This year’s Targa Tasmania will see a new father/son pairing tackle the Early Classic Competition, with Australian Rally Championship driver Paul Batten joining his father, Mike, in his head-turning 1961 Volvo PV544.

This will be Mike’s eleventh Targa, while son Paul has never competed in this event, his experience of Tasmania limited to driving the famous roads in a hire car on holiday.

“Targa Tasmania is an experience that I have always wanted to be a part of, but I didn’t expect to be doing it before my forties! When Dad’s regular navigator, John Doble, couldn’t make it and he offered to have me in the car, I was really grateful and didn’t need to be asked twice!” Paul said.

The pair will share the driving, swapping sides to test out their navigating skills during the rally. Mike has a strong history in Targa, having competed 10 times with fourth place in the Classic Competition three times in the car. He also won three NSW Rally Championships in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Son Paul has inherited the motorsport gene and has some excellent results of his own in tough competition, winning the Privateers’ Challenge in last year’s Australian Rally Championship in a Subaru Impreza WRX, and winning the Excel Series driving a Hyundai-supported car in the Victorian Rally Championship.

The father and son team paired for the first time with Paul in the driver’s seat in last year’s Alpine Rally, leading the event of over 100 cars before a gearbox failure put an end to their chances.

They recently did a shakedown test on the car at Goulburn’s Wakefield Park Racetrack.

“The day went well,” said Mike. “We had no problems with the car after the build at Seldom Seen Vehicles and Engineering and made some improvements in lap-time with damper adjustments.”

Paul works as a Chassis and Test Engineer at Prodrive, and he was amazed at the performance of the old car, and had some good suggestions on set-up.

The Volvo PV544 model has a spectacular rally heritage with three European Rally Championship wins in its heyday in the 1960’s.

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