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On one of the most evenly contested Targa Tasmanias in recent history, the Subaru Impreza WRX STIs of Klark Quinn and Tony Longhurst have had solid, if unspectacular, days in the Launceston-based event.

With a surprisingly low attrition rate, and with minor problems over the first three days of the rally, the Les Walkden Rallying drivers are now looking at making small gains, rather than risking everything.

Starting the day in sixth place, a small off-road excursion on the third stage of the day saw Quinn drop to tenth place by the end of the eight stages, but the Queenslander remains philosophical heading into day four.

“I can’t complain, really,” he said at the end of the day. “We’d made a mistake in the pacenotes and we left the road and went into a ditch on the Merseylea stage this morning.

“The car stalled, then we had to back out, so I guess we lost about 20 seconds all up,” he added. “I still haven’t really got my confidence back after the Rally Tasmania crash, but there’s still two days to go to move up the leader board.”

With Targa Tasmania’s longest stages to be run tomorrow, when the event moves from Launceston to Strahan on the state’s west coast, Quinn’s tyres are in good shape. He’s traditionally done well on the longer stages, so is upbeat about his chances.

Team-mate, Tony Longhurst, finished the day in fifteenth place after incurring a two minute penalty overnight for changing a tyre – a result of his accident on yesterday’s penultimate stage.

“We’ve had a rock solid day – it’s just a shame that we’re now so far down the field,” Longhurst admitted. “If you take the three minutes and 34 seconds off our time that we lost yesterday, we’d be right up there with Richards and Weeks – but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

With any hope of a podium place now gone, Longhurst has set his sights on finishing in the top ten. However it’s a task that won’t be easy, given the pace of those in front of him.

“I’ve been amazed at how intense the competition is this year,” he added. “It’s a very strong field and guys like Vandenberg, Garwood and Close have been very fast. But I’m confident we can get into the top ten before the event finishes.”

Like Quinn, Longhurst’s tyres are in good condition, and he reported no problems with the LWR Subaru as the team technicians readied the cars for tomorrow’s seven stages, which total a competitive distance of over 130km.

2008 Targa Tasmania Modern Competition – after Day 3

1. Steve Glenney (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)
2. Kevin Weeks (Lamborghini Gallardo) +37 secs
3. Jim Richards (Porsche 911 GT2), +39
4. Jason White (Lamborghini Gallardo), +1:03
5. Dean Herridge (Subaru Impreza WRX STI), +1:19

10. Klark Quinn (Subaru Impreza WRX STI)
15. Tony Longhurst (Subaru Impreza WRX STI)
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