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Winners are grinners in Cairns classic

Jason White has deflected three days of intense pressure to claim a thrilling outright win in the Cairns-based Targa Great Barrier Reef.
Photo credit: Angryman Photography

White and his co-driving uncle John White guided their hulking Dodge Viper Extreme through the gruelling Tropical North Queensland event and repeat their success from the inaugural tarmac rally last year.


Tasmanian White went into the final day, consisting of six special stages, with a slender 11 second lead before ultimately extending his margin at the finish to 53 seconds.


White made his move on TS14 when he ripped 23 seconds away from his nearest pursuer.


Paul Stokell and Kate Catford tried valiantly to rein in the Whites in their small but rapid Lotus Exige but fell short of a second successive victory after their breakthrough triumph in Targa Tasmania this year.


Mark Cates and Declan Stafford (Nissan GTR R35) were third outright in a podium that was duplicated in the It’s Live in Queensland GT2 class.


White was delighted to be back on the winner’s list after mechanical troubles ruined his Targa Tasmania campaign in May.


“We had definitely had a plan on how fast we had to go based on last year,” White explained.


“The stage times we were doing up until Kuranda were pretty much on par with what I planned was required to win.


“But obviously Paul (Stokell) had done a bit of work and pushed us out of that comfort zone a bit. 


“We had a bit of a situation on our hands. The run into Millaa Millaa and out to Palmerstone was exceptional. It was 100 percent commitment and a few sketchy moments but we were in the zone.


“It was a good bit of teamwork in the car and John was calling the notes perfectly.”


NSW driver Luke Anear came out on top after a titanic tussle with Targa veterans Tony Quinn and Dale Moscatt to claim the Cairns Regional Council GT4 class.


Anear and co-driver Alan Stephenson (2015 Subaru WRX) prevailed by 31 seconds and did a splendid job to be classified fourth outright.  

Hot favourites Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker (1979 Holden Commodore VB) ended up running away with the Shannons Classic GT honours.


Downey broke clear after TS13 (Moregatta) and was never in doubt as he won by more than three minutes from Anthony Genocchio/Scott Hamilton (Holden HDT Commodore).


"All the temp issues from yesterday we sorted out so here we are," Downey said. "If our good mate Mr Bray (Michael Bray the 2018 TGBR Classic GT winner) is reading this we were beating his stage times from last year. But seriously Jarrod (co-driver Van Den Akker) had to keep me in check today."


In the classic car classes, Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter held on for Shannons handicap honours in his 1985 BMX 325i, and Graham Copeland and Josh Herbert was second in the oldest car in the field, the 1941 GMC Jimmy Special.


Liam and Larry Howarth (Nissan Skyline R35) were untroubled in Dutton Garage Early Modern, claiming the class win by 5:46s.


Cary White and David McMillan (Subaru Impreza) were second while rallying legend Ross Dunkerton and Alan Stean (Mitsubishi Evo IIX) were third.


In the Reef Hotel & Casino GT Sports Trophy category, Mitchell Ringuet and Darryl Ringuet (Lotus Exige Sport 350) held strong to defeat Tony and Sandra Seymour (Lotus Exige Sport 350) by 44 seconds. Mitchell gave his co-driving dad the ultimate Father’s Day present with their first Targa class win.


Tyson and Celise Cowie (Ford Escort Mk1) scored a comfortable win in Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy, completing the event more than six minutes clear of Tim and Kym Hall’s Holden Commodore.


In one of the closest fights over the weekend, the points-based TSD Trophy section was taken out by Peter and Tristan Taylor (Lotus Elise S) who finished with 12 points, four less than Darryl Marshall and Peter Marshall.


The final round of the Targa series is in Victoria in November, but in just its second running, Targa Great Barrier Reef has established its credentials as one of the country's finest tarmac rallies.


What the drivers said Day 3 …

Our reporter caught up with some of the winners following the conclusion to the second edition of the Targa Great Barrier Reef event.


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Winners are grinners in Cairns classic

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