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White eyes High Country outright title

The Tasmanian combination of Jason and John White have completed another strong day at Targa High Country to build a handy 35 second lead with just one day remaining at the Mt Buller-based event.

The Whites started the second day with a 25 second buffer over the Porsche GT3 RS of Matt Close and Cameron Reeves

Across the first two stages the Dodge Viper ACR Extreme driver extended his lead, first taking two seconds off Close on the run off Mt Buller and a further seven on the 7.42 kilometre Barwite.

Tolmie was next up and it was Close that set the quickest time, but only by one second, to reduce the margin to 33 second, the margin at the lunchbreak after both cleaned the Whitfield stage.

The battle for the final place on the outright podium was intense across the eight stages, with overnight fourth, Craig Dean and Mary Hughes in their 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT, moving narrowly ahead of Jeff Morton and co-driver Stuart Benson in their 2017 Lotus Exige.

The afternoon run to Mansfield started with White and Close cleaning the first two stages. On the penultimate stage White wrestled another two seconds from his Porsche rival to cross the finish line in Mansfield 35 seconds clear with one day to go.

Paul Stokell and Malcolm Read continued to play it safe with the CAMS Australian Championship title in mind, but have moved up to fifth outright in their Lotus Exige.

“We’ve had a really good run today,” White said in Mansfield. “Apart from dropping a second here and there, the rest of the stages have produced quite good gains.

“We’ve just about used up our front tyres, so we’re putting our spares on for tomorrow and we should be okay.

We only used them for one stage yesterday in the run up Mount Buller, so they’re in good condition.”

The first three outright – White, Close and Dean - are also leading Mount Buller GT2 standings.

In the Shannons Classic GT competition, Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney (Mazda RX7) started the day with a 38 second lead over Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker in their 1979 Holden Commodore.

But Downey had his foot to the floor on the opening stage, reducing that margin by three seconds, with Michael and Daniel Bray (Holden Torana) still in third, but one minute and two seconds behind the class leader.

In a see-sawing affair across the morning, where the top two Classic GT cars would swap narrow stage wins, Kaplan arrived at the lunch break with a 36 second lead over Downey. That tightness continued across the afternoon’s four stages with Kaplan’s Mazda taking a 36 second lead into day three on the run to Eildon and back.

“It’s been a fabulous day trading times with Mick Downie he only got two secs off us over the whole day,” Kaplan said.

“We’ve lost fifth gear in our gearbox today after losing fourth gear yesterday, so we’re down to a three-speed now.

“We’re going to put the standard gearbox back in it, but I’d say we’re going to be a lot slower tomorrow, but we’ll just do the best we can to stay ahead.”

Graham Copeland and Josh Herbert lead the Shannons Classic handicap competition in their 1941 GMC Jimmy Special, one minute and one second clear of Colin Byrne and Michael Partridge in their Alfa Romeo GTV 2000.

In GT4, Paul Dowie and co-driver James Marquet continued on their winning way in their 2010 Audi TT RS Plus to enjoy a two minute seven second buffer over Geoffrey and Toni Hewitt in a GT-R with Max Willaims and Bruce Bush in an Audi TTRS, slipping back to third. 

In Dutton Garage Early Modern category, Liam and Larry Howarth built on their opening day 42 second advantage to sit one minute 21 seconds clear of Stephen Marlin and Stephen Horobinin an Evo 9. Tony Quinn did not start the day after overnight mechanical issues forced him to retire from the event.

NSW pair Mark and Scott Meletopoulo continue to lead the way in the Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy in their Lotus Exige S, now one minute 15 seconds clear of Martin Duursma/Richard Wodhams (Exige Cup 430).

In the Mansfield Shire Thoroughbred Trophy, Jack Waldron and Vin Gregory are enjoying a three-minute lead in their Mitsubishi Sigma.

Peter and Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S) continue to lead the Mt Buller TSD Trophy.

While there are just four stages on the final day, they tally 120 competitive kilometres. It is the longest day of the 271-competitive kilometre event, with the sting in the tail being the final run up the road to the finish line on Mt Buller.

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