The leading drivers are gearing themselves up for the start of the second Targa Wrest Point tarmac rally, which gets under way in Hobart tomorrow morning.

Around 150 cars in the Modern, Classic and Showroom categories have 14 stages and 210 kilometres of competitive driving ahead of them over the two days of the event, with fine and sunny weather predicted.

Jason White (Lamborghini Gallardo), Dean Herridge (Subaru Impreza) and Steve Jones (Nissan GT-R), three of the favourites in the Modern class, are all expecting a tough battle, and all are hopeful of finishing on the podium after two tough days.

“I hope we’ve done enough homework to be able to keep at the pointy end of the field,” last year’s third placegetter, and local favourite, Jason White said.

“It’s a shame that Greg Garwood (last year’s winner) has had to withdraw, but there are plenty of other drivers more than capable of filling the number one position on Sunday night.”

Many drivers are also intent on building their points score in what is also round two of the Australian Tarmac Championship (ATC).

“For sure, it would be great to win the ATC, but we enter all events in the championship with the plan on winning, so this weekend really isn’t any different,” White said.

Western Australian Steve Jones, on his debut at Targa Wrest Point, has a slightly different plan of attack, with points one of his main goals.

“Finishing anywhere on the podium would be great, but our priority is the ATC, so it’s important that we finish the event as high up the order as possible,” Jones said.

“The roads south of Hobart should suit our Nissan. The car is very capable and I have a lot more experience than when I last competed in Targa Tasmania last April.”

With 12 months of development on his Subaru, Dean Herridge is also hopeful of a position in the top three, but he’s well aware that the Lamborghinis, Porsches and Nissan will be tough to beat.

“I’d like more gravel on the stages, which might help us considerably,” the gravel rally champion joked. “We know that our car is fast and reliable, but we also understand that it will be a tough weekend.”

The classic category (for cars manufactured between 1946 and 1981) is rapidly growing in popularity, with experienced Victorian driver Peter Eames one of the favourites in his 1974 Porsche 911.

Eames’ battle with fellow Porsche driver, Bill Pye, is expected to be one of the highlights of Targa Wrest Point. Eames was second in 2009, but Pye was in line for a victory until an accident mid-way through the final day.

Weather is also likely to play a big part in the results, although the rain many drivers have been wishing for is unlikely to materialize.

One of those drivers is popular Hobart driver Adrian Morrisby, whose 1975 Holden Gemini took an incredible fifth in 2009.

“We’ve chosen soft tyres in the hope of rain, but it looks like we might have made the wrong choice,” Morrisby said. “Targa Wrest Point is a great event with a quality field, so we can’t wait to get started, regardless of the weather.

“We’ve got a lot of local support because it’s our home event, and we’re hoping to put on a good show for the spectators.”

The first stage of Targa Wrest Point starts just after 9.00am tomorrow morning, with seven stages, including the Tahune Airwalk stage. A further seven stages complete the event on Sunday, with the winners spraying the champagne at Wrest Point at 2.30pm.

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