Reigning Champion, Matt Close, is the outright leader of Targa High Country after the opening day of competition of the three-day rally in Victoria’s North East.
Matt Close is looking for back-to-back wins at Targa High Country
Close, with co-driver Cameron Reeves, endured a challenging day in their 2015 Porsche 911 GT3, but survived to set the fastest all-comers time for the day, and secured first place in the prestigious Mt Buller GT2 competition.
At the end of the day’s fourth stage, Violet Town, Close had a puncture and fell behind the official sweep car. He was given a derived time for the next stage, keeping his title hopes alive, and leaving him in touch of the lead.
With one stage to go he was in second behind the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR of Tasmanians Michael Pritchard and Nathan Walker, but was thirteen second quicker on the 17.81 kilometre sprint up Mt Buller to finish 12 second clear of his rival. Tim Hendy, with co-driver Julie Winton Monet, are in third place in GT2, a further 31 seconds back.
In the RDA Brakes GT4 competition, Trevor Macleod’s 2010 Subaru WRX STI holds a narrow eight second lead over the 2013 Audi TTRS of Max Williams, with another TTRS, driven by Barrie Smith, back in third, just 14 seconds further back.
Duttons Garage Early Modern has a field of 19 cars. Leading the way after the first 93.13 competitive kilometres is Victorian driver, Alan Roe, in his 2000 Mitsubishi Evo 6.5. He has a very handy 51-second buffer over Adam Kaplan in a 2004 BMW M3 CSL, with Liam Howarth, in a 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R, a further 32 seconds back and one minute 23 seconds off the leader’s pace.
The Shannons Classic GT competition is lead by Tasmanian Peter Nunn in his 1985 Porsche 944. The highly experienced Targa driver found the roads to his liking, and has a handy one minute 20 second buffer over Mick Downey (1971 Holden Torana), with South Australian Craig Haysman third, a further one minute 15 seconds in arrears.
In the handicap battle, Shannons Classic, Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin, in a 1985 Mazda RX-7, have a very big one minute 47 second margin over the 1971 Porsche 916 of Ted Banks and Brian Douglas, with local couple, Brian and Linda McDermott back in third, their 1971 Torana just four seconds further back.
In the Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy, Anthony and Toni Rizzo have had a day to remember, finishing back on Mt Buller with a one minute 06 second lead over fellow Subaru STI drivers, Jordon and Debbie Bridge. Adam Gosling and Ian Noble are third, another eleven seconds back in their 2002 BMW E46 M3.
The combination of Brian and Justin Marshall, in a 2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI, lead the TSD Trophy, accumulating just six points penalty on the run out to Eurora and back. Six points behind in second is Darryl and Peter Marshall, driving the popular Ford Pursuit Ute, with Brendan and Jeffrey James third on 20 points in their beautiful 2015 Lotus Evora.
All eyes today were on Grant Denyer. The TV personality was debuting the latest Lotus Exige Sport 350. He got through unscathed, and sits in seventh place, just one position ahead of motorsport legend, Jim Richard, driving a Porsche Cayman GT4.
Day Two of Targa High Country is a much shorter day, but the quick open roads on the run from Mansfield to Whitfield will test driver and car. The field, of nearly 200 cars, will return to Mansfield for a 4.5 kilometre street stage, due to commence at 2:30 with he cars and drivers remaining for a Targa Fest in the town’s main street.
The final day will do doubt prove to be the sting in the tail, with the cars tackling a further 125 competitive kilometres.