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Crews finalise preparations as Targa Great Barrier Reef start looms

Australia’s topline tarmac rally racers are touching off final preparations for the inaugural Targa Great Barrier Reef.

Ross Dunkerton rolls into scrutineering

Based in Cairns, the rally is the first large scale motorsport for the region with the field launching into the first of the competitive stages tomorrow.

Teams have conducted a final reconnaissance drive through the 18 stages with the field of 215 entries confronted with 238.89km of competitive running over three days.

Crews have taken the opportunity to fine-tune their pace notes for the fresh event which will offers a new level of challenges on the narrow and ever-turning sections across the Atherton Tablelands.

With higher temperatures in the tropics, competitors are mindful of maintaining the right levels of fluids while many crews have made adjustments to the cooling systems in their machines.

The other three rounds of the CAMS Australian Targa Championship are based in the cooler climes of Tasmania and Victoria.

Former yacht racer Bruce Absolon, who severed his sailing ties when he sold the 60-foot former Sydney-to-Hobart race record-holder Spirit of the Maid (nee Nokia) two years ago, is debuting the 2005 Porsche 911 Turbo S.

He purchased the 996 series Zuffenhausen machine, adorned in iconic Gulf livery, last November. Absolon is looking forward to the event which has continued to gain plenty of traction through the tropical North Queensland community.

 Final scrutineering checks of machines continues today ahead of the ceremonial start outside the Cairns Convention Centre tomorrow morning.

The field then faces the 6.01km opening stage at Green Hill before the first true test, the 19.47km Gillies Range run.

Enthusiasts are welcome to see the machinery and crews at close quarters at the Targa Expo at the Convention Centre from 6pm-8pm on Friday night.

A selection of 50 entries can be viewed with free entry through door 21.

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