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The quest for line honours in the classic car battle at this year’s Targa Tasmania looks set to provide a fascinating next chapter to a story so far dominated by one man – Rex Broadbent.

The Shannons Classic Outright title, the first across the line battle for cars built pre-1986, has been awarded for the past six years at Targa Tasmania, and Broadbent’s is the only name on the trophy.

Driving his trusty 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, the Victorian retiree has been in a class of his own. He combines incredible speed, efficiency and consistency.

Last year, victory looked to be lost on the last day when he had an uncharacteristic off on the Tarraleah stage.  But he and then co-driver Chris Randall got the car back on the road and to the finish line to keep Broadbent’s unbroken record in tact.

There time was the seventh fastest of all competitors in 2012, a clear display of the skill Broadbent has behind the wheel.

While these days he limits his outings each year to Targa Tasmania alone, the Porsche driver is upbeat about the challenge ahead.

“Seven is my lucky number, so I’d like to make it seven in a row,” he said.

“Targa Tasmania is the pick of them – it’s the pinnacle, so it’s the one I will always choose,” he said.

Broadbent’s preparations hit a hurdle with the withdrawal of Randall from the co-drivers seat due to family reasons.

But the way forward to a seventh title came from an unusual direction. An ex-driver, one of the most talented in the country, will sit in the passengers seat along side Broadbent.

“Paul (Batten) hasn’t had much navigating experience, but he’s a brilliant driver and I find good drivers generally make very good navigators because they anticipate well,” he said.

The new combination will face some old foes at Targa.

Tasmania’s vastly experienced Greg Garwood will be in a classic car in 2013, a 1977 Holden Torana A9X and is expected to be very quick.

He will team with local motorsport identity, Peter O’Keefe, in a second Torana A9X. O’Keefe is an experienced classics campaigner having previously notched a second place in an SLR500 Torana.

The reigning Classic Outright Australian Targa Champions, Queenslanders Donn Todd and Dean Tighe, will again be in the mix in another V8 powerhouse, a 1971 Ford Perana.

“I’m realistic about my chances – I can’t keep up with the V8s in the dry conditions,” Broadbent said.

That’s what he says, but time and again Broadbent has shown he’s the master of all things classic at Targa Tasmania.

While much interest is always on the modern cars, the classics races both outright and handicap, fill many pages in the rich history of what many consider to be the ultimate tarmac test.

“There’s no doubt that the classic cars are a big part of the Targa Tasmania,” said series director, Stuart Benson.

“These older cars are a huge part of the attraction to the fans. They’re brilliantly prepared, often having been lovingly restored. Go out to a street stage like Longford on Thursday (April 18) and listen to which cars get the biggest cheers. You’ll find that it’s often the oldest ones and they really know how to put on a show.”

Targa Tasmania gets underway with the traditional TEMCO Prologue on Tuesday April 16. The action proper starts in Launceston on Wednesday April 16, moving to Strahan on the West Coast on April 19, before finishing in Hobart on April 21.

Rex Broadbent will be hoping he’s still part of the traditional champagne spray at Wrest Point come that Sunday afternoon.
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