffering radiator damage.

While Anear rejoined the event with a patched-up Merc, it left the rapid and robust 2018 Nissan GT-R R35 with a commanding lead ahead of the final four stages of the popular tarmac rally.

Quinn was in supreme form when it counted on the final day by topping four of the six Tablelands tests to take the Outright win as well as the It’s Live in Queensland GT Outright classes.

“We just kept it nice and clean on the long stages today and the rest took care of itself,” Quinn, a two-times TARGA Tasmania winner, said.

“It is a real thrill to win TARGA Great Barrier Reef which is a great event that has a positive effect on the local community.

“The Nissan didn’t miss a beat over the three days and is really suited to the roads around Cairns.”

In an incredible outcome, the GT Trophy Class Lotus Exige of Wayne Udy and Mia Williams finished second Outright on top of easily winning their speed limited class.

Tony and Sandra Seymour were in second before their Lotus Exige stopped on the penultimate stage.

It left the remaining Outright podium position to be taken by Tablelands local Andrew Horn and Sally Coning in their 1998 Mitsubishi Evo V, a result that saw them take their Dutton Garage Early Modern 4 class.

For Quinn, who led from day one on Friday, it sealed a rare double after taking victory on the streets of Townsville’s Reid Park circuit the previous weekend in an Aston Martin.

While several of the top TARGA competitors were missing due to travel restrictions including the powerful Dodge Viper of Jason White, Quinn took full advantage by rifling through the final stages on the Tablelands.

With the Leg 2 withdrawals through mechanical issues of the Anthony Genocchio and Robert Horsfall and Jon and Gina Siddins machines, Shannons Classic GT was taken out by well-known Sunshine Coast car collector Dan Bowden.

The 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350 he shared with Tiffanie Hepburn landed the spoils in the popular category by more than three and a half minutes.

Shannons Classic Handicap duo of Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i) were never headed to lead from the outset and win the class by just over one minute.

The Victorian pair were richly rewarded for their efforts after undertaking the mandatory quarantine process in order to take their place in the field.

Cairns builder Steve Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine guided his 2009 Subaru WRX STi to victory in Cairns Regional Council GT Production by almost seven minutes over fellow Cairns competitor Murray Young and Scott Griffin (2012 BMW M3). Van der Brug was also fourth outright.

After an accident on the Millaa Milla  in their 2001 BMW M3, Darryl Marshall and co-driver Peter Marshall confirmed their standing as the masters of the points-based Cairns Regional Council TSD Trophy class.

Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute 250) built victory on minimising mistakes that limited his penalties to low single figures on each of the 18 tests.

In the end the Marshalls ended with 22 points, to beat Agim Selita and Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5)  who finished on 31 Points.

Tim and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) landed the honours in Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy.


Quinn on target for maiden Great Barrier Reef crown

TOP businessman Tony Quinn completed a flawless day to head the field after Day 2 of TARGA Great Barrier Reef.

Quinn and his fellow Queensland co-driver Brian Foster exploited their experience to withstand a strong challenge and lead outright standings and GT Outright classification.

The TARGA stalwart has forged a strong affinity with his 2018 Nissan GT-R R35 which has proven reliable, tough and swift on the challenging North Queensland tarmac.

“The car is going gangbusters and we’ve had no problems,” Quinn said.

“It’s steady as she goes and we are looking forward to another trouble-free day tomorrow.”

Snapping at the heels of the Nissan is the AMG GT R in the hands of driver Luke Anear and co-driver Andy Sarandis who are 37 seconds behind the Quinn combination.

Ironically it is the same margin Quinn held after the opening day from Tony and Sandra Seymour who now find themselves in third outright in their 2013 Lotus Exige, but now more than a minute further back.

Anear’s high performance Mercedes coupe is doing battle in its first TARGA event which has proven technically challenging for its crew.

The GT R is not producing its full complement of horsepower which has hampered the full potential of the machine, however Anear made strong inroads across the six-stage day taking 15 seconds from Quinn which will give him some hope of closing the gap on the final day.

Jon and Gina Siddins started to fire in the Classic GT category however their run sadly came to an abrupt end with mechanical issues in their 1970 Datsun 240Z after lunch.

That left the highly consistent Anthony Genocchio and Robert Horsall (1983 Holden Commodore VH) with a massive 13-plus minute lead over Dan Bowen and Tiffany Hepburn’s 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang.

Victorians Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter have extended their advantage to hold a comfortable lead in Classic Handicap.

The BMW 325i pair are up by one minute and 23 seconds over Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX7).

GT Production leader and Cairns local Steve Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine have a tidy three minute 48 second advantage over Murray Young and Scott Griffin’s 2012 BMW M3. 

Bo Williams and Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3) lead Early Modern 2 while Early Modern 4 is topped by Andrew Horn and Sally Coning in a 1998 Mitsubishi Evo 5.

Darryl Marshall and co-driver Peter Marshall are engaged in an arm wrestle in the points-based TSD Trophy section of the event. The Marshalls are nine points up on Agim Selita/Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5).

Leaders in the other trophy classes, include Wayne Udy and Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) while Tim and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) top Thoroughbred Trophy.

Remarkably, Udy is in fourth outright in what many are calling the drive of the event.


Mercedes AMG GT R set for tropical TARGA tilt

The highly anticipated TARGA debut of the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R is set to ignite the sharp end of the field at the Cairns-based leg of the Championship from September 4 to 6.

Following sweeping changes to TARGA’S technical regulations for 2020, the hero of the AMG GT range will contest the GTO (outright) class for the first time in the high profile national tarmac rally competition.

Driver Luke Anear has taken the plunge in swapping the 2015 Subaru WRX, which he piloted to the 2019 Motorsport Australia GT4 Championship, for the technically advanced Mercedes.

Sourced by Launceston Mercedes dealer Buckby Motors, the GT R has been specifically redesigned and prepared for TARGA competition on challenging Australian roads.

Tasmanian Jason White, driver of TARGA’S most rapid weapon of recent seasons – the Dodge Viper, has constructed the rollcage for the Mercedes while Peter Nunn Motorsport has poured hundreds of hours of painstaking preparation into Anear’s new ride.

The GT R’s undercarriage has been completely replaced with acclaimed Dutch company Reiger’s suspension and dampers. 

