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White eyes victory at Targa Great Barrier Reef

Tasmanian Jason White has completed another invincible display to head into the final day of the Targa Great Barrier Reef tarmac rally armed with a crucial buffer.

Credit: Angryman Photography

Amid the energy-sapping heat of Tropical North Queensland, White and his co-driving uncle John have duplicated their trail-blazing form that saw them net a record-equalling seventh Targa Tasmania triumph in April.

The White Viper has moved to a 45 second lead over the Lotus Exige of Jeff Morton and Cameron Reeves. 

Paul Stokell and Malcolm Read, in another Lotus, had occupied second for much of the day but slipped to third, a mere one second behind Morton and Reeves.

Helped by an exacting lead-up preparation for the maiden Cairns event, the Whites will go into the final six stages intent on protecting their lead. 

Setting a blistering pace, the Tasmanian crew have managed to thwart the more nimble and agile machines on the tight and turning Atherton Tablelands stages.

However White is mindful his job is far from complete. 

The final six stages on Sunday total more than 111km which comprises nearly half of the total distance of the entire rally.

“The first stage tomorrow (Kuranda Range) is one we earmarked as our best chance and it really suits our Viper,” Jason White said.

“But the rest of the stages up on the Atherton Tableland are very tight, narrow, tricky and treacherous ones, so we’ll have to work hard.

“The air-conditioning is just holding up and I said before the event this was going to be one a navigator would play a bigger role in winning.”

Stokell and Read had slowed for an accident on TS7 in the morning competition but officials later adjusted the times, ensuring the pair were not disadvantaged.

Stokell concedes the Viper holds the trump card with its prodigious grunt.

“The Viper is a weapon and we’re struggling on anything which goes uphill

where they have a real horsepower advantage. That’s showing on the times,” Stokell said.

“However we potentially could come away from this weekend with the outright and GT2 championship lead, so we’re playing the long game really.”

Fourth outright and leading the Dutton Garage Early Modern category is the 2001 Porsche 996 Turbo of Tony Quinn and Kate Catford, just over three minutes off the outright lead.

In the Shannons Classic GT standings, Michael and Daniel Bray (Holden Torana) continue to set the pace, leading Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker (Holden V8 Commodore) by just over one minute.

Ashley Yelds and Charlie Hughes are heading up the Shannons Classic Handicap class in their Volvo 122S, holding a slender four second lead over the Porsche 944 of Leigh Achterberg and Greg Fitzgerald.

The 2011 Nissan GTR of Mark Balcombe and Brian Foster remains the GT4 benchmark. The pair enjoy a 23 second lead over Geoffrey and Toni Hewitt’s Nissan GTR R35.

GT Sports Trophy competition sees Mark and Scott Meletopoulo (Lotus Exige S) edge the Mitchell and Darryl Ringuet Lotus Exige Sport 350 by 15s.

John Coleman and David Richardson lead the Thoroughbred Trophy class in their Alfa Romeo GTV by four seconds over Tim and Kym Hall’s Holden Commodore.

TSD Trophy action has seen some intense action with Darryl and Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute) moving into the lead on 25 points from Peter and Tristan Taylor (Lotus Elise S) who have 33 points.

Cars are expected back at the Cairns Convention Centre around 3pm on Sunday for the champagne spray to mark the end of the first Targa Great Barrier Reef.

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From the ground, in the air and onboard, relive the drama, excitement and colour from the 27th running of the World’s Ultimate Tarmac Rally.

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