At 65 years old, Jeff Beable is proof that age is no barrier to competing in world class motorsport events.

Together with his wife Nerida, 60, the retired Victorian is gearing up for his 17th entry into Australia’s premier tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, and can’t wait for the April 27 to May 2 event to get under way.

The Beables best result in Targa Tasmania came back in 2000 when they drove their Nissan Skyline to a brilliant third outright, behind only Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald in Porsches.

Ten years on, they are again Nissan Skyline mounted, but their focus in 2010 is firmly on a top three finish in the Early Modern competition (1982-2002), where they finished second last year.

“The real thrill of entering Targa Tasmania is catching up with the many friends we’ve made in the sport over the years,” Beable said. “And of course driving on the wonderful Tasmanian roads.

“Another top three finish in Early Modern would be nice, but finishing safely is the best plan.”

Like most crews, the Beables will purchase safety notes prior to Targa Tasmania, then complete their own reconnaissance to modify them to their liking.

With changeable weather conditions as Targa Tasmania moves around the state, having the confidence in your car, your co-driver and your pacenotes is imperative to success – something the Beables know only too well.

Nerida has co-driven for Jeff in every tarmac rally they’ve done. Along with the 16 Targa Tasmania events completed, they have also contested Targa West, and crossed the Tasman for Targa New Zealand.

Their results have been as impressive as their longevity in the sport. Along with third outright in Targa Tasmania, they have also finished in the top 10 on four occasions in the Modern competition, and were on the podium when the Early Modern class debuted in 2009.

The Beable’s 2000 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec N1 is ideally suited to the twisty roads of Australia’s southernmost state, and to it’s unpredictable weather.

“The wetter the better,” Beable says of his preference from the weather gods.

The Beables will share a service crew with other competitors at Targa Tasmania, helping to reduce their costs to a manageable level.

“In the early years it used to be hard to get yourself up and going for the full length of Targa, but now we have done it so many times, we could easily do it for twice as long.”

Which begs the question. For how many more years do the Beables see themselves on the start line at Targa Tasmania?

“At our age, who knows? But we love the event and look forward to it every year,” Jeff says.

It seems likely that the Beable Skyline will be on the entry list for many years to come.

After a 5.1 kilometre prologue around the streets of George Town to decide the event running order on Tuesday, April 27, Targa Tasmania 2010 will see competitors tackle 39 Targa stages over a total competitive distance of over 400 kilometres.

The 19th Targa Tasmania is primarily based in Launceston, while the event also spends one night in the west coast town of Strahan, before finishing in Hobart on May 2.
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