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Winners celebrate at Targa High Country

Victorian Matt Close has taken his Porsche GT3 to outright victory and GT2 competition honours at Targa High Country, which finished at the top of Mt Buller late today.
Matt Close in his Porsche GT3 (Pic Angryman Photography)
After the opening two days of intense duelling, Close started the final leg with just a one second lead over fellow GT2 competitor, Tasmanian Michael Pritchard, driving a Dodge Viper ACR. 

Overnight snow on Mt Buller saw Close adopt a cautious approach on the wet and slippery run down the mountain, and he dropped 16 seconds to his rival. But on the very next stage he bounced back, grabbing the lead on the 40 kilometre long Jamieson test. With his confidence high, and hard tyres now working well, Close pushed on to extend his lead on every stage, finishing the three-day enduro 59 seconds clear of his fellow GT2 competitor.

Third in the Mt Buller GT2 competition went to Craig Dean and Kate Catford in a 2015 Mustang Shelby GT, one minute 14 seconds further back.

In Shannons Classic GT Peter Nunn looked set for an emphatic victory having led from the very start on Friday morning, but on the penultimate stage his 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo developed clutch problems forcing him out of the rally. His misfortune handed the lead and the competition victory to South Australian, Craig Haysman, in his thumping 1979 Triumph TR7 V8.  The Targa veteran, with co-driver Julie Boorman, finished three minutes and 38 seconds clear of Mark Hammond and Lisa Dunkerton in a 1980 Jaguar XJS. Roger Lomman and Annie Bainbridge were third in their 1971 Datsun 20Z third, another one minute 29 seconds further back.

There were no similar late surprises in the Shannons Classic competition, with Lindsay Stone and Simon Martin leading from start to finish in their 1985 Mazda RX-7.  The 1971 Porsche 916 of Ted Banks and Bruce Douglas kept the pressure on until the end, eventually finishing just 45 seconds in arrears, while Colin Byrne and Paul Stoopman performed strongly to move up to third, one minute and 26 seconds behind Stone in their 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000.

One of the drives of the event came from Alan Roe and Michael Lloyd, who took the Duttons Garage Early Modern honours in their 2000 Mitsubishi Evo 6.5RS. Roe was quick across all of the 277.71 competitive kilometres, and in outright terms was third fastest overall. Second in Early Modern went to the highly consistent pairing of Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney, one minute 31 seconds behind Roe, with Liam and Larry Howarth, in a 1995 Nissan GT-R, rounding out the podium a further one minute 12 seconds back.

In the RDA Brakes GT4 competition, Trevor Macleod had the highly experienced Steve Glenney calling the notes, and they proved a formidable combination in their 2010 Subaru WRX STI. Others around them faltered, with overnight second placed Barrie Smith and Anthony McLoughlin forced out on TS16 when their Audi TTRS had mechanical issues. Their bad luck left the door open to Tasmanian Crichton Lewis, who improved on his fifth here last year to take second place two minutes 07 seconds back, with yet another Subaru STI WRX combination, Nathan and Nicholas Stokes, in third, six minutes 01 seconds off the pace.

In the Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy, Anthony and Toni Rizzo continued their great form to take their 1977 Subaru WRX STI to victory over the fast finishing James Bullock and Ben Dearlove in a Porsche GT3. The Porsche pairing started the day in fourth, but charged home to finish one minute 27 seconds behind the Rizzos, with Jordon and Debbie Bridge forced to accept third, having been pipped on the very last stage for second by just 18 seconds.

The combination of Brian and Justin Marshall, in a 2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI, proved too good to lead from start to finish in the TSD Trophy. Across the day’s six stages and 125 competitive kilometres, the pair added just 10 penalty points to take their total to 23 across the three days. Darryl and Peter Marshall, driving the Ford Pursuit Ute, finished second with 33 points after an exceptional final day which saw them only collect four points. Jeffrey Morton and Jarred Kershaw in a 2006 Lotus Elise finished third with 39 points.

While some competitors will head to Classic Adelaide later this month, the focus now moves to Targa Tasmania, the mother of all Targa events in Australia, which will get underway in Launceston on April 24 and finishing in Hobart on April 29. Targa North West, based out of Burnie, will be held on February 18 next year.

For full results visit targa.com.au

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