“We sent over the original GT R suspension to Reiger in The Netherlands where they designed a whole new suspension and shock set-up,” Anear explained.

“This is the first time that Reiger has designed a suspension for an AMG GT R.

“I haven’t driven it with the new set-up yet so we will find out how it performs at TARGA Great Barrier Reef. The Reiger suspension will allow us to hit the bumps and jumps at speed.

“Peter Nunn Motorsport has done all the prep work on the car, spending hundreds of hours and Jason White took the roof off and built the roll cage.

“It was a big job by Whitey involving about 450 hours work to build a cage that fits right into the chassis of the car.”

Anear’s only handling of the car was a few runs at Tasmania’s Poatina Hillclimb event in early March when the GT R was sprung with its factory AMG-tuned suspension.

Regular co-driver Alan Stephenson is unable to make the journey from Sydney to North Queensland due to border restrictions with Anear confirming top Adelaide co-driver Andy Sarandis as his replacement.

The Anear/Stephenson combination won GT4 at TARGA Great Barrier Reef in 2019 and were classified in fourth outright behind Jason and John White (Viper) in outright standings.

Anear maintains he is committed to pushing the new machine to its limits.

“We don’t want to sit back and use this as a practice run.

“We will be going as quick as we can and see if we can put some good times in.

“It’s important we use this time to get as much data on the car and understand how it performs with tyre wear throughout the weekend.

“Whitey’s Viper has been the car to beat the last couple of years and he had a lot of speed and we know what his times are from this event last year.”

While the Viper has not been able to make the trip from Tasmania for TARGA Great Barrier Reef, the GTO list includes perennial TARGA competitor Tony Quinn and co-driver Brian Foster in a 2018 Nissan GT-R R35 and Queenslanders Tony and Sandra Seymour in a 2013 Lotus Exige.


Siddins primed to entertain at home state TARGA

Datsun Team 240z charger Jon Siddins is ready for a reversal of fortune in TARGA Great Barrier Reef to be held this week in Cairns from September 4 to 6.

Handling one of the crowd-pleasing machines of TARGA Classic GT competition, Siddins and co-driving wife Gina have arrived ahead of schedule for the popular Far North Queensland tarmac rally.

After being forced to miss the inaugural Cairns-based event in 2018, the Siddins duo are keen to make amends from a premature departure last year in their rapid 1970 Datsun 240Z.

The pair, based at Oxenford on the Gold Coast, had an off-course excursion on stage 9, the 6.85km North Johnstone test, in 2019 after performing solidly on the opening day. 

“The damage looked far worse than it really was,” Jon Siddins said.

“While the spoiler was beyond repair, the guards and bonnet just needed fibre-glass repairs and thankfully there was no damage underneath.”

The Siddins’ entry is one of the spearheads of the hugely popular Classic GT section which traditionally highlights some of the best machinery predominantly from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

“We headed off a week early and stopped in Townsville before driving on up to Cairns,” Gina Siddins said 

“We really want to support the Cairns region and the tourism there.

“As we’ve said to the organisers, we will do everything we can to promote the area and promote the event.”

Innisfail competitor Anthony Genocchio and co-driver Robert Horsfall finished second in the class last year in their 1983 Holden Commodore VH.

Genocchio finished just over three minutes astern of Classic GT star Mick Downey who has been unable to make the event this year from Victoria.

“It definitely helps knowing the roads up there and he (Genocchio) was strong last year so we will have to be on our game,” Jon Siddins said.

Recently the Siddins duo took the TARGA Z car and another Z to Morgan Park for separate track events.

“Jon took the TARGA Z up to Morgan Park for the inter-club Porsche challenge.

“We took another Z car up there for the sprints which has got 30 years worth of development in it.

“The set-up that Jon does is absolutely amazing. That car could drive itself around that track. 

“You can’t fathom how good the set-up is in the car’s that Jon prepares for TARGA and for the circuit.”


Quinn sets cracking pace in tropics

Experienced racer Tony Quinn has produced a storming start to set an early marker at TARGA Great Barrier Reef.

After departing the ceremonial start at the Reef Hotel & Casino, Quinn and co-driver Brian Foster mounted an immediate challenge in their Nissan GT-R R35.

Quinn, a double Targa Tasmania champion, launched his day by blitzing the consecutive Gillies Range and Lake Eacham stages, completing the day with a 37 second lead.

The ideal start from the canny Scottish expat continues his sizzling form that saw him a winner in an Aston Martin on the streets of Townsville the previous weekend.

Tony and Sandra Seymour maintained a solid day by claiming the Little Mulgrave stage win which helped the Lotus Exige crew stay within striking distance of the Nissan.

It was a strong TARGA debut for the stunning Mercedes AMG GT R with driver Luke Anear and co-driver Andy Sarandis ideally positioned to pounce.

Anear enters Day 2 third in outright and GTO classification with a promise of more pace to come from the Stuttgart-born supercar.

After a tense fight developed in Classic GT, Anthony Genocchio/Robert Horsfall (1983 Commodore VH Group III SS) speared to a comfortable lead following the final stage of the day.

The pair lead Gold Coast combination of Jon and Gina Siddins, in their beautifully presented 1970 Datsun 240Z by 11 seconds.

Cairns driver Steve Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine (2009 Subaru WRX STi) have a comfortable lead in GT Production.

Fellow Cairns competitor Murray Young, debuting his freshly acquired BMW M3, is second just under 2:30 seconds back.

Victorian pair Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i) have built a 1:49s lead in Classic Handicap over Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX7).

Bo Williams/Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3) are the sole survivors in Early Modern 2 while Andrew Horn and Sally Coning (1998 Mitsubishi Evo V) are 1:32sec ahead of Townsville-based Aaron Dunkerton and Brisbane’s Matt Davidson (2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII).

In the trophy classes, Wayne Udy and Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) lead GT Sports Trophy, the Thoroughbred Trophy sees Tim Hall and Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) hold a commanding lead while TSD Trophy is headed by Darryl and Peter Marshall (Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute).

The competition moves south tomorrow with six stages based around the Cassowary Coast region starting with Bamboo Creek (5.5km) with the first competition cars set to start from 9am.

