Distance no barrier to Targa success
- 29th March 2010, 11:24am
It is a story from across the seas. Two people on opposite sides of the globe coming together for one of the world's great tarmac rallies.
Andrew White, 58, is a father of four from Darwin in the Northern Territory, while Ashley Yelds, 47, hails from Washington DC in the United States of America.
The two met at Targa Tasmania in 2004 and are about to embark on their sixth event together. Along the way they have proven to be a successful combination despite the tyranny of distance.
"It is quite a feat to build and campaign a car while living in Darwin and Washington respectively," White says.
"It is the only motorsport either of us are involved in. For the last couple of years we have left the car in Melbourne and have relied on the good will from friends and fellow Targa competitors to store and help prepare the car."
After previously entering a 'works-built' Volvo, White and Yelds debuted a new car in 2009. Their 1961 Volvo 122S was built from a bare shell and debuted in style, finishing third in the Early Classic competition.
"The new car has a lot more potential and we believe we can do particularly well if we get a majority of rainy days," White suggests.
"The car is exceptionally well-balanced and can be driven very hard day in and day out. Volvos are not generally known as performance vehicles and the car has surprised us, and a few fellow competitors, with its turn of speed."
The deceptively quick Swedish car is fitted with a 1950cc balanced engine with a knife-edged crank, forged pistons, a race cam and Weber carburetors.
The power is put to the ground through a 4.9:1 limited slip differential, while Nissan twin spot calipers on 300mm rotors slow the car for the corners. Handling comes via Koni shock absorbers and adjustable sway bars.
"Targa Tasmania provides the best driving experience I can imagine and I love driving. The strong competition and the chance to compete against a variety of vehicles is what keeps me coming back.
"We really want to finish. We have performed consistently well, but we try and take each corner at a time and extract the maximum, while keeping a margin for safety."
While White steers the Volvo around Tasmania's vast network of twisting tarmac roads, Yelds will read from the safety pacenotes to keep the car up to speed in whatever weather conditions competitors are dealt.
Perhaps surprisingly, White is hoping for rain and snow during the event.
"It helps bring the more powerful cars back to us," he says.
White sees his entry in Targa as great value for money.
"I love driving, so I am sad when Sunday comes around and the event finishes, apart from the relief of finishing."
Targa Tasmania is a cavalcade of motoring history and starts on Tuesday, April 27.
After a 5.1 kilometre prologue around the streets of George Town to decide the event running order competitors tackle 39 Targa stages over a total competitive distance of over 400 kilometres.
The 19th Targa Tasmania is primarily based in Launceston, while the event also spends one night in the west coast town of Strahan, before finishing in Hobart on May 2.
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