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You can’t buy experience in motorsport. Being able to successfully drive your rally car at speed on closed tarmac roads is something that needs to be learnt over a period of time.

Canberra’s Greg Sutton has an abundance of experience, and is now preparing for his ninth Targa Tasmania, at the wheel of a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII.

Sutton completed six Targas in a Porsche 993 RS and achieved good class results, but has since retired the car.

“The 993 RS was getting too valuable, so we decided to retire it from competition and build a full tarmac specification Lancer Evo VIII,” he said.

“The car was built by Jon Waterhouse at Reliance Automotive, and this will be its third Targa Tasmania.”

Together with long-time co-driver Paul Kelly, Sutton comes in to Targa Tasmania in good form, having finished thirteenth outright in Rally Tasmania.

“We were actually heading for a strong top ten finish, but had to limp through the last few stages with a blown head gasket.”

Looking ahead to the ultimate tarmac rally, Sutton, like most competitors, has set himself some firm goals.

“First and foremost I want to get through the event safely,” he says. “I have a Platinum Targa Plate, so I’ve had some good finishes in the past.

“If I could manage a top 20 finish I’d be rapt.”

Tasmania’s often fickle weather regularly plays a part in Targa Tasmania, and it’s not often that the event remains dry for the full distance. Even though Sutton’s turbocharged Lancer Evo VIII is four-wheel drive, rain isn’t on his wish list this year.

“I’d prefer it to be as dry as possible, but the weather’s not something that you can plan. We’ll just have to deal with whatever Mother Nature throws up,” he added.

Targa Tasmania will start in Launceston on April 15 and come to a grand finish at Hobart’s Wrest Point on April 20.
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