Results – end of day 1 of 3 (Provisional)

1 Tony Quinn/Brian Foster (2018 Nissan GT-R R35)
2 Tony Seymour/Sandra Seymour (2013 Lotus Exige) +37s
3 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2019 Mercedes AMG GT R) +52s
4 Wayne Udy/Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) +1:03s
5 Anthony Genocchio/Robert Horsfall (1983 Holden Commodore VH) +2:07s

It’s Live GT In Queensland GT Outright
1 Tony Quinn/Brian Foster (2018 Nissan GT-R R35)
2 Tony Seymour/Sandra Seymour (2013 Lotus Exige) +37s
3 Luke Anear/Andy Sarandis (2019 Mercedes AMG GT R) +52s

Shannons Classic Handicap
1 Peter Gluskie/Samantha Winter (1985 BMW 325i)
2 Lindsay Stone/Simon Martin (1989 Mazda RX7) +1:49s

Cairns Regional Council GT Production
1 Steve Van der Brug/Linda Rankine (2009 Subaru WRX STi)
2 Murray Young/Scott Griffin (2012 BMW M3) +3:58s

Shannons Classic GT
1 Anthony Genocchio/Robert Horsfall (1983 Holden Commodore VH) 
2 Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins (1970 Datsun 240Z) +11s
3 Mark Griffith/Ryan Preston (1969 Datsun 1600SSS) +1:09.16s

Dutton Garage Early Modern 2
1 Bo Williams/Dirk Witteveen (2001 BMW M3)

Dutton Garage Early Modern 4
1 Andrew Horn/Sally Coning (1998 Mitsubishi Evo V)
2 Aaron Dunkerton/Matt Davidson (2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII) +1:32s
3 Graeme Colls/Sandra Colls (1997 Subaru WRX STi)  +1:50s

Reef Hotel & Casino GT Sports Trophy
1 Wayne Udy/Mia Williams (2019 Lotus Exige 410 Sport) 
2 Gwesyn Dalliston/Rob Goodwin (2003 Nissan 350Z Track) +1:31s
3 Rob Oshlack/Neysa Ellison (2017 Ford Focus RS) +1:56s

Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy
1 Tim Hall/Kym Hall (1980 Holden Commodore) 
2 Paul Frank/Leo Rodriguez (1988 Mazda RX7) +1:22.59s

Cairns Regional Council TSD Trophy
1 Darryl Marshall/Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute 250) 9 points
2 Agim Selita/Gezim Bashi (2007 BMW M5) 12 
3 Robert Nash/Keira Nash (2010 Lexus ISF) 68


Local driver ready for ‘TARGA’ fun ride

TARGA convert and Cairns builder Steve Van der Brug is eager for the field to blast off after months of frustration during the COVID-19 crisis.

Van der Brug and co-driver Linda Rankine are among several leading contenders in the GT Production category in their Subaru WRX STI.

The Far North Queenslander has been bitten by the TARGA bug since the high profile national tarmac rally Championship first came to Cairns in 2018.

After competing in the four-round Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship last year, including the season-ending snow-hit High Country event at Mt Buller in Victoria, Van der Brug has been counting down the days to his home event.

“We were basically ready to go for Targa Tasmania a few months ago but with all the COVID stuff going on and border closures it just wasn’t possible for that event to go ahead,” Van der Brug said.

“It is a huge relief that TARGA is able to continue with Great Barrier Reef and now we just want to get in there and drive.”

While keen to be competitive, Van der Brug maintains that his passion for TARGA is all about the fun factor.

“We are just steady as she goes and we are there to have fun more than anything. Obviously the faster you go the more fun it is,” Van der Brug said.

Van der Brug is particularly looking forward to the second day of competition which will take the TARGA field to the Cassowary Coast region for the first time.

“There’s plenty of really nice stages. I went and had a look at Innisfail a couple of weeks ago which looks pretty interesting,” he said.

“Everyone is sports starved up here in Cairns so I’m sure the community is ready to get behind TARGA in a big way.”


Dunkerton steps out of the shadow

Prominent Cairns lawyer Aaron Dunkerton will fly the family name at the third edition of TARGA Great Barrier Reef from September 4 to 6.

Dunkerton will campaign the 2003 Mitsubishi Evo VIII which was driven to a podium finish last year in the Early Modern class by his famous father, five-times Australian Rally Champion, Ross Dunkerton.

Dunkerton senior remains involved at TARGA Great Barrier Reef as the driver of the 0 car, which inspects the stages at speed ahead of the field being cleared to tackle the stage tests.

Aaron Dunkerton is excited at the prospects of stepping into the Evo which he feels should give him a decent shot at the Early Modern 4 category which is reserved for all-wheel-drive machinery.

“I drove the Subi (2006 WRX STi) last year and it is really a Group N gravel rally car,” Dunkerton said.

“The Evo should be a bit quicker because it is set-up for these type of competitions being a purpose-built tarmac car.”

In the Early Modern competition at the Cairns-based event last year the Dunkertons were engaged in a gripping fight, with Ross eventually prevailing by 44 seconds to claim third over his legal eagle son.

“For the first two days I was giving dad a hard time but then experience prevailed on the third leg,” Dunkerton said.

“Dad pipped me at the last minute but I think that was to be expected.”

Dunkerton, like the remainder of the TARGA family, has been eagerly looking forward for the discipline’s first event of the year.

“We’ve been counting down the days and it’s great the event is running when so many others aren’t,” he said.

“The Evo is ready to rumble so fingers crossed we will have a good run. I’ve just got to make sure I don’t bend it.”

Dunkerton’s co-driver from last year, Matt Davidson, will make the journey north from Brisbane to call the pace notes in the 18-stage event that will see the second day of stages embrace the Cassowary Coast region for the first time. 


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.


TARGAfest to become TARGAcavalcade

If you can’t bring the people to the cars, bring the cars to the people. Which is exactly what we’ll be doing at TARGA Great Barrier Reef. Changing the annual TARGAfest gathering of cars and fans on The Esplanade in Cairns to a tour of the field passing through the suburbs.

Called the TARGAcavalcade, the multi-million dollar field of the world’s best cars will travel a set 27-kilometre drive through Cairns on Saturday September 5, giving a chance for locals to witness the impressive collection right from their front yards.

