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Rookies take the prizes at new Targa

The inaugural Targa Hellyer Gorge has been a battle of the rookie drivers, with the first time Targa entrant Gippsland’s Brent Coleman taking the modern rookie honours, Tasmanian Steve Maguire was the Early Modern winner and Melbourne’s Peter Gluskie the quickest of the classic car novices.
Steve Maguire and Steve Glenney

While others in the field used it as an opportunity to fine tune for the upcoming Targa Tasmania, for the Rookies it was an intense battle, with a free entry into the 24th running of the six day tarmac rally in April on offer.

With each entry valued at over $7000, a combined $23,000 prize pool, each win had a significant reward.

The gorge road is a classic at Targa Tasmania, as good a test of driver and car as any in Australia. Each car tackled it six times, three in each direction, completing nearly 100 competitive kilometres in the new one-day format.

The modern rookie class was a contest between two Subarus, with Crichton Lewis and Brent Coleman both in a WRX STI. Lewis, the local Launceston Subaru dealer, is normally a co-driver, swapping to behind the wheel for the first time.

But it was Coleman, who has dreamed of doing Targa since he was 15, who took the prize.

Now 32, that dream will come true.

"I said to my Dad when I was 15 that we'd do Targa one day," Coleman said.

"By being able to have a crack at it by winning today is fantastic.

"The roads here are awesome. They don't build them like this back home."

Early Modern winner McGuire, in a 1998 Evo 5, had former Targa Tasmania winner Steve Glenney calling his notes, and was thrilled with his Rookie victory.

"This is my first Targa and my first tarmac rally and I'm hoping there are plenty more to come,” Maguire said.

"It was a great relief to make it over the finish line as I was pretty nervous today.

"I'm really looking forward to Targa Tasmania now. I need to spend heaps more time in the car and get a lot better working with the notes."

The Classic Rookie winner went down to the wire, with Gluskie bringing his 1983 BMW E30 323i home just two seconds clear of Burnie driver Michael Kelly in a 1974 Holden Torana.

"I've only been doing motor sport for a couple of years and never done anything like this before," Gluskie said.

"I grew up in Hobart and saw the very first Targa 24 years ago and its been on my bucket list ever since.

"I reckon that this will be one of the biggest wins in my life in motor sport."

Event director, Mark Perry, said the inaugural running had been a great success.

“It is a fantastic bit of road, the weather has been superb, and we’ve provided 70 competitors with a format that makes trying Targa racing accessible to a broader group of people than ever before.

“People learnt a lot today, about themselves, their cars and the sport. That was the goal and it’s ticked all the boxes.

“It has also brought lots of people and some excitement to Tasmania’s north west, and that’s a good thing as well.”

Other winners were Eddie Mguire (Modern), Jamie Vandenberg (Early Modern), Roy Tate (Thoroughbred Trophy), John Davidson (Showroom), Peter Nunn (Classic) and Clint Pease (Rookie All-comers).

Targa Tasmania gets underway on Monday April 27 and finishes in Hobart six days later on Saturday May 2.

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