The Showroom competition in next week’s inaugural Targa High Country has received a major boost with the entry of a Ford Falcon FPV F6.

Current Targa Tasmanian Shannons Classic Handicap champion, Paul Batten, has teamed up with Robinson Racing Developments and a team of FPV and Ford personnel in what will be the car’s Targa debut.

In what is sure to be a fascinating battle, Batten will go head-to-head with the Mazda 3 MPS driven by rising rally star, Brendan Reeves.

Event director, Mark Perry, is delighted that the dual between the two young talented drivers will bring the Showroom class into focus.

“Mazda has made a commitment to the Targa events, and now we have Paul with the Ford,” Perry said.

“What we hope to see by the time Targa Tasmania comes around in April is a few more major marques represented in the Showroom competition.

“Mazda and Ford are both big names, and Reeves and Batten are both big talents.  I think it is a glimpse into the future of this competition.”

Batten is a driver with considerable experience and history in rallying. A chassis and test engineer with Prodrive during the day, Batten is a former Australian Rally Championship privateers’ champion, and has twice won the Classic Handicap division at Targa Tasmania.

His job involves testing Ford Performance Vehicles at the Ford Proving Ground on a daily basis, and gives him a good familiarity with the product.

"We are really looking forward to stretching the F6's legs in Targa High Country,” Batten said.

A group of engineers and technicians involved in the design and development of Ford vehicles form the backbone of the Batten’s team, led by Adam Smith, a powertrain manager at Ford.

"We aren't a factory team, we are a group of mates and colleagues teaming together with Robinson Racing Developments to do something we are passionate about,” Smith said.

Batten says the team are excited to be involved in the event.

“This is a great chance to mix our two passions, motorsport and the Ford product, and make a small contribution to the motorsport history of the Blue Oval.

“It will be great fun winding it out on the Targa roads the way it was designed to be driven. We haven't had a chance to test the car and we aren't sure how we will stack up in the results, but the FPV has real driving character and we will be enjoying every minute of it."

Batten will be co-driven by his father Mike, a former New South Wales Rally Champion driver.

The 225-car Targa High Country field includes competitions for cars in the Early Classic, Late Classic, Early Modern, Modern and Showroom classes with most major makes of vehicle represented.

After a 3.5 kilometre stage around the streets of Mansfield on Friday afternoon, the event consists of eight Targa stages on Saturday and Sunday with a total competitive distance of 213 kilometres.

Saturday heads north to Wangaratta via Whitfield and return, while Sunday’s stages head south to Eildon via Jamieson. Both days will conclude with a 16 kilometre stage up Mt Buller.

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