The route has been designed to ensure that a number of suburbs are included in TARGA Great Barrier Reef for the first time, with the TARGAcavalcade starting in Edmonton and heading north before finally finishing at Cairns Showgrounds.  The first cars are scheduled to depart Edmonton at approximately 3.40pm on the middle day of the rally, Saturday September 5 

Residents will be able to have front yard BBQ’s and enjoy the free show drive straight past their front door with horns beeping and lots of waving. There will also be a number of key spots on the route where small groups of people will be able to gather with their fold out chairs and watch the cars come past in part of a one hour show.

CEO Mark Perry said that while the response to coronavirus crisis has seen many events and large gatherings cancelled, TARGA was determined to proceed and ensure that the people of Cairns had an opportunity to see the cars up close given the highly successful TARGAfest could not be held this year.

“We needed to think outside the square,” Perry said. “With the cancellation of a number of events in Cairns because of the pandemic, we are determined to proceed with ours even with the travel restrictions for Victoria, NSW & the ACT impacting some competitors attending. 

“We are a unique event that sees people spread far and wide over literally hundreds of kilometres and therefore avoiding a number of social distancing challenges associated with most events.

“The introduction of the TARGAcavalacade to take TARGA to the people avoids the mass gathering issues associated with holding TARGAfest on The Esplanade.  This will ensure that the residents of Cairns and car lovers from across the region will still get to see the TARGA cars close up.  It will be a fantastic day for families to get together and enjoy a brand new free event in Cairns.”

TARGA Great Barrier Reef will be the first TARGA event of the year, with TARGA Tasmania cancelled in April because of the pandemic. The event commences on Friday September 4 and will conclude on Sunday September 6.


New team member – Kevin Nicholls

We are extremely excited to announce Kevin Nicholls has joined the TARGA team to help build the brand in growing corporate and VIP experiences. 

Kevin brings a wealth of automotive marketing and events experience to TARGA, having previously held senior management positions with Porsche and Jaguar over the last 20 years across the UK, USA and Australia. Kevin played a key role in the introduction of Porsche customer experience events (Porsche TARGA Tours) at TARGA Tasmania in 2010, an event that has grown substantially over the last ten years to now include many more Porsche customers across all TARGA events.

When it comes to delivering high end corporate and VIP driving experiences Kevin is an industry leader, and we are looking forward to working with and learning from Kevin in the months and years ahead.

If you have any interest in our newly released TARGA Tour packages or have friends, family and/or colleagues that you would love to introduce to your exciting world of TARGA, simply reach out to Kevin via email; kevin@targa.com.au


TARGA Great Barrier Reef COVID-19 Update

There is no doubt that these are challenging times for everyone, regardless of what we do in our lives.  The recent announcements from Queensland in relation to Victoria & Sydney has prompted a number of calls and emails to us in relation to TARGA Great Barrier Reef.  We feel sincerely sorry for those who cannot attend the event at this point in time and hope that the situation changes shortly to enable attendance. 

We encourage you to explore your exemption options as a number of sports people have been given exemptions in recent weeks to compete in their chosen sport in Queensland.  This is something you need to do yourself and is not something we can apply for as an event, has been our advice.  Some competitors are already undertaking this process.

Our main aim at the moment is to do everything we can to have all of the people and infrastructure we need in Cairns to put on TARGA Great Barrier Reef for the many people who can still attend, including the more than 80 Queensland based entries.  It is important that we continue to do all we can to ensure the events success, even if it does end up being smaller in scale than a normal TARGA event. 

Regions like Cairns have been hit very hard and with all other events normally held at this time of the year already cancelled, we would love to be the one that brings some fun and enjoyment back to the region.  We have the total support of the Cairns Regional Council and Tourism & Events Queensland to continue on with our plans to run this year’s event.

Naturally, if you find yourself residing in an area that cannot currently travel to Queensland and you cannot secure an exemption to attend the event, we will transfer your entry payment to a future TARGA event over the next 12 months, including next years TARGA Great Barrier Reef. Please contact megan@targa.com.au to arrange this.  All other withdrawals will be treated in the normal manner.

In closing, a quick reminder that this is a fast changing situation, so we encourage you to explore all of your options and work out when is the latest date you need to make a decision on your trip to Cairns (and the transport of your car).  We will keep you updated each week on the situation as it comes to hand, keeping in mind that we only learn of the changes at the same time as you do, so we ask that you give us a day or so to address the impacts of any changes when they are announced.

We look forward to hopefully seeing you in Cairns in early September.    



We salute you Stirling Moss for choosing to include TARGA Tasmania in your stellar career.

For John Large and myself, a chance meeting with Stirling and Suzie Moss, at the 1991 Adelaide Formula One Grand Prix, ignited Stirling’s desire to compete in our new Event on the World Motor Sport stage – TARGA Tasmania 1992.

Stirling quickly grasped the uniqueness of the Competition – he tagged the TARGA Trophy base time trophy concept as brilliant.

As negotiations became official, Suzie was also swept up in the journey to down under.

Their LHD Shelby Mustang arriving in plenty of time for the inaugural Event in April, 1992.

As promoters of a brand new motor sport event, to have Stirling and his wife, standing alongside three former World Champions of the Sport, was every promoter’s dream.

Like Sir Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme and Roger Clark, they knuckled down to the high level of competition from the locals.

Having immersed themselves in the people of Tasmania’s obvious passion for this unique Event, they won their Class and a TARGA Trophy, returning to Europe, singing the praises of TARGA Tasmania as a must do motor sport experience for owners of Sports, Classic, GT Cars of distinction.

Over the ensuing years, the Moss’ continued to promote the event we all love so dearly – The perfect ambassadors for TARGA Tasmania.

The TARGA Family say, thank you Suzie and son, Elliot, for loaning your “Special’ Man to the world of motor sport – we’re in your debt.

Ronda Matthews – Co-founder, TARGA Tasmania


Vale – Ernie Bennett

It is with great sadness we advise the passing of 25 year TARGA official Ernie Bennett on Sunday May 10 after a long hard battle with cancer.

Ernie was involved with TARGA for  25 years volunteering on TARGA Tasmania , TARGA West Point , TARGA Northwest and TARGA High Country. Ernie first started as a tracker, working his way through other roles up to Safety Officer.

Ernie grew up in the West Tamar area in the North of Tasmania. He was a true gentleman who devoted his life to his partner Lorraine and their little dog Rolli.

He loved to share his large  historical  knowledge of the West Tamar and always had a story to tell about his life growing up and working for the road  crew in the West Tamar.

