Tasmanian David Ayers may be only a part-time rally driver, but the 50-year old from Hobart has entered this year’s Targa Wrest Point determined to repeat his 2009 victory in the Early Modern category.

He describes his victory in last year’s two-day event as his “15 minutes of fame”, but Ayers is selling himself short after a dominant drive in the competition for vehicles built between 1982 and 2002.

Driving his 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-S, Ayers set up his victory on day one, and then held his advantage as engine problems slowed his progress late in the event.

“It was certainly a dream come true to win our local event last year, but I’m also a realist and know that you need a lot of luck to repeat that performance,” Ayers said. “No matter how good your preparation, a simple mechanical problem can end your event,” Ayers said.

“We’re running the same 1995 Skyline as last year, but we’ve tuned the engine to run on the new E85 fuel, and we don’t know what kind of impact that will have on our performance.

“We are one of only a few crews running the new E85 fuel at Targa Wrest Point, so it will be a real learning curve. I guess we’ll be the guinea pigs for many of the other crews who will switch to E85 for Targa Tasmania.”

Ayers believes another Tasmanian, Leigh Finlayson, will be his biggest challenger after a successful 2009 season.

“Leigh won his class in the State Championship for circuit racing, and he and his Lancer Evo will be hard to beat.”

Another driver expected to challenge for the victory is Tasmanian Chris Long, driving the ex-Jim Richards Targa Tasmania winning Porsche 993 Turbo. Ayers knows he’ll have his work cut out to win again.

“You have to go flat out from the first stage because the competition will be really tough. If you’re not on your game from the first stage you’ll get left behind.

“The southern roads are home territory for me, but I don’t spend as much time driving on them as I’d like to, so it’s important we do a thorough recce before the event so that my co-driver, Robbie Bolton, and I can familiarise ourselves as best we can.

“There’s been some minor course changes since last year, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” Ayers added.

The self-funded driver says that while his four-wheel drive Nissan is well suited to wet weather, he’d prefer dry conditions for the event.

“I think it’s far more enjoyable for the competitors, the service crews and the spectators if the weather is fine.”

While determined to do well, Ayers says it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t win – simply keeping the car on the bitumen is his biggest aim.

“Last year we had our most successful season, finishing on the podium at both Targa Wrest Point and Targa Tasmania. The Early Modern class has been a fantastic innovation and has given guys in older cars something to aim for, rather than having to compete against the likes of Jim Richards in the latest specification Porsches.”

Starting and finishing at Wrest Point in Hobart, day one of Targa Wrest Point will see competitors tackle seven Targa stages with a competitive distance of 127 kilometres, while a further seven tests and 83 competitive kilometres will conclude the event on day two.

The second running of the event has attracted 163 entries from seven different countries. Targa Wrest Point is open to modern, showroom and classic cars. Last year’s event injected more than $3 million into the southern Tasmanian economy.

Further details about Targa Wrest Point can be found at:  www.targawrestpoint.com.au
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