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Strahan to Hobart a brutal test

Reigning CAMS Australian Targa champion Paul Stokell has increased his outright lead with one day to run at the showcase Targa Tasmania.

Paul Stokell on Queenstown (Photo: Angryman Photography)

Stokell and co-driver Kate Catford are on target to deliver the Lotus brand with a maiden outright and Dutton Garage GT2 victory at the 28th running of the celebrated tarmac rally.

Stokell has chiselled out a two minute 16 second lead in the rear-engined Exige Sport 350 over Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler (Nissan GTR R35) who are comfortably in control in the GT4 class.

Matt Close and Cameron Reeves conceded ground on the run from Strahan to Hobart but remain in third place outright and have two minutes 45 seconds to make up over the final six stages on Saturday.

“I hope we’ve got a good enough lead to win,” Stokell said with caution.

“We got through the wet bits today which suited us, which was ideal to build a lead and try to keep it there.

“We’re not going to do anything silly from here on and hopefully we can hang on.”

Close said he had no answer to counter the speed of Stokell’s Lotus in the wet stages on Day 5.

“We’ve had a pretty relaxing day and it was all about bringing it home in the

wet,” Close said.

“I’ve got nothing for Paul (Stokell) in the wet and he’s doing a great job.”

Mick Downey and Nicholas Browne (1979 Holden Commodore VB) hold a two minute 33 second lead over Michael and Daniel Bray (1975 Holden Torana) after they were given derived times following their off road excursion on the Strahan stage (TS 22).

“Rules are rules, so we’re still there, but morally it’s not how I want to be in

the lead,” Downey said.

“I did have an ‘off’ and the rules say I can still be in the hunt, but it doesn’t feel right, plus it’s directly affected a great mate.

“I’m going to have a drink and sleep on it.”

Guy and John Lilleyman (2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX) have increased their buffer over Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney (2004 BMW M3 CSL) to six minutes 48 seconds in Dutton Garage Early Modern.

An interesting battle for supremacy in Shannons Classic has seen Nik Prieston and Dylan Braithwaite (1975 Fiat Abarth Rallye) carry a two minute 18 second lead into the final day over Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter’s 1985 BMW E30 325i.

Trophy class standings sees Tyson and Celise Cowie (Ford Escort Mk 1) secure a huge 38 minute lead over David Currow and Kit O’Donnell (1969 Fiat 124) in Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy, while in Country Club GT Sports Trophy Steven Sher and Fergal Murphy (Lotus Exige) are edging Tony and Sandra Seymour (2017 Lotus Exige Sport 350) by one min 33 seconds.

A tense fight continues to rage in Budget TSD Trophy with Peter and Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S) moving to share the lead with Darryl and Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute), both crews on 29 points.

Overnight leader in the Spirit of Tasmania Rookie Rallye Adam Garwood and Reubecca Sheldrick’s (Porsche GT3) run came to an end after a crash 10km from the finish of the 33 kilomentre Strahan stage.

Garwood’s exit has left Subaru WRX STI pair Kristian Downing and Richard Woodman as the class leaders, nearly 11 minutes ahead of Darryl and Sharon Carr (Ford Mustang Roush 727).

The final day takes in the traditional six Huon stages south of Hobart across 65 competitive kilometres before returning to MAC2 in the city mid-afternoon for the crowning of the Targa Tasmania winners for 2019.

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