Ernie was involved with the West Tamar  historical society and had a display of antique items he found around the area at the Beaconsfield Gold Mine Museum.

We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Ernie’s partner Lorraine and family. He will be dearly missed.



Original story from Motorsport Australia.

Michael Ashmore may not be a household name in the Australian motorsport community, but for those in the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship, he is “kind of a big deal”. 

For the past 24 years, Ashmore has been an official for TARGA Tasmania’s well known Woodbridge stage, a location where Ashmore is a resident himself. 

However, it isn’t just his work at events that has raised Ashmore’s profile, it’s the special jacket he owns, which features patches from every TARGA Tasmania he has attended over the past 25 years. 

This year’s running of TARGA Tasmania would have been his 25th year officiating at the event, however the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying Ashmore’s impressive milestone by one year. 

Remarkably, Ashmore admits his involvement in the event only came by through chance all those years ago and even more so when it came to the jacket’s birth.

“I am not from Tasmania originally and I wasn’t really involved in motorsport before I moved down to the apple isle,” Ashmore explained. 

“We moved to the town of Woodbridge, just south of Hobart, which hosted a stage and we would sit in the front yard, have a barbecue with some wine and watch the cars go by every year. 

“Coincidentally, a friend of mine was asked if he could take on the Stage Director role for Woodbridge and he needed someone to be his deputy, so he casually asked me. Now, we’re here 25 years later and I have done every single one since. 

“As for the jacket, I won it as a prize during one of the event’s appreciation barbecues for officials in my early years. I had some patches from previous events, so I just decided to have them sewed on. It’s a tradition that has stuck. 

“I tend not to wear it during the event but depending on where we are located, I may whip it out at dinners and there is a lot of positive feedback from people who are poking around looking for specific years. 

“It has got to a point where I feel uncomfortable wearing in public as it has too many things on it, but I am still happy to bring it out here and there.” 

While Ashmore holds the deputy stage director role in his hometown, he also tends to travel out with the event and volunteer at other stages. 

Outside of the biggest event on the tarmac rallying calendar, the 72-year-old also spends time volunteering at Symmons Plains as a fire marshal, giving him a lot of experience as a Motorsport Australia official. 

Despite having such a wealth of experience, there is no specific moment that sticks out to him, even though he has seen a vast amount of change occur in that time. 

“I have seen lots of change over the years. A lot of positive changes. I think it’s run pretty well at the moment – especially since they have focused on bringing back the classic cars and made them prominent” Ashmore added. 

“With that said, there isn’t one memory that jumps out me. There are too many to choose from. Although, as a fan of champagne showers, attending the 2018 TARGA Great Barrier Reef podium as a spectator with my wife is something I’ll never forget. 

“Another aspect I love about volunteering at TARGA events is when competitors pull up at the finish and genuinely thank us for the doing what we do. Every year there are more and more competitors who acknowledge us, which is great. 

“I just love doing TARGA events and they’re special because they give small town locals a chance to see motorsport up close and from the comfort of their own home. I really hope to continue volunteering at these events for many years to come.”


TARGA Tasmania to become part of motor sport triple treat

TARGA Tasmania’s 30th anniversary event will mark a new timeslot in the sporting calendar with the event to move to a regular date in early March each year.

The tarmac classic will kick start a month of premium motorsport that will also include the Formula 1 race in Melbourne and the Supercars round at Symmons Plains.

The 29th running of the event, now to be held in 2021, will remain with the traditional post-Easter dates of April 19 to 24, before swapping to the March dates the following year for the major 30th anniversary event.

TARGA have confirmed the dates out to 2027, with the event now tied to the week leading into the March Eight Hour Day long weekend. The F1 round will follow the following week with the Supercars due in the state in the weeks after that.

The event will also return to its traditional Tuesday to Sunday format, rather than Monday to Saturday, allowing more opportunities for Tasmanian fans to access the cars in action over the final weekend. The Monday following the event will be the public holiday providing an additional economic boost to the state.

The dates for the 30th Anniversary and beyond have been set as:

*   8 to 13 March 2022 (30th Anniversary)
*   7 to 12 March 2023
*   5 to 10 March 2024
*   4 to 9 March 2025
*   3 to 8 March 2026
*   2 to 7 March 2027 (35th Anniversary)

Events Tasmania has agreed to the change, and TARGA CEO, Mark Perry, says the new dates will underpin the ongoing success of TARGA Tasmania.

“Having a set time on the calendar every year is a huge advantage for us to be able to continue to attract people to the event,” Perry said. “It makes everyone’s planning much simpler compared to the moving feast of dates we have always had to deal with, which resulted in TARGA being run anywhere from mid-April to early May.

“The March date also is far more appealing to visitors coming to Tasmania – they can enjoy our wonderful early autumn weather and the long days courtesy of daylight savings.

“We increasingly see the tour component of the event growing – people who have great cars and simply want to enjoy driving them on our great roads and enjoy the best of what Tasmania has to offer – and a March timeslot is much more appealing to them than the colder, wetter traditional spot.  

“There is no doubt that losing the event this year was a blow, but with the support of Events Tasmania we can now plan for the future with great confidence. TARGA Tasmania is here to stay and now enjoys a premium spot on the Australian Motorsports calendar.”

The next event scheduled on the TARGA calendar is TARGA Great Barrier Reef from September 4 to 6, with early bird entries now extended to May 15. The final round of the year, Targa High Country based at Mt Buller, has a new date as well. It will now run from November 13 to 15, a week later than originally scheduled.


Lotus Exige Sport 410 TARGA Edition

Together with Lotus Cars Australia, we are excited to introduce the Exige Sport 410 TARGA Limited Edition Coupe, an Australian-only machine limited to 10 units nationally.  

“The catalyst for this car was the success the Exige has enjoyed in TARGA competition. Having won the Australian TARGA Championship back to back in 2018 and 2019, it seemed fitting to pay tribute with a Limited Edition car” said Lotus Cars Australia CEO, Lee Knappett. “2019 was an extremely successful year, with Lotus owners winning the TARGA championship in all four classes that our cars were eligible (TSD, GT Sports, GT2 and Outright)”.

