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Despite winning the early modern competition, for cars between 1986 and 2002, at Targa High Country in Victoria in November, Hobart driver Michael Pritchard is under no illusions about how tough it will be to string together back to wins with a victory in this weekend's Targa Wrest Point in his home region.

Targa High Country was the second round of the Australian Targa Championship series and signalled Pritchard’s first tarmac rally victory, but the Tasmanian driver believes the third round of the championship, Targa Wrest Point, will be much tougher.

“There was a few front runners missing from Targa High Country, but everyone who’s anyone in early modern has entered for Targa Wrest Point,” Pritchard said.

With a good result in the event, Pritchard and navigator Gary Mourant could jump into the top five in the championship and make a late charge on the title in their 2003 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, with the final double-points Targa Tasmania round to be run in April.

“We missed the first round at Targa Adelaide in September, mainly because the car wasn’t ready after we crashed it in Targa Tasmania last April,” Pritchard said.

“We’ve done a lot of work on the car since the crash and it’s better than when we bought it - we went very well in Targa High Country,” he said.

However, Pritchard is the first to admit luck played a part in his Targa High Country victory, rating fellow Tasmanian drivers Matthew Rickards and Scott Strong as the drivers to beat in Targa Wrest Point.

Rickards was leading the early modern competition at Targa High Country in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 RS when it blew an engine, handing the lead to Pritchard.
Strong, who will run a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 in Targa Wrest Point, did not contest the Victorian round.

“The Evos seem to be able to outgun our Porsche, but we’re aiming to stay competitive and hope they break something,” Pritchard said.

“To win, first you have to finish and we proved that at Targa High Country.”

With his main rivals also being locals, Pritchard said he would have no home ground advantage in Targa Wrest Point.

“Local knowledge isn’t much of an advantage these days, especially since a number of competitors have also been here before and everyone else does plenty of reconnaissance anyway,” he said.

Rickards looms as a major chance for victory after easily winning the early modern competition at Targa Wrest Point last year, and given his strong showing at Targa High Country before his engine dramas struck.

Other chances look likely to include early modern championship leaders Lloyd Berger and Andrew Bullard, from NSW, in a 1994 Audi S2, who lead the series by virtue of consistency, finishing seventh in Targa Adelaide and 12th at Targa High Country.

Another top 10 result at Targa Wrest Point could see them consolidate their championship lead.

Hobart’s David Ayers and Max Griffiths will also rate a strong chance in their rapid 1997 Nismo 400R, while Launceston duo Peter Nunn and Keith Johnstone will also make their presence felt in a 1990 Porsche 944 S2.

Targa Wrest Point is the third round of the four-round Australian Targa Championship series and will be held on roads in the Huon Valley and surrounding areas, South of Hobart, on February 2 and 3.
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