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Passionate officials, volunteers bring Targa to life

By their very nature the business of tarmac rallies are logistically complicated events that take a colossal amount of planning and management.
It takes a lot of people to put on the Targa show. Photo credit: Angryman Photography
The second running of Targa Great Barrier Reef from August 30 to September 1 is no exception.

Embracing a large chunk of the Cairns and Atherton Tablelands region the event was first staged in 2018.
Spread over three days, TGBR comprises 16 competitive stages totalling 214km with a further 800-plus kilometres of transport or liaison stages.

It takes a high level of organisation to ensure an event this size, which will see more than 270 cars take part, runs smoothly.

Safety for competitors and spectators is paramount as well as making sure the schedule of road closures which affect the public, private properties and businesses runs with minimal disruption.

There are teams of volunteers who are passionate enough about the sport to offer their time to help Targa meet its huge amount of challenges.

“From the stage teams, events teams and the personnel in the Command Centre, the amount of volunteers needed to put on an event of this calibre is huge,” a Targa official said.

“I was quite amazed last year as to how quickly we filled the necessary volunteer spots which is a big vote of confidence from the people in the area.”

While officials and volunteers are out in force on the stages, the rally Command Centre that includes the clerk of the course, key event officials, police and other emergency services is the engine which keeps the whole event ticking.

The communications in the Command room is fully equipped and uses the highly acclaimed RallySafe GPS data system which can alert officials to an incident as soon as it happens.

The technology can tell officials where a vehicle has been involved in an incident, if it has rolled, what sort of gradient it is on, determine the level of g-force impact among another key parameters.

Cairns Police Crime Prevention Unit Senior Constable Russell Parker plays a low-key but crucial role in the event Command Centre at the Cairns Convention Centre.

“My job is to be there in case there is an incident and try and co-ordinate communication and information to local media and my local contacts.

“A lot of my work is done prior to the event happening. It’s about educating people about the road closures and telling ordinary members of the public not to join in the competition.

“If there is a bad crash or a serious injury or worse then that’s when I swing into action as the media will jump on those things.” 

“I’m a fan of motorsport in general and I think it’s great we were able to get Targa up here,” Parker said.

“This is a good fit for our region in terms of the infrastructure we have and in terms of capitalising on the beauty of the area it is picturesque stuff.

Senior Constable Parker recalled an impromptu chat with some competitors during the inaugural Targa Great Barrier Reef last year.

“I left the Command room at the Convention Centre on my way back to the station and a couple of guys in a Targa-entered Porsche were sitting at the lights,” he recalled.

“I asked if they were enjoying themselves to which they replied, ‘this event is unbelievable’ and ‘we will definitely be back next year with a bigger contingent from down south because the word will spread’.

“So the message there is that every entrant not only represents a driver and co-driver, it is family, team crew and support people so it’s a huge benefit to us and our local economy. 

“It was very popular with the locals last year. A lot of people turned out. A lot more than I thought would.”

“Last year there were very few incidents and crashes. They all seemed to keep it pretty tidy.”

“Fingers crossed that will continue this year.”

Targa Great Barrier Reef has drawn more than 270 entries across nine categories from a host of makes and models spanning from earlier last century to present-day supercars.

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