TARGA is an important part of the comprehensive event calendar that Lotus Cars Australia delivers to customers through its national dealer network. Knappett went on to say “Some of our customers have been doing TARGA for a long time, but our relationship with TARGA at a manufacturer level really started in 2015 when we supported four cars competing in TARGA High Country. Since then, our involvement has expanded to include an official Lotus Tour group, and we regularly have over 25 cars in the field at each event. TARGA is a great fit for our customers.”

TARGA CEO, Mark Perry said “The launch of this amazing new Lotus simply solidifies our fantastic relationship and will enable TARGA competitors across the country to compete in our iconic events knowing that they have a great chance of winning. Lotus have won the last two Motorsport Australia TARGA Championships, and this combined with their heavy presence in our TARGA Tours and speed-limited competitions means that Lotus are one of our signature brands. We look forward to seeing this fantastic looking Exige at our events and out on the streets, proudly displaying the TARGA brand”.

Unique TARGA Specification
Immediately standing the Exige Sport 410 TARGA Limited Edition out from the crowd is the addition of cup style side air intakes and rear wing, both finished in carbon fibre. TARGA decals complete the exterior features of the car. Customers have the choice of any metallic paint colour in the Lotus range.
Moving inside the car, the TARGA pack adds carbon fibre race seats, harness bar, 4 point driver harness and fire extinguisher, all of which make the car ready for entry level driving at TARGA, or any of the many track day and sprint events available to Lotus customers.

For customers wanting to pursue higher levels of TARGA competition, a dealer fit Australian Motorsport compliant roll cage option is available. The addition of an interior colour pack adds a bit of ‘swish’ to a cabin that already includes full Alcantara trim.

The TARGA pack adds to the already long list of performance and lightweight components that define the Exige Sport 410. Weight savings come from the carbon fibre front splitter, front access panel and rear boot lid, as well as the ultra lightweight forged alloy rims shod in sticky Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres, while suspension performance comes from three way adjustable Nitron dampers, Eibach springs and 3 way adjustable anti roll bars front and rear.

The driving power behind this car comes from the tried and tested 3.5L V6 which is forced inducted by a charge cooled twin scroll style supercharger to generate 410bhp and 420Nm. The engine itself has a baffled sump to prevent oil starvation during high speed, high load corners, and power is put to the ground through a 6 speed H-pattern gearbox running sports ratios.

Braking is courtesy of AP Racing, with forged, four-piston calipers and high performance two-piece J-hook brake discs. With a higher thermal capacity and improved bite, these discs have better debris clearance and impart consistent pedal feel with greater stopping power.

The driver has a choice of four drive modes, ‘normal’, ‘sport’, ‘race’ and ‘tcs off’. Each mode reduces ESP intervention, allowing drivers to explore car limits as their confidence grows.

Lotus standard warranty terms and conditions apply to the Exige Sport 410 TARGA Limited Edition (3 years, unlimited Km). The cars also come with 3 years roadside assistance as part of the Lotus Assist programme.

Limited Edition Value
At $174,990 RRP (a $5k uplift on the base car without options), the TARGA Limited Edition represents excellent value buying when you consider the combined RRP value of all options fitted is just over $12,500.

To purchase or order a bespoke colour, contact your local dealer, which you can find via the link – https://www.lotuscars.com/en-AU/dealers/  


Impact of COVID-19 sees 2020 TARGA Tasmania cancelled

After careful consideration for the health and welfare of everyone involved in TARGA Tasmania, but more importantly, the 500,000 plus people who call Tasmania home, we announce the cancellation of this year’s TARGA Tasmania event, which was due to be held from 27th April to 2nd May.  

Given the uniqueness of TARGA, an event which visits all corners of the island, we felt that the health risk to the Tasmanian community of conducting our iconic rally was too great based on sound advice from a number of experts.  

Whilst it is sad news that for the first time in its history, dating back to 1992, TARGA Tasmania will not be run, we are already focusing on the future and staging the 29th edition of TARGA Tasmania in 2021 followed by the 30th Anniversary event, which will now be held in 2022.

If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to email us at enquiries@targa.com.au


Gina Siddins on women in motor sport

Gina has always had the need for speed having grown up around cars and following her Dad around from the age of 5 working on cars around the house.

“I remember my Mum had a Ford Capri and Dad needed to remove the valves.  He didn’t have the right tools to remove the collets so he used two screw drivers to push the springs down and I used my little fingers to pluck the collets out one by one!  Even so young, I was so proud of what I had achieved,” Siddins said.

Working at the Gold Coast Indy as Relationship Manager and other motor sport events in corporate areas, Gina always longed to get out on the track herself.

“I’ve always watched all the Bathurst events and followed some inspirational drivers in various forms of motor sport including Jim Richards, Dick Johnson, Kevin Bartlett, Scotty McLaughlin, Daniel Ricciardo, and Ari Vatanen.  Although all these drivers are all male, I grew up in an era where women in motor sport wasn’t promoted. 

“We’re lucky that isn’t the case anymore and I encourage women to get into motor sport at every opportunity. I’m actually speaking at a Historic Racing Car Club Queensland event later this year.”

Gina’s husband, Jon introduced her to motor sport where she finally found her niche!  “I started out with a Level 2 Speed licence and some training with Paul Stokell and loved every minute of it.  I graduated to a Clubman Circuit Licence and National Rally Licence and now compete in Track Sprints, Regularity, Improved Production and of course tarmac rally as Co-Driver with my husband in our Team 24oz in TARGA events in our 1970 Datsun 240z. 

We now have three Datsun 240z’s, a Nissan Pintara TRX 3E Production Touring Car which was raced at the 12 Hour in 1993 and 1994 (my first race car!) and a Datsun 1600.  After all, it’s like handbags, you can never have too many!”

Gina loves the exhilaration you get from motor sport – the thrill of bettering yourself in terms of your driving ability; being passionate about braking later, hitting that apex better on the next lap, focusing on your gear changes, increasing your lap speed, the camaraderie amongst competitors particularly at TARGA events, sticking it to the boys when you pass them on the track and of course winning trophies. “After all, I am known as the ‘Trophy Queen’!”

Gina competed in Regularity in the Bathurst Challenge event for the first time in 2017 in the Nissan Pintara and did 193.2 kilometres down Conrod Straight!  “I thought every panel was going to fall of the car!  Not bad for a stock standard engine and the only modification being better shocks. This was the most exhilarating experience being on the track at Bathurst in a car that had been raced there many years before.”

