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Targa Tasmania set for epic showdown

Another rich mix of marques will tackle Tasmania’s challenging ribbons of bitumen at the 28th running of the state’s showpiece Targa rally which gets underway on Monday.

Attracting 265 entries, the list for Targa Tasmania from April 29-May 4 features a vast array of machines stretching from the 1930’s to present day supercars.

At the sharp end Jason and John White are gunning for a record equalling eighth outright victory with their GT2 class Dodge Viper.

The Whites are out to stretch their unbeaten streak to five events since taking Targa Tasmania last year.

Matt Close and co-driver Cameron Reeves have touched off an exhaustive recce preparation in a bid to reel in the might of the Viper.

Close was clawing into the White’s lead going into the final day of Targa Tasmania last year when he slipped off the road pushing on cold tyres on the Tinterbox stage.

Another strong outright and GT2 contender is former Tasmanian, Paul Stokell and Kate Catford in the upgraded 2014 Lotus Exige 350. 

Queensland-based Stokell, fourth outright in the event last year and the reigning CAMS Australian Targa Champion, is determined to win his former home state’s most celebrated motorsport event.

The 2018 runner-up Steve Glenney switches cars and co-drivers this year with the experienced driver joined by Dennis Sims in a 2018 Lotus Exige 350.

Another strong crew in the outright mix is the all-Tasmanian combination of Michael Pritchard and Gary Mourant in the 2016 Porsche GT3 RS who are looking to build on their powerful third last year.

Outside of the main competition, there are three Vintage entries headed by the returning Graham Copeland and Josh Herbert in the open-wheel 1941 GMC Jimmy Special.

The other Vintage contenders are Wayne Clark and Trevor Berriman, who will do battle in their 1938 Dodge Speedster Special, the oldest machine in the event.

While the other Vintage class contender sees South Australian Jon Williams and Stuart Greaves take charge of a 1969 Triumph Mk 1 saloon.

Experienced duo Paul and Christine Freestone will tackle the Classic category in their 1960 Aston Martin DB4, along with Ashley Yelds and Charlie Hughes (1961 Volvo 122S).

Classic also sees Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter in the mix in their 1985 BMW E30 325s and Nik Prieston and Dylan Braithwaite in the 1975 Fiat 131 Abarth Rallye.

The always entertaining Shannons Classic GT ranks sees Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker (1979 VB Commodore) prepared for a pitched battle against the likes of Michael and Daniel Bray (1975 Holden Torana) and the 1970 Datsun 240Z of Jon and Gina Siddins.

“We went to Winton recently for a test day to set the car up and it turned out to be pretty good but I also got some valuable tips from professional drivers,” Downey said.

“In all honesty Bray and Siddins are the benchmark. 

“There’s a few cars I haven’t seen before and I’m not going in over confident but confident that we can mix it with the best.

“I’m as competitive as can be underneath the smile and I won’t give up until the bitter end.”

A busy Early Modern class appears wide open with Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney out to atone for their DNF last year in the 2004 BMW M3 CSL (lightweight).

Among the contenders in the hotly contested GT4 class are Paul Dowie and new co-driver James Marquet in the 2010 Audi TT RS Plus, 2018 runners-up Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler in the 2015 Nissan GTR and former outright winner Tony Quinn in a 2018 Nissan GTR.

The usual suspects return in the trophy classes with Daryl and Peter Marshall (Ford Pursuit Ute) and Peter and Tristan Taylor (Lotus Elise S) heading TSD ranks, first and second in the event last year.

GT Sports sees Martin Duursma and Richard Wodhams defend their crown in the Lotus Exige 430 Cup while Thoroughbred sees 2018 winners Jack Waldron and Vin Gregory return in the 1981 Mitsubishi Sigma.

Fans can get up close to all the cars at the three official TargaFests. In Launceston the cars will be on display at the Silverdome Expo on Sunday April 28 and Wednesday May 1 from 6pm to 9pm, and in Hobart, you can see the cars at MAC2 on Friday May 3 from 6pm to 9pm.

During the event you can follow all the action at Targalive at targa.com.au

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