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Stokell primed for Championship finale

Paul Stokell will take a measured approach going into Targa High Country from November 9 to 11, that will decide the inaugural CAMS Australian Targa Championship.

Paul Stokell - making his debut at Targa High Country

Stokell, driving a Lotus Exige, heads the modern championship points standings going into the fourth and final tarmac rally based at the Victorian ski resort town of Mount Buller on 206 points, 35 clear of John Ireland in his 2017 Dodge Viper ACR.

Jason White, in his 2016 Dodge Viper ACR Extreme, is only one point further back on 170 points with a maximum 70 points on offer for the winner.

The three-way fight for Modern competition honours sees Stokell intent on getting to the finish of the event, which embraces over 270km of competitive distance over three legs.

Stokell again brings on board New Zealand-based co-driver Malcolm Read, who called the notes when the pair finished a gallant second behind White’s more powerful Dodge Viper at Targa Great Barrier Reef, in September.

“We are just focused on a consistent run and bringing home the Championship,” Stokell said.

“Our car is pretty much standard as it came out of the box last year and we haven’t done too much to it development wise.

“We are not in a position to challenge some of the more powerful cars, although we gave it a fair crack up in Cairns.”

“It’s an Australian Championship on the line and I’ve won a few of those over the years, so to have the opportunity to be even close at this stage of my life is pretty cool.”

The Tasman-born Queenslander has a decorated history highlighted with three Australian Driver’s Championships, two Australian Nations Cup crowns and the Australian Mini Challenge title.

It will be the first time Stokell has entered Targa High Country, which takes in 20 special stages in the state’s north east around Mansfield.

“We are looking forward to the challenge and bringing it home at the end,” Stokell added.

“Some of the guys have been up and down Mount Buller many times so I don’t pretend to be in contention outright but we’ll give it a crack.”

John Ireland and co-driver Janet Binns have enjoyed a consistent season after swapping their Porsche GT4, from last year to the Dodge Viper.

“We’ve been getting more and more confident in the car and going into High Country it’s an event that will suit us where Cairns didn’t,” Ireland, who finished in fourth overall at the first running of Targa Great Barrier Reef two months ago.

“There’s a lot more open high speed stuff that suits the car at High Country.

“Realistically we are up against professional drivers in Jason White and Paul Stokell.

“It would take mechanical problems or for them to come off the road for us to have a serious chance of winning

“But we are expecting to be there or thereabouts.

“Providing we finish well enough we are in a good position in the points to finish in the top three, in both categories (Modern and GT2).

“I’ve really enjoyed driving the car and Janet is getting a lot more comfortable in the co-drivers seat. We are pretty enthusiastic about turning up and having a good go.”

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