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Day 4 proves a testing Targa day

The Dodge Viper of Jason White holds a narrow 10 advantage in the GT2 competition after the run from Burnie to Strahan on the fourth day of Targa Tasmania 2016.
The roads to Strahan are both beautiful and challenging
The Dodge Viper of Jason White holds a narrow 10 advantage in the GT2 competition after the run from Burnie to Strahan on the fourth day of Targa Tasmania 2016.

Last year’s winner went toe to toe with the Porsche GT3 of Matt Close, and after leading by two seconds for most of the day, took an eight second win on the 20km Hellyer Gorge stage to increase his advantage with two days still to run.

The Classic competition is still comfortably led by Peter Ullrich in his 1963 Jensen CV8, more than a minute clear of Leigh Achterberg’s 1982 Porsche 944, with Paul Freestone’s 1960 Aston Martin DB4 in third.

Seven stages and 92km of roads greeted competitors on another fine Tasmanian day, and as the event progresses, the odds are shortening on Jason and John White claiming their sixth Targa Tasmania crown. 

But it is proving to be an enthralling tussle between the top two in GT2 and no one is doubting the intensity that Close is bringing to the battle in his quest for a first Targa Tasmania title.

In the battle for the minor placings in GT2, after Craig Dean crashed his Ford Mustang early in the day, Michael Pritchard lies in third place in a Dodge Viper, while the wily old fox, Jim Richards, has moved to fourth in his Porsche GT4.

“The changes we made to the suspension and wheel alignment last night made the car awesome today,” White said.

“If we had that set-up from the start of the event we wouldn’t have been concerned about tyre wear at all. We’re very confident now the tyres will make the distance, no worries at all.

“Now that we’ve sorted out tyre concerns we can push a bit harder and try to extend our lead.”

Another former winner, Steve Glenney in a Subaru WRX STI, increased his lead to over a minute in the GT4 competition, with the Lamborghini of Tony Quinn his nearest challenger.

Glenney held a 24 second advantage at the start of the day, but increased on that throughout as Ben Manion’s Subaru battled with Quinn’s Lamborghini. In the end it was brute horsepower that got the better of nimble handling, as Quinn moved ahead.

“We’ve got a lead of around a minute, but it’s never enough. All sorts of things can go wrong and there’s still a long way to go,” Glenney stressed.

“We just have to keep pressing on and hope we can extend our lead without using up too much of the car.

“We had a minor engine misfire yesterday, which we worked on last night. It’s better, but it’s not totally fixed so it’s a work in progress.

“The car’s been okay – it gets a bit hot and bothered  when I push it hard, but that’s to be expected.”

In other competitions, Jon Siddins leads Classic GT in his Datsun 240Z ahead of Keith Callinan’s Ford Escort, Brendan Winterbourn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) has taken the lead in Modern, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R of Jeff Beable is over five minutes in front in GT Sports Trophy.

The Early Modern competition is being dominated by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5 RS of Alan Roe, who is more than four minutes ahead of a the Mazda RX7s of Andrew Bollom and Mark Balcombe.

The Vintage class is still led by Wayne Clark’s 1938 Dodge Speedster Special, ahead of Graham Copeland’s 1936 Desoto Special.

Day five of Targa Tasmania heads from Strahan to Hobart over six stages and 115 competitive kilometres. After the picturesque 33km stage out of Strahan tomorrow morning, drivers are then faced with the mammoth 51km Mt Arrowsmith test – one of the event’s favourites.

It will be a day that will really shape the results ahead of the final stanza on Saturday.

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