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Australian Targa Championship leaders in the late classic handicap section for vehicles from 1972-1985, Matthew Cardinaels and Jason Page, intend to ram home their series advantage when they hit the tarmac of Southern Tasmania for the third round in next month’s Targa Wrest Point.

Cardinaels, from Gymea Bay (NSW) and Page, from Morley (WA), currently lead the championship after two rounds and will be competing in a 1972 Datsun 240Z.

With several of their main rivals opting to forgo Targa Wrest Point in favour of the double-points final round for Targa Tasmania in April, Cardinaels and Page will be hoping to build a point’s buffer big enough to win them the championship.

“We initially committed to doing all four rounds of the championship, but the way the budget is going, we may have to miss Targa Tasmania unless we can find some extra sponsorship,” Cardinaels said.

“With Targa Tasmania being worth double points, getting a good result in Targa Wrest Point is vital for us in case we can’t make the final round,” he said.

Cardinaels and Page will leave nothing to chance in their Targa Wrest Point campaign and have modified their highly-competitive Datsun after finishing seventh in round one, Suplaoc Targa Adelaide, and second in round two, Targa High Country.

“We put a different camshaft in the engine for Targa High Country which was supposed to give us more top end speed, we had trouble picking up out of corners, so I had to adjust my driving style to suit,” he said.

“We were wearing out tyres and not getting the same advantages we had over some of our main competitors in Adelaide.

“Thanks to some great support from HM Gem Engines and SW Motorsport, we’ve gone back to the original configuration, plus we’ve improved the front suspension and handling, so we should be even more competitive in Targa Wrest Point.

“I’ve have lost 8kg since Targa High Country in an attempt to be as competitive as I can - as we know power to weight is everything.”

Cardinaels is unsure what to expect in his first attempt at Targa Wrest Point, but is planning a comprehensive reconnaissance of the course in the lead-up.

“Late classic is important to us, but we really want to get onto the podium in classic outright and we think we’re a fair chance,” he said.

“This is only my fifth Targa rally ever and only our third as a team, but Jason is an experienced navigator and former driver and we make a good pairing.

“My car only started as a budget build, but with an experienced team-mate and some generous sponsors, we’ve now got a very competitive car.”

Cardinaels and Page will carry signage for Legacy and the Commando Welfare Trust in a bid to build public awareness of the work undertaken by the two organisations.

Four Legacy recipients will also travel to Targa Wrest Point to undertake various roles as part of the support crew for the team.

Although one or two main rivals will not be competing, Cardinaels and Page won’t notice the competition being any easier in one of the most fiercely competitive classes in the event.

Several teams looking to improve their championship standings with a strong result at Targa Wrest Point will include South Australian combination Ian Neville and Andrew Challen, in a 1978 Porsche 911SC, Queenslanders Michael and Stacey Reynolds, in a 1981 Holden Commodore, and Targa High Country winners and NSW-Queensland combination Robert Gambino and Tony Best, in a 1976 Ferrari 308 GTB.

Targa Wrest Point is the third round of the four-round Australian Targa Championship series and will be held on roads in the Huon Valley and surrounding areas, South of Hobart, on February 2 and 3.

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