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McLaren storms to Targa High Country lead

Regular sparring partners, Tony Quinn and Matt Close, have endured an intense battle on the opening day of Targa High Country, the three-day tarmac rally based on Mt Buller.
Regular sparring partners, Tony Quinn and Matt Close, have endured an intense battle on the opening day of Targa High Country, the three-day tarmac rally based on Mt Buller.

While Close’s new 2015 Porsche GT3 set the early pace, Quinn’s magnificent 2014 McLaren 650S charged up the testing 17 kilometre run to the top of mountain to grab a 12 second lead and clearly establish himself as the man to beat in the Showroom class competition.

In Showroom 4WD, West Australian Stewart Liddle has been the pick of the drivers in his Mitsubishi Lancer, while Nathan Reeves’ Subaru leads Modern. Pete Nunn’s Porsche 944 and Matthew Cardinaels’ Datsun 240Z are level pegging in Classic Outright.

The first day of Targa High Country, run in testing conditions, saw over 200 sports and classic cars tackle six closed road stages totalling a competitive distance of 93.09 kilometres.

After starting on Mt Buller on Friday morning, the event travelled to Euroa for a lunch break, before heading back through Mansfield for the final run up Mt Buller late in the afternoon.

After the early fog and drizzle cleared, the Showroom competition battle between Close and Quinn really got down to business. The pair were generally clear of their rivals, but dark horse, Craig Dean, was putting in some exceptional stage times in his Ford Mustang to hold down third place.

Dean has so far had the measure of motor racing and Targa legend, Jim Richards, in a 2015 Porsche GT4 in fourth place, with Tasmanian Ben Newman fifth in a Renault Megane.

“I’m surprised that we’re leading to be honest, because it’s a tough event for a car like this,” Quinn said.

“My trouble is that I’m driving a different car every week, so it takes me half a day or so to get back into the swing of things. I’m sure we’ll get better and better over the weekend.

“But Matt (Close) is a good driver - brave and fast, and I’m sure he will be tough to beat over the next two days.”

The lone Mitsubishi Lancer at the pointy end of the Showroom 4WD competition is just where Stewart Liddle had planned to be, and with a lead of 59 seconds, he’s in a good position to control the event from here on.

Angus Kennard’s Nissan GTR is second and heads a brace of Subaru WRX STIs, headed by Ralph Norton, and followed closely by Terry Macleod and debutante Targa High Country driver Crichton Lewis.

The Modern competition has seen Victorian speedster, Nathan Reeves, dominate the day in his Subaru WRX STI after a flawless drive that sees him 27 seconds in front.

The brother of World Rally Championship regular, Brendan Reeves, is a former Victorian Rally Champion and has shown his opponents a clean pair of heels.

Toby Gill lies in second place in a Lancer Evo X RS, followed by the Nissan GTR of Adam Spence.

The Classic Outright competition sees a tie for first place after the first day, after an intriguing battle. Pete Nunn led by 23 seconds heading into the final stage of the day in his Porsche, but a blistering time from Matthew Cardinaels up Mt Buller evened up the tussle.

Behind the leaders, Jon Siddins’ Datsun 240Z is in third place, but still not out of the running with two days still to run.

“We had a really good day, but lost some time coming up the mountain in the wet this afternoon,” Nunn said.

“The last half of the stage was really foggy, so we backed off to get home safely, with the plan of going hard and trying to build a lead tomorrow.

“Day two’s stages really suit our car, as they’re fast and flowing. Hopefully we can get a lead and then look at being a bit more conservative on Sunday.”

In other classes, leaders are Alan Roe (Lancer Evo 6.5) in Early Modern, Jon Siddins (Datsun 240Z) in Early Classic Handicap, and Matthew Cardinaels in Late Classic Handicap.

Daniel Trevarthen’s Holden Commodore heads Sports Trophy, Keith Brookes the Thoroughbred Trophy in his Porsche 911, and Jordan Bridge has a narrow TSD Trophy lead in his 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX.

Day 2 of Targa High Country will take competitors from Mt Buller into the King Valley and back, via six stages covering a competitive distance of 55.15 kilometres.

After the run down Mt Buller to Mirimbah, crews will make their way to Whitfield for lunch, before the run back to Mansfield for the stage around the streets of the tourist town.

This will be followed by the popular Targa Fest display from 3pm, where motorsport fans can get up close to the cars and drivers in this year’s event.

2015 Targa High Country – provisional results after Day 1

SHOWROOM

1. Tony Quinn / Kate Catford, 2014 McLaren 650S
2. Matt Close / Cameron Reeves, 2015 Porsche GT3, +15s
3. Craig Dean / Emma Quigley, 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT, +23s
4. Jim Richards / Barry Oliver, 2015 Porsche GT4, +33s
5. Ben Newman / Tim Kulhanek, 2012 Renault Megane, +2m20s

4WD SHOWROOM

1. Stewart Liddle / Michael Lloyd, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS
2. Angus Kennard / Ian Wheeler, Nissan GTR 35, +59s
3. Ralph Norton / Malcolm Norton, 2010 Subaru WRX STI, +1m32s
4. Trevor Macleod / Scott Hunter, 2010 Subaru WRX STI, +1m35s
5. Crichton Lewis / Adam Kudra, 2010 Subaru WRX STI, +1m54s

MODERN

1. Nathan Reeves / Reubecca Sheldrick, 2011 Subaru WRX STI
2. Toby Gill / Mathew Smith, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS, +27s
3. Adam Spence / Erin Kelly, 2011 Nissan GTR, +35s
4. Max Williams / Bruce Bush, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +41s
5. Joshua Hilton / Rodney Vanderpoel, 2008 Nissan GTR 35, +1m08s

CLASSIC OUTRIGHT

=1. Pete Nunn / Keith Johnstone, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo
=1. Matthew Cardinaels / Jason Page, 1972 Datsun 240Z,
3. Jon Siddins / Gina Siddins, 1970 Datsun 240Z, +47s
4. Craig Haysman / Dennis Sims, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, +55s
5. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, 1985 Mazda RX7, +1m33s

EARLY MODERN

1. Alan Roe / Steve Glenney, 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5
2. Liam Howarth / Larry Howarth, 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR, +1m06s
3. Tristan Catford / Sam Tapping, 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, +1m42s

EARLY CLASSIC HANDICAP

1. Jon Siddins / Gina Siddins, 1970 Datsun 240Z
2. Roger Lomman / Annie Bainbridge, 1970 Datsun 240Z, +2m01s
3. Colin Byrne / Michael Partridge, 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, +2m11s

LATE CLASSIC HANDICAP

1. Matthew Cardinaels / Jason Page, 1972 Datsun 240Z
2. Pete Nunn / Keith Johnstone, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo, +22s
3. Craig Haysman / Dennis Sims, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, +1m12s

SPORTS TROPHY

1. Daniel Trevarthen / Chris Ward, 2006 Holden Commodore SS
2. Julian Page / Diane Ridway, 2013 Audi TT RS Plus, +37s
3. Martin Duursma / Nick Cox, 2013 Lotus Exige S V6, +57s

SHANNONS THOROUGHBRED TROPHY

1. Keith Brooke / Karl Brooke, 1980 Porsche 911
2. Brett Dillon / Geoffrey Corah, 1968 Porsche 911, +2m32s

TSD TROPHY

1. Jordan Bridge / Debbie Bridge, 2004 Subaru WRX STI, 5 points
2. Gerard Knapp / Roger Campbell, 2005 Alfa Romeo GT, 10 points
3. Alan Gluyas / Heather Gluyas, 2012 Toyota 86 GTS, 17 points

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