In terms of rallying, Gina said she would not be where she is today if it weren’t for their wonderful sponsors, service crews and our passionate fans.  “They make it all worthwhile when they support us through the ups and downs of motorsport.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always the opportunity to get into motor sport in one form or another.  I remember a quote from Ari Vatanen, famous Finnish Rally Driver – “speed doesn’t know your age & neither does a rally car”.

“Whether it be volunteering as a track marshall, working in timing or as a part of the service crew for a team.  I’ve started out in these roles and have a much greater appreciation for the critical roles that volunteers play in allowing us to race.  These roles can lead to getting behind the wheel if you are keen.”

If you want to get into motor sport but you don’t know how, Gina has offered you contact her via her Team 24oz Facebook page and she would be happy to give you some ideas or put you in contact with some clubs or other volunteers in your area. 

International Women’s Day takes place in Sunday, March 8th. For more information, visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/


Kelly Handley advocating female participation in motor sport

Kelly Handley’s introduction to motor sport came via her husband, Duncan. He started doing track days when he bought a sports car many years ago.

“I’m not the kind of person that likes sitting on the sideline, so I jumped into the driver’s seat at an Oran Park track day, and the rest is history as they say,” Handley said.

Handley initially got into navigating because Duncan gets horribly travel sick! TARGA Tasmania was on both of their bucket lists, but since there was no chance Duncan would make it through the first stage without turning green, Handley jumped into the nav seat.

“I loved it from the moment I did my first prologue at George Town, worked out I was not too bad at navigating and have ended up doing more racing than Duncan over the years as a result. In fact, all going to plan next year will be my 15th Targa Tasmania.

“I’ve now been participating in motor sport at a club, state and national level for 15+ years, across a range of other disciplines including gravel rallying, super sprints, motorkhanas and hill climbs.  I’ve also been an active member of CAMS affiliated clubs through this time including taking on leadership roles such as the Vice President of the Skyline Club NSW.”

Handley believes the people you meet and friendships you make with people from all walks of life is one of the biggest reasons she stayed in the sport for so long.
“There are many amazing people in my life today who I would have never met if not for Motorsport.

“The thing I love specifically about rally is the teamwork that goes into getting a car to the finish line and the fact that it’s not just your own service crew but the rally field that’s got your back. We all help and look out for each other & do everything we can to make sure everyone makes the finish line.”

Handley attributes her self-confidence to her career in motor sport, “when you get into a rally car as a navigator, you take on a huge responsibility, and it has given me the ability to perform well under pressure and maintain focus. It’s also given me lots of practical life skills like being able to change a tyre quickly and diagnose and fix basic car problems.

“Finally – and most importantly – I love that motor sport is an equaliser when it comes to gender – many of the best drivers I’ve navigated for just so happen to be women including Matilda Mravičić, Melinda Bergmann and Luana Garwood. In fact, I stood on my first TARGA podium with a woman (Matilda at TARGA Wrest Point).

“I’ve always been an advocate for women’s equal participation in all areas of life, and I love that rallying is the most advanced in this area within motor sport. TARGA is really leading the way in this – something like almost 40% of participants are women (accounting for competitors, service crews, officials and of course the organising team!    

“The opportunities really are endless, and it’s so much easier to get involved than people think.

“I think it’s fair to say Motorsport has a reputation for being a male-dominated sport and that can be very intimidating. But it’s also absolutely changing, and in fact, some of the biggest supporters of women in motor sport I know are men.  

“The way we accelerate this change is with initiatives such as this – promoting the many ways women are involved and achieving in the sport.

“The biggest challenge is women don’t necessarily realise how easy it is to get involved in Motorsport and the many ways you can do this. You don’t have to be in a race car to be involved.  In my experience, the people involved in motor sport are all very welcoming, and like many volunteer organisations always have many roles to fill.

“In the context of TARGA, this can be joining a service crew, getting involved as an official or even standing behind a camera/video camera!

“The key really is continuing to cover and celebrate the many great women involved in the sport, supported by the message that everyone can do the same.”

International Women’s Day takes place in Sunday, March 8th. For more information, visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/



TARGA Great Barrier Reef will undergo a major transformation with the exciting Cassowary Coast added to the tarmac rally course from September 4-6.

The biggest route change since the maiden TARGA Great Barrier Reef in 2018 will see multiple stages run in the Cassowary Coast region, approximately 100km to the south of the event’s base in Cairns.

Already widely acclaimed, the event injected $3 million in the Far North Queensland economy with 85 percent landing in the private sector last year.

The inclusion of the Cassowary Coast will see the total competitive distance of the event jump to 230.97km, an increase of 25 percent while the total number of timed stages increases to 20, up by four. 

While the whole course remains provisional at the moment, the plan sees eight stages on the Cassowary Coast on the middle of the three day event, Saturday September 5. The inclusion adds an exciting new dimension to TARGA Great Barrier Reef with the area’s stunning topography and unique reef location.

“TARGA Great Barrier Reef brought this large scale motorsport event to Far North Queensland that engaged many motoring enthusiasts, along with activating hundreds of volunteers with an interest in cars,” TARGA chief executive Mark Perry said.

“Aside from injecting direct economic benefits to local business and trades, our various promotion and broadcast platforms offer great publicity value to the destination in which we’re touring.”

“We have identified provisional stages and will be issuing letters to all residents who may be impacted by the event, and encourage anyone with questions to contact TARGA direct.”

Attuned to operating in regional locations with precious wildlife populations, TARGA has enlisted the advice of world leading veterinarian specialising in Cassowaries, Dr Graham Lauridsen, to mitigate any risk to the region’s local population.

“I’m pleased to know that in designing this course TARGA officials are considering the habitats of local wildlife and will engage a mitigation strategy to ensure all due care is put into place for this event,” Dr Lauridsen said.

“Among those strategies will be considerations of time of day that particular roads will be utilised for the course to avoid Cassowary interactions, and spotting marshals as an added safety mechanism.”

TARGA’s major digital campaigns and television package will showcase the region’s majesty to a national and international audience through the Nine Network in HD and distributed to a potential global audience of two billion.

