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Stokell charged to maintain Targa points push

Queenslander Paul Stokell and new Kiwi co-driver Malcolm Read are looking forward to continuing their climb on the points table when the inaugural Targa Great Barrier Reef starts tomorrow.

Paul Stokell lines up for scrutineering

Stokell is leading the GT2 class and is second outright going into the third of the new four-round CAMS Australian Targa Championship.

“We’ve had a good run this year,” Stokell said.

“We’ve just got to finish this weekend and keep the points coming.”

Stokell, an experienced and accomplished circuit racer, is taking a measured approach in the event which offers a fresh challenge of relentlessly winding roads and warmer climate of the tropics.

“It’s a level playing as its new to everybody,” Stokell said.

“Some of the roads look like they will suit us and some are maybe a bit faster and might suit the Viper and the faster cars.

“What we lose in a straightline we make up for under brakes and cornering so it should be a tight tussle.”

“Being a new rally I think the public are behind it and the council and government are behind it.

“There is a great atmosphere here. To have something new on the calendar and to bring this travelling road show to a fresh audience, we are really looking forward to it.”

Stokell remains focussed on a disciplined, controlled approach at the newest event in Australian tarmac rallying.

“You don’t want to drive too hard on roads you don’t know. It only takes one corner to catch you out and you are out of the rally,” he said.

“These events are not run on a racetrack so you have got to go in with a mindset that we want to push on but at the end of the day you want to come home as well.

“It is a lot more dangerous than a circuit where you have a lot of safety barriers and run off as a safety net.

“This is probably one of the last true tests of man and machine on a road without being over policed.

“It’s great to drive on these roads without speed limits but we need to be sensible.

“And first timers need to take that on board as well because we have all been caught in the past.”

Stokell concedes his main rival remains Jason and John White in the Dodge Viper.

“We certainly should be a bit closer to him (White) so we’ll see how it goes. But they are our main rivals,” Stokell said.

White has completed an exhausting preparation over the last month of reconnaissance and in-car footage of the 18-stage event that comprises 238.89km of competitive distance.

Leaving little to chance, the Whites have taken the unusual step of beefing up their air-conditioning, something which is not even needed at events such as Targa Tasmania.

“We’ve probably done as much work on our air conditioning system as anything else,” Jason White said.

“The roads are challenging as well with a couple of decent hillclimbs up the Gillies Range and Kuranda.

“The corners are relentless and it’s going to be a big challenge for the navigators.”

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.

The official start is from the Cairns Reef Hotel Casino tomorrow 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.

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