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It’s been a day of mixed fortunes for the two Les Walkden Rallying Subaru Impreza WRX STIs in the five-day Targa Tasmania rally.

Lead driver, Tony Longhurst, had just overhauled eight time Targa winner, Jim Richards, and had moved into second place when a small off road excursion dropped him back down the running order.

Team mate, Klark Quinn, progressed steadily during the second day of the event, moving from thirteenth place to sixth over the day’s eight Targa Stages.

Longhurst and co-driver, Jahmeil Taylor, had started the day in third place, four seconds behind Richards’ Porsche, and three shy of Steve Glenney’s Lancer Evo IX.

However, on stages that suited the All Wheel Drive Impreza WRX STI down to the ground, and true to his word, Longhurst started eating into Richards’ advantage. While he couldn’t match the pace of Glenney, who moved into the lead, by the end of the day’s fifth stage he had overtaken the Porsche driver and had moved into second place.

On the very next stage though, Longhurst understeered off the road into a ditch. While the damage to the car was only relatively minor, he dropped nearly a minute and a half to the leaders.

Worse still for the Queenslander, he had to replace a front tyre after his indiscretion, meaning he incurred a two minute time penalty. Subsequently, he finished the day in seventh place, but just 23 seconds behind team mate Quinn.

“The day had been going so well, but then I made a driving error about two kilometres into the Rossarden stage,” Longhurst explained.

“I came into the corner too fast – probably doing around 160km/h in fifth gear – and the car just understeered off the road. We hit some small scrubby bushes, but luckily the car just pulled up short of a big gum tree.

“The impact broke a front rim, and we had to crawl out of the stage, and then replace the front wheel and tyre.”

Despite this, Longhurst is philosophical about the rest of the rally, admitting that if he has a good run he could still end up with a podium finish when the rally reaches Hobart on Sunday afternoon.

“We were quite lucky,” he added. “It’s good to be standing here at the end of the day, particularly after Klark and Natasha’s big crash in Rally Tasmania, so I can’t be too disappointed.”

Quinn, meanwhile, continued to gain confidence in his driving over the second full day of the event, moving up seven places to finish the day sixth.

“The car has been great today, but I’m actually surprised to be in sixth place,” Quin said. “We’re certainly not on the pace of those ahead of us, but Natasha (co-driver Natasha Deneise) and I are figuring things out better, and things are going well.”

In spite of his Rally Tasmania accident in February, Quinn admitted that he hadn’t suffered any pain during the second day. He joked that his main priority for the rest of the rally was to beat his father (Tony Quinn) who is currently two places behind in eighth place.

“The guys will do a quick overhaul of the car tonight, but there’s not much to be done. We’ll just keep pressing on tomorrow and try to get the car back in one piece,” he added.

The third day of Targa Tasmania sees the record field of competitors head west of the rally base in Launceston. The field will tackle a further eight Targa Stages totalling 56km of competitive driving, the highlight being the 3km street stage in Devonport, commencing around 10.30.

Modern Results - End Leg 2 (Provisional)
1 S Glenney
2 J Richards +40sec
3 K Weeks +48
4 J White +60
5 D Herridge +62
6 K Quinn +1min 36sec
7 T Longhurst +1:59
8 T Quinn +2:09

Photo: Redline Photographics

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