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Targa campaigner ready for tropical test

Highly experienced tarmac rally entrant David Watson is itching to ease back into the driver’s seat at the exciting new Targa Great Barrier Reef competition in tropical North Queensland.

David Watson at Targa Tasmania in 2017 (Photo: Angryman Photography)

After withdrawing his potent Audi S3 hatch at Targa Tasmania in April shortly before the event when he suffered a shoulder injury, Watson is excited about the CAMS Australian Targa Championship entering the tourism hotspot of Cairns.

Targa Great Barrier Reef involves over 200km of intense competition through 18 stages, which takes in some of the most challenging roads the Atherton Tableland region offers from August 31-September 2.

Watson is arguably the most experienced entrant in Targa competition, having been involved with Targa Tasmania in varying capacities every year since that event’s inception in 1992.

He was coaxed into navigating in an E-Type Jaguar in the non-competitive touring section in April after his injury-induced withdrawal from driving the Audi.

“I’m in one of the unique positions of being involved every event,” Watson said.

“I started out as a paramedic at the first Targa Tasmania in 1992, then in the mid ‘90s I became the deputy medical manager and then manager.

“After leaving the government, I drove the 00 course car for CAMS which I did for 10 years. 

“Then I decided that I wanted to compete so I got hold of a VW Golf and entered Targa Tasmania about 10 years ago as a driver.

“We ran the Golf for half a dozen years and then replaced it with the Audi.

“The Golf had its limitations, as unlike the Audi, it wasn’t a turbo.”

The 2007 model Audi S3 was freighted to Cairns some weeks ago with Watson and his co-driver Ian Cudmore set to complete a single-day recce sweep two days before competition begins on August 29.

“The car is already in Cairns sitting at the naval depot. She’s prepared and we arrive on the Tuesday in the week of event,” Watson said.

“We intend to start our recce on the Wednesday morning. I think we can recce the whole thing in a day.

“There is a bit of repetition with some of the stages. 

“Because I’ve sat on both sides of the fence we know the planning to the nth degree now.

“The Audi has had a fair bit of development work on it and we’ve got it to the point where it’s pretty well bullet-proof.”

Based in Hobart, Watson runs a private ambulance business, which is a flow-on from his days as a paramedic.

Targa Great Barrier Reef will start from the Cairns Reef Hotel Casino on August 31 before the field makes its way to the first of 18 stages at Green Hill.

Locals will also be able to get up close to the cars at Targafest, to be held on The Esplanade in Cairns on Saturday September 1 from 4pm to 9pm.

For a copy of the spectator guide, click here.

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