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Whites secure seventh Targa Tasmania victory

Jason and John White have withstood ailing tyres to produce a stunning victory in Australia’s showpiece tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania.

Celebrations - Targa Tasmania 2018 run and won

After just under 500km of competitive distance across 33 special stages, the Whites set the pace at the front all week.

Leading from the outset, the Dodge Viper duo have now moved to within one win of the all-time event winning record set by the highly decorated former touring car champion Jim Richards and former long-time commentator Barry Oliver.

With a winning margin of 1minute and five seconds, the Viper showed a clean pair of heels throughout the six-day tarmac rally. It was the 21st time the Whites have tackled Targa Tasmania who also claimed victory in the Wrest Point GT2 class.

Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis completed a solid campaign in their Subaru WRX STI in second place. The pair also took out the RDA Brakes GT4 class and now lead the modern section of the CAMS Australian Targa Championship.

Hobart doctor Michael Pritchard and co-driver Gary Mourant finished third outright and second in GT2 standings in their Porsche. It was their second successive podium at the event.

Paul Stokell and Erin Kelly were fourth in a Lotus Exige S with Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler fifth in a Nissan GT-R. There were five different manufacturers represented in the top five outright placings.

in the Shannons Classic GT, Michael and Daniel Bray romped to a huge class win. Their 1975 Holden Torana proved unstoppable as it continued to increase the gap on the final day, eventually finishing with a buffer of almost nine minutes over Mark Hammond and Dennis Neagles 1980 Jaguar XJS. The win also secured the Brays the lead in the classic Australian Targa Championship 

The only car which had a realistic chance of reeling in the Whites, the Porsche GT3 of Matt Close and Cameron Reeves, speared off the road half a kilometre into the opening stage of the day south of Hobart.

It meant the Whites could back-off and coast across the remaining stages, a welcome relief for the Viper which had become vulnerable with fading rubber.

Close and Reeves had clutched an outside chance of snatching a surprise victory going into the final six stages before their unfortunate exit put an end to a possible come-from-behind win.

Close, although bitterly disappointed, was proud of the effort his crew put in to challenge White through the week.

“Unfortunately on cold tyres I just asked a bit too much of them,” Close said. “I take the blame. We are proud because we took it up to him (White) and I don’t think he’s had that sort of pressure for a long time.”

Jason White praised the effort Close put in, saying it was the hardest he has had to drive in any previous Targa campaign.

“That’s by far the hardest we have had to drive,” White said. “We were actually having a lot more sweat about what was going on with the tyres. It really forced John and I to be at the top of our game. 

“But it wasn’t so good to see Matt go off.

“We’ve had to manage a few issues with the chassis as well as the tyres ourselves through the week. One of the things about this event is managing your head and not panicking. 

“A lot of the stages where we took big chunks of time out we were really out of our comfort zone. It was really nice to up the ante and discover a new level.”

Bray was delighted to secure the Classic GT win.

“The weather has been great, the car has been great,” Bray said. “I’ve done it with my brother and family and it’s been really good week.”

“We have been trying to manage our tyres, We knew there was no rain coming and it’s all worked out well.”

In other Targa Tasmania classes, Graham Copeland and Josh Herbert guided the 1941 GMC Jimmy Special to a comfortable victory in the Shannons Classic Handicap. Copeland was always in charge of the handicap event with almost seven minutes to spare over the 1961 Volvo 122S of Ashley Yelds and Charlie Hughes.

In the Duttons Garage Early Modern category Josh Sutcliffe and Jon Mitchell (2006 Subaru) managed to claim victory after a close week-long fight with the 1995 Nissan Skyline of Liam and Larry Howarth.

The Budget TSD Trophy has seen Darryl and Peter Marshall secure another triumph in their Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute after compiling 55 penalty points, 38 fewer than than the Peter and Tristan Taylor Lotus Exige. It is the second successive year the Marshall’s have triumphed in the class.

Jack Waldron and Vin Gregory were big winners in the Spirit of Tasmania Thoroughbred Trophy in their 1981 Mitsubishi Sigma.

Martin Duursma and Richard Wodhams took the spoils in the Country Club GT Sports Trophy in their 2013 Lotus Exige S, two places higher than their result last year.

Justin Gan and David Hart made a one-act affair of the Rookie Classic GT in their 1978 Porsche 911 while in Rookie Early Modern, Adam Gosling and Ian Noble scored a big win in their 2002 BMW E46 M3. 

There was no catching Jeff Morton and Steve Fisher in their 2017 Lotus Exige in the Rookie GT standings after scoring by more than 13 minutes.

The third round of the CAMS Australian Targa Championship is the inaugural Targa Graet Barrier Reef to be held in Cairns from August 31 to September 2.

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