Classic Targa victory for Porsche
- 23rd April 2007, 11:39am
Victorians Rex Broadbent and Michael Goedheer have won the new Shannons Classic Outright competition of Targa Tasmania after a thrilling final day duel down the West Coast with fellow Porsche 911 crew of New South Wales’ Bill Pye and Grant Geelan.
Meanwhile, Australian honour was satisfied after Victorian Steve Coad and Simon Vandenberg from Tasmania brought their 1972 Monaro GTS home in third position outright after a classy and consistent drive over the event’s five days and 42 special stages.
It was the second Shannons Classic victory for Broadbent/Goedheer in the same 1974 Carrera RSR replica, after winning in 2002, but it was more notable as they only elected to enter Targa 10 days before the event when the Daytona Coupe they were planning to run in the drivetravel.com Modern Competition was not ready.
“We made the decision on Good Friday,” said Broadbent, who with Goedheer has won five Classic Adelaide rallies in a row in the same car. “In hindsight it was a good one, but with today’s changing weather conditions it was a very close call.”
Running on softer tyres better suited to the morning’s damp conditions, Pye and Geelan closed to within 18 seconds of the Victorians by the Queenstown lunchbreak, however they were unable to close the gap further on the final three stages.
However their consolation was a long overdue victory in the Shannons Classic Handicap Competition on their fourth attempt with two different Porsches after leading on the final day on each previous occasion.
They were overtaken in snowy conditions in 2004, were given a time penalty for a minor speeding infringement in 2005 with only two stages to go, and then had the coil fail on their 1977 Carrera 3.0 while waiting to start the final town stage at New Norfolk in 2006.
“I feel like we’ve finally got the monkey off our backs,” said Pye.
Running on harder tyres better suited to dry conditions, Broadbent/Goedheer started Day 5 with a handy 1min. 9sec. lead over Pye/Geelan’s similarly-engined car.
But the notoriously fickle West Coast weather played the wild card and instead of staying fine as predicted, scattered showers raked the West Coast, causing the morning stages to be classified as ‘Intermediate’.
This was just what the New South Wales crew had been saving their soft tyres and hoping for. Whereas Broadbent/Goedheer carried no spare tyres in their 911 and hence faced a time penalty if they fitted new rubber, Pye managed to squeeze both a front and rear tyre under the front bonnet of his Porsche and had methodically rotated them each night to ensure he maximised his remaining tread depth.
It showed from the Hellyer Gorge first stage of the Day when he took a staggering 28 seconds out of the Victorians’ lead, while he grabbed another eight seconds on Mt.Black and a further 15 on Rosebery. And while Broadbent/Goedheer would have been pleased that the Strahan stage was downgraded to Touring as a result of several vehicles going off, their lead was in tatters and down to just 18 seconds by lunchtime in Queenstown.
Thankfully for them, the following Queenstown stage was ‘Dry’ as they climbed out of the mining town on the way back to Hobart and they reclaimed 10 seconds of their lead from the NSW crew.
What could have been an enthralling three-cornered Porsche contest fizzled on Day 3, when Ballarat’s Gavin James and Neil McLeod dropped out of third place in their 1989 Porsche 944 S2 with clutch problems, only to rejoin at lunchtime on Day 4.
Despite his previous ‘showman’ image, the Shannons Classic Competition this year saw a very different Steve Coad under the watchful eye of new navigator Simon Vandenberg, and it was obvious from the outset that they had their eyes focussed on a podium place rather than pleasing Holden fans by burning rubber.
From fifth at the end of Day 1, they moved to fourth on Day 2, then into third on Day 3, holding their position – and nerve – until the end despite a determined charge from 10th to fourth outright by Hobart’s Peter O’Keefe and Julie Winton-Monet in their 1977 Torana SL/R 5000.
The Melbourne father and daughter team of Peter and Rebecca Eames were threatening to split the two Holden V8s, but they incurred a five minute penalty for hitting a chicane earlier in the day, dropping them from fifth to 10th outright.
Other could-have-been Classic podium challengers included the 1988 Porsche 944 Cup of NSW’s David Morton and Malcolm McDonald, who lost time with electrical trouble on The Sideling on Day 2, Adam and David Kaplan from New South Wales, whose 1988 Giocattolo Group B was slowed with mechanical problems on Day 3 and Tasmania’s Kim Barwick and Paul Walker, whose 1977 Torana A9X rolled on Cethana on Day 4.
The highest-profile Classic casualty was actor Eric Bana, whose 1974 Ford XB coupe left the road on Saturday’s Cethana stage and hit a tree, badly damaging its bodywork and steering.
While the new Classic Outright Competition put the cars built before 1991 on an even footing with the Modern cars for the first time, the traditional Classic Handicap Competition was equally hard fought over throughout this year’s event.
While Pye and Geelan held the Handicap lead from Day 1, the battle behind them raged and changed throughout the event.
Initially, Mike Batten and John Doble of NSW in their 1961 Volvo PV544 occupied second place, however following an ‘off’ on Day 3, Victorians Paul and Christine Freestone in their 1958 Austin Healey 3000 moved up behind the NSW Porsche.
But on the penultimate stage of the rally disaster struck the Freestones when they left the road without injury on the 47km Mt. Arrowsmith stage.
This elevated Broadbent and Goedheer into second, with the ACT crew of Barry Faux and Therezia Mihajlovic in their 1979 Mazda RX7 filling the final Classic Handicap place.
Top 3 - Shannons Classic Outright
1 R Broadbent/M Goedheer
2 B Pye/G Geelan +30secs
3 S Coad/S Vandenberg +3:52
Top 3 - Shannons Classic Handicap
1 B Pye/G Geelan
2 R Broadbent/M Goedheer +3:18
3 B Faux/T Mihajiovic +4:06
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