Classic cars in a classic Targa Tasmania battle
- 28th March 2011, 10:10am
For the past three years, Rex Broadbent has won the competition in his 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, but this year his biggest rival is a man with even greater credentials.
Sixty four-year old German, Walter Rohrl, was the 1980 and 1982 World Rally Champion, and is hell-bent on snatching the Classic Outright title from Broadbent's grasp.
A former factory driver for Fiat, Opel, Porsche, Lancia and Audi, Rohrl will drive the same Porsche 911 SC that he drove on the 1981 Rally of Portugal, ensuring a dual is sure to be one of the highlights of the 20th anniversary Targa Tasmania.
Targa Tasmania director, Mark Perry, is thrilled to have Rohrl down under for the event, and expects a titanic struggle.
"Rex has been the man to beat in the Classic competition for the last few years, so to have a driver of Walter's calibre here for the event is a tremendous coup," he said.
"Both Rex and Walter are around the same age, but that also gives them a vast amount of experience.
"We expect that many spectators will come to the event just to see the former World Rally Champion in action, in what promises to be a memorable 20th Targa Tasmania."
As the official test driver for Porsche in Germany, and with two world titles under his belt, Rohrl is leaving no stone unturned in his push for victory. He and his long-time co-driver, Christian Geistdoerfer, are expected to spend six days making pacenotes on their pre-event reconnaissance.
"It has been over 10 years since I have rallied in this event, so it will take me a while to re-adjust," Rohrl said.
"I am very respectful of Rex's success in this event so it will not be so easy.
"Plus of course it has been 30 years since I last rallied this Porsche 911 SC, so I am starting behind the eight ball, as you say.
"If the rally goes as we expect then I hope to be competitive. I didnâ€™t come here just for a holiday, you know."
Broadbent, on the other hand, has the experience of many Targas under his belt, and his knowledge of the terrain and the weather conditions will no doubt work in his favour.
However, he's expecting his German rival to set a blistering pace that will be hard to match.
"His car sounds as if it's going to be in similar spec as mine, and unfortunately for me Walter has impeccable credentials," Broadbent said.
"It won't make any difference to how I approach the rally. I want to survive the event and I'll drive as fast as I'm comfortable with. If someone's faster, then that's the way it is.
"I've reached 62 years of age, and if you start driving beyond your ability, you might not reach 63.
"In seriousness, it's all a bit of fun. It's great to be competing against Walter, but I would expect him to be faster than me."
The 20th anniversary running of Targa Tasmania starts on Tuesday, April 5.
After a 5.1 kilometre prologue stage around the streets of George Town to decide the event running order, competitors tackle 38 Targa stages over five days, ending at Wrest Point on April 10.
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