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Targa Great Barrier Reef Wants To Run Closed Stage on Coast Road

The organisers of the Targa Great Barrier Reef road race want to use the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas for the event, which involves closing the road for up to four hours, as soon as next year if possible.

Targa Australia event director Mark Perry said his organisation planned to use the coastal road north from Cairns but, from early discussions over road closures with Douglas Shire Council, had heeded advice that it should not request to do so in the event’s first year (2018).

The inaugural Targa GBR will be a three-day event starting in Cairns on August 31, conducting race stages in various locales, including the Tablelands, and ending in Cairns on September 2.

“The council gave us great advice that if we say ‘road closure on the coastal road’ people will think it’s like Ironman, but in fact it’s nothing like that. The roads are not closed for anywhere near that time.

“And we will happily close it early in the day, perhaps 7am-11 am, so it’s not impacting on the whole day for people.

“The Confederation of Australian Motorsport did actually ask for that in writing from us that we would pursue a closure for that road in 2018.”

However, when CAMS course checkers analysed the planned course for this year’s event, Mr Perry said, they found that the stage involving the Rex Range Road involved too much driving for competitors who would be expected to compete later in Upper Barron.

CAMS said the risk of fatigue was too great. Mr Perry said that as Targa GBR had given an undertaking to DSC this year not to ask to use the Capt Cook Highway, there was no choice but to delete the Julatten stage from this year’s event.

The organisers had urgently sought, but failed, to find an alternative route in Douglas Shire.

“What it meant to facilitate the course on that day is that they had to drive 100 km to get to that stage [the Julatten stage] and then 100 km to get to Upper Barron for an 8km stage. Council were fantastic in sending out another letter to the residents making them aware of the change,” Mr Perry added.

Mr Perry reiterated there was “absolute intent to come to Douglas Shire next year” .

“We just have to get this event run, we had to deliver a competitive course, and so some things just have to be sacrificed. Ideally, in Year Two, if we can get on the main road, because there’s a 12km stage on there, that would break up that trip up to the Rex Range . .. and then there’d only be one long touring stage to get back to Upper Barron.

“What we need to achieve is other stages in that part of the world to break up the trip. And obviously if we can get Douglas Shire to allow us to use the main road between there and Cairns – there’s a great 12 km section in there that ticks all the boxes – and Tourism Events Qld would really like us on that road because of the obvious backdrop of the Great Barrier Reef.

He said one positive from the exercise regarding the use of the Rex Range Road was the useful feedback from residents, “so we’ve already learned how we could run things better” .

“There’s every intent to run it next year.”

"Tourism Events Queensland would really like us on that road because of the obvious backdrop of the Great Barrier Reef" Targa event manager Mark Perry.


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