Cassowary Coast residents are encouraged to be part of TARGA Great Barrier Reef with the event organisers seeking to fill a multitude of volunteer positions.

Significantly more than 2000 people had direct involvement in the 2019 event with a further 40,000 spectators attending TARGAFest, TARGA Expo and the competition stages on Far North Queensland’s unique roads.

TARGA Great Barrier Reef is the second leg of the three-round Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship that begins with the time-honoured TARGA Tasmania in late April and concludes with TARGA High Country based at Mt Buller in Victoria in November.


TARGA launches powerful 2020 rebrand

The biggest revamp undertaken in the history of TARGA will take its suite of industry-leading tarmac rally events to the next level.

A comprehensive overhaul of TARGA’s brand and business strategy will target growth in new competitors and spark greater appeal for the fan base of the iconic TARGA Tasmania, TARGA Great Barrier Reef and TARGA High Country events.

A year on from the acclaimed Dutton Group purchasing TARGA, the brand recently commissioned an extensive in-house analysis that will now see a fresh business path and marketing direction.

The business known previously as Targa Australia will make way for a brand new name, TARGA, which will incorporate a powerful new logo that re-enforces the unique tarmac rally discipline while acknowledging the rich history and heritage of the brand.

While TARGA is adopting a more modern and contemporary look, it has a clear mission that will deliver the Ultimate Tarmac Rally experience for competition entrants, and become the must-have driving experience for car enthusiasts and fans.

TARGA is committed to investing in customer experiences, starting with streamlining the rules to enable competitors to have greater freedom and more choice.

Importantly this investment will make it easier for new competitors to participate and also transform the business into a more user-friendly fan experience.

The new structure recognises the historical significance of the competition classes while also giving added weight to the burgeoning numbers of motoring enthusiasts who want to drive their cars on closed roads.

The TARGA Competitions brand ambition is to be the bona fide leader in unique rally events while TARGA Tours aims to be the ultimate driving getaway.

Central to the new TARGA focus is a completely redesigned website, TARGA logo, refreshed event logos and more streamlined and clear social media presence across all the major platforms.

The TARGA website will provide comprehensive course outlines, entry lists and Australian TARGA Championship points table.

“The past year was an incredible year of change at TARGA and it’s now time to really focus our efforts, with the first step being a major rebrand and well overdue update of our customer facing website,” TARGA chief executive Mark Perry said.

“These updates are a small reflection of the big changes we’re making across the company to better serve our customers.”

TARGA’s business and marketing restructure comes soon after confirmation that TARGA Tasmania (April 27-May 2) will see the longest competitive course in the famed event’s history. 

TARGA Tasmania will feature 39 stages over 626 kilometers that will include two brand new stages and a recall of several discontinued tests.


2019 Modern Outright results now confirmed

The results of the 2019 CAMS Australian TARGA Championship are now official.

The positions of Modern Outright had remained provisional following TARGA High Country last November.

Paul Stokell and Kate Catford (2014 Lotus Exige 350) compiled 389 points to claim the title over Tasmanian’s Jason and John White (2016 Dodge Viper) who finished on 240 points.

Motorsport Australia confirmed the results after protests were dismissed following the final round at Mt Buller.


Stokell and Downey secure prestigious CAMS awards

Tasmanian raised Paul Stokell is adopting a no-risk approach as he attempts to cap off a signature season at the 10th anniversary TARGA High Country from November 8 to 10.

The Brisbane-based Stokell is coming off a highly successful year highlighted by a maiden win in the flagship TARGA Tasmania six months ago.

A former highly decorated circuit racer, Stokell has combined seamlessly with the experienced co-driver Catford for the last three events (runner-up at TARGA North West, won TARGA Tasmania, runner-up TARGA Great Barrier Reef).

“Kate hasn’t missed a beat and has been well and truly up to the job,” Stokell appraised.

“Even when it is wet and slippery and a bit hairy on some stages she doesn’t get thrown.

“It’s a credit to her and is very good at what she does.”

Stokell has taken heart that his 2014 Lotus Exige Sport 350, upgraded this year with a new supercharger package, is closer to the outright speed of his chief rival Jason White, driver of the 2016 Dodge Viper alongside uncle John White.

At the North Queensland event in early September, Stokell managed to edge the Viper in dry conditions on the Gillies Range and Little Mulgrave stages on the opening day.

“It was the first time we took him on a level playing field and beat him in the dry so I was pretty happy with our performance,” Stokell said.

“I think we are in a pretty comfortable position (going into High Country) providing we stay on the road.

“I’m not going to do anything silly. It’s pretty achievable for us.

“I guess when you are pushing for a podium the risks go up a bit.

“But I’ll push as much as we are comfortable without making mistakes and see where that leaves us.

“The High Country roads probably don’t suit us as much as other events.

“It’s not ideal but we will see how we go.”

Victorian Matt Close, who has netted a couple of High Country wins and is a regular competitor at the event, will run a brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 in lizard green livery.

Close and co-driver Cameron Reeves are yet to test the new Porsche however it essentially is running the same suspension as his previous GT3 in which he finished second behind the White Viper at High Country last year.

In outright classifications last year at TARGA High Country, Close was runner-up to the White Viper while Stokell was sixth.

Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker are favourites to defend their 2018 High Country crown in Classic GT after a solid year.

Similarly Luke Anear and Alan Stephensen have been strong all year in GT4 and are keen to erase memories of their DNF at the Mt Buller event last year.

In Early Modern, the season’s form driver Will Gordon will be joined by new co-driver Kelly Handley as he seeks to continue his class-leading edge.

Classic Handicap is always an intriguing battle with top contender Nik Prieston joined by Stephanie Esterbauer in his 1975 Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye.

Last year’s High Country handicap runners-up Peter Gluskie and Sam Winter will prove stiff competition to the Fiat after strong form in their brilliantly competitive BMW E30 325i.

Mitchell and Darryl Ringuet (2017 Lotus Exige Sport 350) and Anthony and Sandra Seymour (2013) have waged a fierce battle all season and are set to continue their fight in GT Sports Trophy)

Peter and Tristan Taylor are in the box seat to defend their High Country title from last year in the penalty-based TSD Sports Trophy category.

The ever popular Street Stage and TargaFest is scheduled to be held at Mansfield from 3pm on Saturday, November 9.

Check Road Closures and Opening Times across the three-day event.