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Winners are grinners at Targa Tasmania

Highly decorated former circuit racer Paul Stokell has conquered Targa Tasmania. Stokell, 51, accomplished his first outright victory and Dutton Garage GT2 class win at the event after negotiating six days of some of the fiercest tarmac rally competition in the world.

Paul Stokell and Kate Catford on Cygnet (Photo: Angryman Photography)

While Stokell won the maiden CAMS Australian Targa Championship last year through

consistent results, this stands as his first Targa event win.

It is also the first outright victory for his experienced co-driver Kate Catford who was

calling the pace notes for Stokell for only the second time.

The win was the first for the Lotus brand at the 28th running of the rally which covered 33

special stages and a total distance of more than 2000km, spanning the length and breadth

of Tasmania.

Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler produced a sterling drive to finish second outright, two

minutes 51 seconds back and with the pair also claiming the GT4 Class in emphatic style.

Matt Close and Cameron Reeves leaked some time over the final six stages but held on for

third outright and second behind Stokell and Catford in the GT2 class.

“I’ve always called Targa Tasmania the hardest event I’ve ever done,” said Stokell, a three

times Australian Driver’s Champion during the 1990s and double Australian Nations Cup

title winner.

“It’s the most challenging and the most individual thing because you are out there on your

own.

“The conditions we had - we went from icy roads that were so slippery that you could

hardly stay on them to high grip, high speed stuff and you’ve got to adapt pretty quickly.

“To win a circuit racing championship you can never take it away but this means a lot.”

Co-driver Catford put in an extraordinary performance given the extreme conditions,

maintaining composure to help Stokell deliver an extraordinary drive.

“This is very special and it has long been a dream of mine,” Catford said. “Sometimes you think

it’s an unrealistic dream so I’m really excited to win Targa Tasmania.

“In the wet conditions it took a lot of focus to get through safely. Paul really drew on all his

experience in the wet.”

Queensland-based former Tasmanian Stokell took over the lead on Day 4 and built a

cushion of more than two minutes on Day 5 through skilfully negotiating the tricky wet

stages leaving Strahan.

Michael and Daniel Bray (1975 Holden Torana) took the spoils in Shannons Classic GT

from the hard-charging Jon and Gina Siddins (1970) Datsun 240Z who closed a 5 minute

gap down to 2min49s at the finish.

Mick Downey and Nicholas Browne produced some solid stages to fight back and finish

third in Classic GT after a 15 minute penalty stripped their lead on Day 5.

“It’s been pretty intense from the start to the finish with no let up,” Bray said.

“The rules made it a bit challenging with the Downey crash at Strahan yesterday and

there’s a few grey areas but we know where it’s at and we accept it.”

Guy and John Lilleyman (2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) scored a big win in Dutton Garage

Early Modern with 9min37s to spare over Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney (2004 BMW

M3 CSL)

Nik Prieston and Dylan Braithwaite (Fiat 131 Abarth Rallye) took the Shannons Classic

category by 2min40s from Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW E30 325i).

Trophy classes saw wins to Steven Sher/Fergal Murphy (Lotus Exige) in Country Club GT

Sports Trophy while Tyson and Celise Cowie (Ford Escort Mk1) took the Shannons

Thoroughbred Trophy.

Spirit of Tasmania Rookie Rallye saw Kristain Downing and Richard Woodman (Subaru

WRX STI) landed the Spirit of Tasmania Rookie Rallye by more than 10 minutes.

After a battle that raged all week Darryl and Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute) took

the Budget TSD Trophy with 31 points from Peter and Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S)

who accumulated penalty 35 points.

The third round in the Australian Targa Championship is the newest in the series, Targa

Great Barrier Reef, to be held in Cairns at the end of August.

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