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Motor racing stars Tony Quinn and Jim Richards, and Family Feud host, Grant Denyer, are all at the top of the Showroom competition leader board after the opening day of Targa Tasmania, which finished in seaside town of George Town on Monday afternoon.

The three big-name drivers all shot out of the blocks quickly, however it was Quinn, the 2009 Targa Tasmania champion, who set the early pace.

Tasmanians Eddie Maguire and Jason White are battling it out for the Modern competition and lie first and second, while Peter Ullrich and Pete Nunn are tied after the opening stage of the Classic Outright class.

The 24th running of the tarmac rally got underway at the Launceston Country Club, with 160 competitors setting off to battle six days and 2000km of Tasmania’s best roads.

The opening day of Targa is designed to ease competitors into the event, with four stages totalling just 24.5 kilometres. The base times for the first three Targa stages were all easily obtainable, however the final stage around the streets of George Town was where the real action began.

The 4.81km of George Town is always eagerly awaited by both competitors and spectators, with the tricky nature of the stage a real challenge.

Driving a beautiful 2014 McLaren 650S, Tony Quinn blasted around the stage in a time that was an impressive nine seconds faster than eight-time Targa Tasmania winner, Jim Richards, in a Porsche Cayman S.

In third, just a second further back, was TV star Denyer, driving a Renault Megane with respected American co-driver, Alex Gelsomino, in the co-driver’s seat.

“It’s been a learning curve, but today’s been fine and we’re driving the car well,” Quinn said at the end of the final stage.

“It’s a bit stiff and I think our tyre pressures were too high today. It’s good and fast – it’s totally different to our Nissan, but it’s the first time for this car, so it is what it is and we have to get used to it.”

The surprise leader in the Modern competition is last year’s Targa High Country winner, Eddie Maguire, who drove his Mitsubishi Lancer to a two second stage win at George Town, ahead of pre-event favourite Jason White in his Lamborghini Gallardo.

After his Lambo caught fire in Targa Wrest Point in February 2014, White has totally rebuilt the car and is expected to up his pace as the event wears on.

West Australian, Ben Searcy, lies third in Modern after the first day, just three seconds off the pace in his Mitsubishi Evo.

“Just because we won today doesn’t mean we’re going to be the fastest car all week,” Maguire said. “This is my first Targa Tasmania as a driver and my expectations are first and foremost to finish the event – we’re just going to run our own race and hopefully we’re there at the end.”

An engine misfire and poor handling gave White a less than ideal start.

“The new gearbox we put in it is really tight, so it causes a lot of understeer,” he explained. “We’ll change it tonight and chuck the old gearbox in we had before.
We’ve still got a few computer issues, but we’re working around these the best we can. It’s going to be a long week.”

Tasmanian Pete Nunn is equal first in the Classic Outright class with the NSW pairing of Peter and Sara Ullrich. Nunn’s Porsche 944 and Ullrich’s Jensen CV8 couldn’t be separated over the first day, finishing a second clear of David Gainer’s Datsun 240Z.

“It’s good to be considered a favourite in our class, but we’re not allowing it to pressure us,” Nunn said.

“Our main event is to get to the end – it’s so long and we’ve had a lot of dramas in previous years. I’m just treating it like any other event – our speed will be good, but I’m not going to do anything silly and let the pressure get to me. It’s only the first day and the car’s all good, so I’m happy.”

Ullrich also leads the Early Classic handicap section, while Nunn is second clear in Late Classic handicap, behind Leigh Achterberg’s similar Porsche 944.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X of Stewart Liddle holds a slender lead in 4WD Showroom, and Tim Hendy’s Nissan is at the head of the pack in Early Modern.

Other class leaders are Jeff Beable (Nissan Skyline) in Sports Trophy, Bob Fisher (Triumph TR4) in Thoroughbred Trophy, and Wayne Clarke (1938 Dodge Speedster Special) in Vintage.

Day 2 of Targa Tasmania will see competitors head west of Launceston for eight Targa stages and nearly 90km of competitive driving. After a lunch break in Devonport, the final two stages of the day, Paloona and Mt Roland, are the longest of the day.

Keep up with live action from Targa Tasmania by following www.targalive.com

2015 Targa Tasmania – results after Day 1 of 6 (provisional)

Wrest Point Showroom
1. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, 2014 McLaren 650S
2. Jim Richards / Barry Oliver, 2014 Porsche Cayman S, +9s
3. Grant Denyer / Alex Gelsomino, 2012 Renault Megane, +10s
4. Craig Dean / Jenny Cole, 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, +11s
5. Neill Ford / Colin Maher, 2010 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, +12s

RDA Brakes Modern
1. Eddie Maguire / Michael Potter, 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
2. Jason White / John White, 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo Squadra Corse, +2s
3. Ben Searcy / Mitchell Lukasz, 2007 Mitsubishi Evo IX, +3s
=4. Josh Hilton / Rod Vanderpoel, 2008 Nissan GTR, +8s
=4. Adam Spence / Erin Kelly, 2011 Nissan GTR, +8s

Shannon’s Classic Outright
=1. Peter Ullrich / Sara Ullrich, 1963 Jensen CV8
=1. Pete Nunn / Keith Johnstone, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo
3. David Gainer / Peter St George, 1971 Datsun 240Z, +1s
4. Anthony Genocchio / Scott Hamilton, 1983 Holden HDT Commodore, +4s
5. Ted Banks / Bruce Douglas, 1971 Porsche 916, +8s

Budget Sports Trophy
1. Jeff Beable / Nerida Beable, 2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R N1
2. Allan Hines / Kerry Hines, 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo S, +11s
3. Adrian Smith / Alanah Miles, 2015 VW Golf R, +17s

Shannon’s Thoroughbred Trophy
1. Bob Fisher / Louse Paul, 1967 Triumph TR4a
2. John Keating / Peter O’Reilly, 1975 Alfa Spider Spider, +42s
3. David Currow / Colin Carati, 1961 Steyr Puch TR Europa, +2m30s

Shannons Vintage
1. Wayne Clarke / Trevor Berriman, 1938 Dodge Speedster Special

Country Club 4WD Showroom
1. Stewart  Liddle / Michael Lloyd, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer  Evo X RS
2. Richard  Perini / Chris Perini, 2013 Mercedes A45 AMG, +1s
3. Angus Kennard / Ian Wheeler, 2009 Subaru Impreza STi, +3s

Shannons Early Classic Handicap
1. Peter Ullrich / Sari Ullrich, 1963 Jensen CV8
2. Paul Freestone / Christine Freestone, 1948 Holden 215, +11s
=3. Andrew White / Ashley Yelds, 1961 Volvo 122s, +12s
=3. David Gainer / Peter St George, 1971 Datsun 240Z, +12s

Shannons Late Classic Handicap
1. Leigh Achterberg/ Greg Fitzgerald, 1982 Porsche 944
=2. Greg Cook / David Cooper, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +3s
=2. Pete Nunn / Keith Johnstone, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo, +3s

Spirit of Tasmania Early Modern
1. Tim Hendy / Julie Winton-Monet, 2003 Nissan Skyline GT-R Z-Tune
2. Liam Howarth / Larry Howarth, 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R V Spec, +3s
3. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, 2004 BMW M3 CSL, +8s

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